Help get CITL to #SXSWedu!

Vote-InstagramThis summer, we’ve put in a number of conference proposals to help tell the story of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, it’s founding, and it’s impact at conferences all around the country. One of the conferences that we submitted a proposal to is South By Southwest EDU, the education-specific strand of one if the most innovative and forward-thinking conferences in the country – if you want to know what is coming next in music, film, the internet – and now education – this is the conference to be at. At we’re trying to be in the room where it happens.

With five days left in the voting, we could use your help. Please visit this page to vote for our presentation and help get CITL to SXSWedu, where we’ll tell the story of how a three-legged stool of student support, innovative curriculum design, and professional development can make school a place that not only meets all students where they are but helps get them where they want to go.

Take STEAM outdoors while summer is still here

IMG_0510If you’re like a lot of parents I know, your children (and maybe you) have spent a lot of time hunting down Pokémon in all sorts of places thanks to the new(-ish) Pokémon Go game. Though it’s only been out a couple of months, the game has already proven to be a sneaky way to get kids active and outdoors – and also a great way to find history hidden right under our noses.

If you’re looking for more ideas to marry the digital and tree-lined world, an article by the good folks at Mind/Shift gives four great recommendations for STEM tools that will get kids outdoors and exploring. (I can especially vouch for the Playground Physics app published by the New York Hall of Science, as well as the other apps that are a part of their Noticing Tools collection.)

Even a “simpler” app such as Leafsnap, which uses image recognition technology to identify what tree a leaf you photographed came from, is a great way to explore the outdoors before the school year starts.

What other apps and tools have you been using to blend the digital and real worlds this summer?

Girls and coding

A couple years ago, I walked into a big toy store and was struck by how gender-specific the marketing of specific toys was, even as their basic characteristics were pretty similar.


It turns out that this same gender-specific marketing might be to blame for the lack of women in coding-related professions, a field that was originally dominated by women. A great Planet Money episode called “When Women Stopped Coding” is a good look at when and why the tide turned.


Parents: When is the right time to buy your child a mobile phone?

Something I’ve been struggling with for a while is figuring out the right age to recommend that parents get their children mobile phones – something made all the more difficult by wanting to follow my own recommendation with my own kids.

“My only job as a parent is to prepare you for the day you leave,” she said. “If that’s the case, I have to keep you safe, and you’re not going to like some of the things I say — and that’s O.K.”

This New York Times article might help parents wrestling with the same decision.


Children and Technology

Thank you to RAPA for putting together a panel on Children and Technology that featured Ridgefield Academy’s division heads, Alison O’Callaghan and Clinton Howarth; the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning’s director, Basil Kolani; and the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury’s Director of Education, Training, and Outreach, Ann Rodwell-Lawton.

You can watch an archive of the panel presentation here:

Article share: Why Kids Should Use Their Fingers In Math Class


photo by duncan c

This year, we have been doing a lot of work around both brain research and mathematics at Ridgefield Academy. Adele Dominicus, upper school math teacher, shared a great article with us on the intersection of both and why there’s nothing wrong with counting with your fingers.

Why Kids Should Use Their Fingers In Math ClassThe Atlantic

Calling all Makers!


On May 14, Ridgefield Academy will be hosting it’s first School Maker Faire – and we’d like you to help us showcase a do-it-yourself attitude on campus that day. Whether you make projects for class, robots, Arduino projects, textiles, music, art, rockets, puppets, food, and more, we hope that you’ll show off your stuff at our first Maker Faire!

Students, teachers, parents, and friends of Ridgefield Academy are all invited to fill out the application below and either email it to or leave it in Basil Kolani’s mailbox by April 22. You’ve got a month to come up with your most creative presentation, and we can’t wait to see it!

School Maker Faire – Call for Makers Flyer

RA Community Book Club: World Peace and Other Fourth Grade Achievements

worldpeaceandotherOn Wednesday, March 2, The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning will be hosting a book club discussion on World Peace and Other Fourth Grade Achievements in Hope Hall at 7:30pm.

The author of the book, John Hunter, is a teacher from Virginia, and the book tells of how he used a game that he created – The World Peace Game – to teach students about world problems. Without giving anything away, it will be clear after reading this book that all our learners, even our youngest ones, are capable of some pretty amazing things.

While we are still working out some ideas for online interaction around the book before March 2, you can get a head start and purchase a copy of the book using the following links: AmazonApple iBooks, Google BooksBarnes and Noble. You can also learn more about John Hunter and the World Peace Game by watching the following TED Talk: