Friday, August 31, 2007

Looking Forward to School

When you think about summer with its days spent in the sun, vacations to beautiful places, unlimited time spent with friends, and freedom to learn about and do whatever you please – it’s little wonder that returning to school comes with its disappointments.

But what if learning about physics was as exciting as going to Six Flags? What if the books you read in class were as enjoyable as ones you read on the beach? What if studying geometry was as engaging as building a tree fort?

Then we might start looking forward to school.

What if this year…
  • Instead of worksheets and rote memorization, students experience exciting real-world projects that connect what they are learning to life outside of school.
  • Instead of following class rules out of fear of punishment or because they seek a reward, students want to do the right thing because they feel valued as members of a learning community.
  • Instead of answering questions at the end of book chapters, students are constantly asked questions throughout the school day that challenge them to think at a higher level.
  • Instead of worrying about multiple-choice tests and pop quizzes, students experience multiple forms of assessment including rubrics, long-term projects, and performance tasks. And, they are informed ahead of time about the concepts that will be tested.
  • Instead of fearing bullies in the classroom and on the playground, students feel safe in their school environment because their teachers have created supportive, trusting, and inclusive learning communities.
  • Instead of predictable days that are always the same, students experience multiple approaches to instruction that embrace their varied learning styles, interests, and abilities.
If these alternatives sound good to you, start championing them in your school. Talk to your teachers about the changes you wish you see and provide them with resources to learn about best practices in current educational thinking. You can use our website as a launch pad for starting these conversations.

It’s time to call for a change in our schools. It’s time to ensure they make the most of students’ innate desire to learn.

STAY TUNED: Next Wednesday we'll post another blog offering more specific examples of what these alternatives would actually look like in the classroom.

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