Friday, October 23, 2015

Week 7 -- Some Philosophy and 10 Things

On Monday this week I (as well as Jason, Karl and Rachel) was privileged to attend and present at the AIMS (the local independent school organization) conference. The conference theme was "C's of 21st Century Learning: Choice, Collaboration, Communication, Conscientious Living, Creativity, Critical Thinking".

Like living in Ann Arbor, teaching at Summers-Knoll sometimes is a bubble of awesome surrounded by reality.  The prevailing paradigm of education in the last 15 years has been on accountability, assessment and performance. Even our cousin independent schools have largely followed step, and while the purpose of this conference was to push a 21st learning model, I heard more than once from other teachers comments along the lines of, "My class covers late 19th and early 20th century American History, so none of this really applies; there is just some much content I have to cover and I can't squeeze any more in."

It is a joy to teach at a school where we have freedom from rigid expectations about the content that *must* be covered in a particular subject. Personally, I am coming to believe more and more strongly that one of the bogs of modern schools is an attachment to a knowledge-based curriculum in content areas that were first designed more than 120 years ago by the Committee of Ten.

Summers-Knoll's actually lives the 5 C's mentioned above, especially in using Responsive Models of education that see children as important agents (though not sole proprietors) in the diachronic shaping of their own learning.

In my classroom this year, I am most proud of the ongoing "10 Things" that my students have been engaging in as part of their work each week. What I had originally intended as an exercise about the importance of being able to memorize content in a timely fashion on a topic of immediate interest, has evolved to be some combination of Google's Genius Time, independent and self-motivated research, and a (brief) weekly progress update given to the whole class.

Christopher's 10 Things has led him to learn Javascript. 
He's now helping Kaden and Owen learn it while the rest 
of the class is rehearsing for the play.
In the linked video Becca talks about Badgers.

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