To help encourage conversations about positive, nurturing, and growth-oriented elements for a classroom, our topic/question of the week is: (1) An environment of camaraderie, (2) frequented by focused, self-motivated people, (3) working with and for one another, (4) learning how to recognize and ask the right questions, (5) plus how to find and recognize the best answers. If you had to decide what 3 components top the list from this description of "an ideal classroom", could you?
As we embark upon this week before the April vacation, I hope that everyone was able to finally get a 'taste' of spring with the welcome weather we enjoyed. Our family had a nice weekend - taking Maggie and a friend to Blake's production of Peter Pan Friday evening, getting outside with the kids on Saturday and then seeing Holliston Middle School's production of The Wizard of Oz, and then finished off our 'performance weekend' by going to the Big Apple Circus Sunday afternoon with Katie's mom - certainly a busy couple of days, but 'all good'.
One of last week's highlights was attending the Special Olympics event Friday morning at Holliston High School. This was the third year that Medfield has worked with four other towns (Ashland, Holliston, Medway, and Millis), and we are very happy that this has become an annual event for our student-athletes and their families. As is often the case, I hesitate to recognize people who helped by name with the fear of forgetting someone, but I know it was a team endeavor. The past couple of years I have shared the Special Olympics oath with everyone in the blog, and I think it is worth sharing over and over again as they are indeed words that can guide us: 'Let me win. But if I can not win, let me brave in the attempt.'
Seeing our students on stage Friday evening was a wonderful way to end the week - a fantastic performance and reminder of the talents we have in the Blake community! It is always inspiring to see the finished product come to fruition after the long days and nights of hard work. A special thank you to Tracy and Kathleen for their leadership, commitment, and support of our students along with the help of Nancy Deveno, Nancy McLaughlin, Shawn Carrigan and Susie Boulos (fine staff actors!), and our custodial staff. Additional thanks go to our parent volunteers and the high school students who helped out as well.
In an effort to welcome spring, take a breath, and unplug I am simply sharing a few posts this week that help me take both a wide and narrow lens on our work with the students at Blake - moving from the ideas of creating/establishing a joyful space for learning, thinking about what 'awesome' looks like in the classroom, and some strategies that might help guide our work...
Create Joyful Space
post by Chris Lehmann (@chrislehmann)
Lehmann is the founding principal of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA and is an educator I admire and often reference. His energy and passion help to remind me that school should be student-centered and student-driven - a place that students want to come to and a place that they enjoy.
"I believe deeply that kids — and adults — can work hard in service of things they care about. I believe deeply that we, as people, can understand how meaningful, powerful work can be joyful, even when it’s hard."
"It’s not on the kids to love school. It’s on all of us to create joyful, profound, empowering spaces in school that are easy to fall in love with."
What Does Awesome Learning Look Like?
post by Tom Daccord (@thomasdaccord)
This brief post is based on Tom's keynote at a Google conference I was fortunate to attend in late February. He brings the overarching view of education to a simpler level by asking this question, and then pushing us to use further questions that 'matter' to help frame the work.
"For me, the process begins with engaging questions that challenge students to address issues and solve problems. Innovation doesn't start with technology, but technology can spur innovation through problem-solving research, creation, and collaboration The key is to formulate questions that lead to deeper learning and engagement."
"When the right question enters a student's ear, awesome learning can happen. So, let's continually work on asking questions that matter."
8 Things to Look For in Today’s Classroom
post by George Couros (@gcouros)
Couros's words outline some key aspects/ingredients he believes foster a learner-focused classroom that will help students be prepared for 'tomorrow': voice, choice, time for reflection, opportunities for innovation, critical thinkers, problem solvers/finders, self-assessment, connected learning.
"I really believe that classrooms need to be learner focused. This is not simply that students are creating but that they are also having opportunities to follow their interests and explore passions. The teacher should embody learning as well."
"...let’s start to really tap into the wisdom of our rooms and have students not only learn, but teach each other. There is a saying from my time as a referee was that the best officials are the ones that you never notice. Does the same hold true for a teacher? I have walked into classrooms and have been unable to identify who the teacher was immediately because they were, as Chris Kennedy would say, “elbows deep in learning” with their students."
How Family Card Games Teach Math, Memory and Self-Confidence
by Sue Shellenbarger in The Wall Street Journal
This last post is one that my mother sent to my siblings and me this week, reminding us of fond memories pre-mobile device entertainment. As a parent, educator, and individual wresting with 'balance', it was a timely and pertinent read that I thought was worth sharing with the community (thanks, Mom!).
I hope that this week allows time for all of us to reflect, enjoy learning, ask questions, witness 'awesome' learning, and (maybe) unplug. That may sound too ambitious, but I think they are worthy goals.
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