Author's blog: fresh thoughts for adventurous minds

Motivation, Part 2: When to stick to your routine, and when to break it

Some days, even the best of us fall into a rut and drag our heels. That’s when it might be time to break your routine and put the pep back into your lessons. Continue reading …

On the trail of The Silver Spider, Part 3: Scouting a location

My upcoming novel, The Silver Spider, takes place in Panama, an amazing country of contrasting landscapes and cultures. From the indigenous Kuna people of the San Blas Islands to the ancestors of West Indians who arrived to build the canal, from Spanish colonial forts to the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal - talk about inspiration! Continue reading…

Motivation, Part 1: It's all in the packaging

Remember that old trick to quiet kids down? Let’s see who can be quiet for the longest time! It worked as long as the kids thought it was a game. Something special. Different. Fun. The same trick can be applied to schooling – just try a photo essay.
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All Treat, No Trick: Halloween in Tonga

Just how do you “do” Halloween in a remote Pacific anchorage?
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On the trail of The Silver Spider, Part 2: the Sipan Spider

What exactly is the silver spider? Like everything else in my novel, it’s a grain of reality that’s been put through the filter of my imagination. In 1990, I worked on an archaeological excavation in Peru… Continue reading…

Clear expectations

In my last post, I wrote about the power of self-assessment, in which a student uses a grading scheme to award him or herself a grade rather than simply receiving a grade from an outside authority. The logical follow-up is the topic of setting clear expectations for what type of work will earn a good grade. Continue reading …

The Boater’s Barter Economy

Out on northern Tonga’s remote Kenutu island, we had it all: a lush, uninhabited paradise, turquoise anchorage, vibrant coral reefs. If only we weren’t running low on supplies…
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The power of self-assessment

Self-assessment is a powerful learning tool, as I was just reminded when going over a writing assignment with my fourth grade son. Self-assessment means that the student uses a detailed rubric to grade his own work.
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On the trail of The Silver Spider, Part I: genesis of a novel

I began to sketch the preliminary concept of a suspense novel when we were at sea for twenty-eight days straight, sailing from the Galapagos Islands to the Marquesas. Thirty-five feet of fibreglass - our floating home, Namani - doesn’t leave a lot of room to pace, but plenty of room for an imagination full with observations on the fun, fascinating world of cruising sailors. Continue reading…

Comparing apples and oranges?

I’ve been asked to use my experience as a teacher to compare children who have hands-on home schooling experiences with “regular” kids. Are they so different? Do they have special qualities? The answers are framed in the context of sailing children, but apply equally to children from any non-traditional educational settings.
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