Sunday, February 17, 2013

Blog Post #5

Mrs. Merple's Treehouse

If You Built a School
If I Built A School by Krissy Venosdale is a very interesting blog post.  This teacher's approach to her students' learning has a lot to do with creativity, groups, technology, out of the box activities, and freedom.  Her attitude is that every moment is valuable, as is each of her students.  I didn't have to read for very long to see her perspective on this type of learning environment versus the typical teaching of just the state standards.  Her description of her dream school involved words like creativity, innovation, passion, technology integration, and collaboration.  Her idea is to not focus on grade levels but abilities.  She envisions cozy spaces, inviting areas, brightly painted areas.  I especially thought the encouraging parking signs for each teacher was an endearing touch.  I must mention her giant treehouse in the middle of the library because she wrote about it twice.  

I am not sure how to answer the dream school question.  When I start to think about it, the negatives pop in my mind.  Where would the funding come from?  What do you do with the students who misbehave?  How do you train the teachers?  Then I rethink and realize the point of a dream is there are no limits. 

If money were no object, if all the teachers were fully skilled, and misbehavior was no issue I would include the following:  In all grade levels there would be two teachers in the class that work as a team.  Classes would travel around the school to the different subject rooms such as art, science, and music.  There would be lots of books.  Rather than rushed chaos, the lunchroom would be restaurant style with waiters so students could relax and reflect.  However, they would be responsible for the cleanup of their tables so they would take ownership of their own messes.  Things like art, music, and drama would be integrated daily into subjects.  As part of art and science, there would be school flower and vegetable gardens that the students tend.  There would also be an emphasis on learning the cultures of the world.  Perhaps each class could focus on a city in the world, meet a class in that city via Skype, and then go on a week long trip to that city at the end of the year.  Every day would have a scheduled 30 minute slot for a power nap that the teachers are also allowed to have.  

I think the most valuable point Ms. Venosdale makes is the fact that she herself is continuing to learn.  How can teachers expect their students to be excited about learning new things if teachers themselves are not willing?

Apparently it's a small world.  My college freshman son who is home for trimester break walked by during this video and said, "Oh, that's Lux Aurumque.  Mrs. McCormick (his high school choir teacher) wanted us to watch this video to see how it sounded, but I never did.  But Eric Whitacre is one of the best modern composers."  Before my son walked in I thought the music sounded VERY familiar and it was in fact a piece sung by Faith Academy's choir last year.  My reaction to this use of the internet:  Astounding.  

After the interview, I realize that these are videos put together.  Just watching the video it looks, like Whitacre said, a Skype of one huge choir, but it's not.

Kevin Robert presents the question "What does it mean to teach in the 21st Century?"  He makes points about the fact that information is everywhere.  Teachers will be a filter of knowledge.  The goal moves from students learning facts to students using information to solve problems.  His presentation poses questions that I call life questions.  Students need skills to evaluate information and make a judgment to proceed to solve a problem or answer a question.  

For the very young, teachers still need to teach students literacy and math skills.  These basics must be introduced before using technology as a sole source of learning.  I do not see doing away with hands on teachers on the preschool and early elementary levels.  Third grade and up must begin to be more than fact factories.  My approach to teaching is to use the skills and knowledge the student knows, ask questions, and explore to learn more.  Visually, I picture the process of connecting Legos to get to the bigger picture.

Flipped Classroom
The three videos about flipping the classroom present an approach I have never heard of.  Understandably, in the last video, Ms. Munafo said they are only using it to teach math right now.   I could definitely use this approach.  Getting up and running would require a lot of planning ahead, but after that, lessons that could be used for a few years would be at my fingertips.  I like the idea of the students being able to work together.  In the subject of math, perhaps my favorite, students sharing with other students how they solved a problem is very effective for the students who are asking for help.  Ms. Gimbar was also very adamant about not re-lecturing in the classroom as this defeats the purpose of the students preparing ahead of time as well as allowing the student to dictate to the teacher how this will go.  I also like how she allows them to catch up during homeroom or lunch or at the beginning of class.  Students want to be engaged and don't want to feel left out.  This could be used for other subjects such as science and social studies.  The students watch the lecture before class and then class time is used for group projects and experiments.  

1 comment:

  1. A lot of ifs! Anthony can help you understand the ifs are not as onerous as they might otherwise be!

    "I think the most valuable point Ms. Venosdale makes is the fact that she herself is continuing to learn. How can teachers expect their students to be excited about learning new things if teachers themselves are not willing?" Absolutely!

    "For the very young, teachers still need to teach students literacy and math skills." And I am still doing it with college students who want to be teachers!

    Thorough, thoughtful, well done!