Friday, April 19, 2013

The "Space" to Learn...

Good evening,

With few exceptions, each Wednesday I spend the better part of the morning in one of our schools.  It’s important for me to “stay close” to students and their learning as well as nurture meaningful and purposeful relationships with administrators and their staffs.    

High-quality learning is both rigorous and relational, and is observable each day to anyone who spends time with the children and staff at the Walter Ambrose Family Center.  While meeting with Marty Baker and Merlene Gilb this past Wednesday, they spent some time (as they always do) “lifting up” the amazing children and staff of the WAFC.  One of these “highlights” was the video below which shows two young boys sharing a story with one another.   

The children in the video were purposefully given the space to authentically engage in this learning together.  While not being traditionally taught or led by the adult(s) in the moment, these two children demonstrate both understanding of and competency with a variety of reading standards (outcomes) at both the early childhood and elementary levels including the new K-12 common core state standards.  The teacher, utilizing the “PATH” process developed by the staff at the WAFC Preschool, is nearby so that she may observe, listen, and document the learning being demonstrated.  The teacher will then use what she has witnessed and recorded to provide spaces and opportunities for these children to learn in a manner that is responsive, caring, and natural. 

Please enjoy this beautiful moment, so full of high-quality learning!
Each child, Each day....John

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Hixson Arcade

Good afternoon,

On April 9, 2012, a struggling filmmaker by the name of Nirvan Mullick posted to YouTube a video (view below) he created after being inspired by a 9 year-old boy who had made a cardboard arcade from used parts in his dad’s auto parts store in East Los Angeles.  As a “thank you” to Caine (9 year-old), Mullick provided a way for viewers to contribute to a college fund for this amazing young man.  Approximately 24 hours later, over one hundred twenty-five thousand dollars had already been raised.  Inspiration + Caring People + the Internet = Changed Lives!  Less than a year later, two viewers of that video would use it as a "spark" to inspire middle school students in the WGSD!   

Shortly after winter break, Mr. Patrick Dempsey and Mr. Rob Rambach, two science teachers at Hixson Middle School, dedicated time to thinking about how to have their students demonstrate their understanding of what they would soon learn in an upcoming unit on electricity (exs: circuit diagrams and effect of resistance on electric currents).  As they thought about how to engage students in the work in a rigorous yet fun way, one of the teachers remembered the video of Caine's Arcade.  With the "spark," the two processed themselves and brought others to the conversation including the social studies coordinator, Dr. Chris McGee.  The idea: cardboard arcade games!

Today, I had the privilege of viewing the result of the middle school students' learning and what it looks like when expressed in wonderfully creative and imaginative ways.  Please check out the video below of Mr. Rambach's students sharing their arcades (and learning) with the children at Avery School (Mr. Dempsey's class went to Hudson last week).  I hope you enjoy the sounds and images of the process and product of high-quality learning taking place (all students and adults) at Avery School today.

Inspiration + Caring People(Teachers) + The Internet = Changed Lives!

 Each child, Each day....John