If I Built A School
Krissy Venosdale, venspired.com, has written, in my opinion, one of the best descriptions of what schools should be like. She is a GiftedEd teacher of grades 3-6 in Hillsboro, Missouri and clearly has a passion for creating an excitement for learning. In her post, she talks about getting a huge donation to build the school of her dreams and, WOW, what an amazing school it would be. She describes it as a school where, "Constructivism, Inquiry, Project Based Learning, and Passion would be the vehicles and students would be driving." She talks about a school where the community is involved and where everyone feels welcomed. Learning would be celebrated as the greatest achievement. If you toured this school you would see a tree house, a coffee house, a science lab, an art studio, and a huge aquarium. You would see exploration being encouraged, creativity being celebrated, collaboration being supported, and technology being embraced. What a wonderful school this would be! I would definitely be the first in line to apply for a position at that school.
This is not the first time I have pondered what it would be like if schools took this type of approach to learning. I had an opportunity to do some observation at the Marietta Johnson School of Organic Education in Fairhope, Alabama, and although it was not the perfect example, the foundation of learning at this school is very similar to Krissy Venosdale's vision. The philosophy behind this school is one of progressive learning which has been around since 1907. This is a school that doesn't believe in a graded class structure, instead they place children according to their level of learning; according to "a child's learning style and pattern of growth". They are a very small school, so they are limited in what they can offer, but they provide an atmosphere where children can explore their natural abilities. They offer pottery classes and folk dance. They have the flexibility to go to the bay to explore marine biology and environmental issues. I had the opportunity on one day to assist children as they worked in a garden. When I left that day, all I could think about was what a wonderful way to teach children; offer activities that give them hands on experience. That's how I wish I could teach my students. I want them to see it, touch it, and work at it so they have a sense of accomplishment. Instead of talking about the life cycle of a plant, let them plant a garden. Instead of telling them about other cultures, let them connect with people all over the world through the use of technology. I would also like to help the children think of ways they can take what they learn and help improve their community. I want to teach them skills that are not only life changing but can help change lives. I think that teaching should not be limited to the four walls of a classroom, I think children should be able to experience the world beyond those walls.
Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir
This is a great example of how the internet can accomplish a task that otherwise would be impossible. It shows how technology can connect people from all walks of life to create something truly amazing. Bravo!
Teaching In The 21st Century
Teaching In The 21st Century, by Kevin Roberts, provides great insight into the changes that are taking place in education. I love the phrase in the video that says students aren't to be entertained but they are to be engaged. And how will we engage our students? Kevin Roberts is right when he says we have to be relevant and discover ways to teach students how to use the technology that is available, how to gather information, and how to decipher and apply that information in all the core subjects we are responsible for teaching. It is something I will have to research and to which I will have to give great thought. How will I teach high school math in the 21st century? Will I lecture or will my classroom be interactive? What kind of e-portfolios will my students build? How will we incorporate blogs and podcasts into our math lessons? What resources and tools are available, how do we find them, and how are we going to use them? These are definitely things I need to be asking if I'm going to have students who are engaged.
The Flipped Classroom
I'm loving this idea. I especially found Katie Gimbar's videos to be of great interest since I'm planning to be a math teacher. This has been saved to my folder of great resources for my future classroom. I think this style is not only useful for the students but it also gives parents access to the content and keeps them informed of their child's progress. As a teacher, I like the idea of less lecturing and more interacting. I think the flipped classroom sounds like a very engaging concept.