Thursday, February 26, 2009

Learning in earnest

We are right back in the swing of things after February Break. It does seem like the year is flying by! Thesis writing and dressing like princesses have begun in earnest.

Teachers had a truly worthwhile professional development day on Monday with Robert Greenleaf of Greenleaf Learning. Bob is an international specialist in applying brain research to classroom practice. He gives teachers methods to help students maximize long term memory and recall.

The key is that learning must have meaning. Out-of-context activities won't cut it - the information just won't stay in our brains. For long term retention, information must have relevance. That is already something that our project-based program gives students, and that drill-and-kill and test-based programs can't accomplish.

Another Greenleaf tenet is "The one who does the work is the one who learns." Useful at home as well as school!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

High tech, low tech

The new portable Smartboard interactive whiteboard we received as part of a technology grant allowed K-1's to have a preview of African animals. Meanwhile a middle school social studies class was watching a web video clip on the other Smartboard about the race to develop the atomic bomb.

At the same time, 5th grade math class was sewing a geometric pieced quilt. Meanwhile, Pre K 4 was off in space in their Parker School Rick Rack Rocket Ship, making fans for when they passed hot planets and building a radio to communicate to the mother ship.

Check out to read an amazing account of the process of learning in 2-3.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hot off the press

Who says the newspaper business is dead? These 3rd graders set a deadline to produce a dinosaur themed paper, and yipee! they are celebrating as the first copy pops out of the copier. Subscriptions are being taken in the 2-3 room. There are already seven. Theme of the second edition? Global warming.

Concurrently, a fifth grader also produced a newspaper and has a few staff openings: "Advice columnist, reporter, and weather person for hire. Must be 2nd grade or over." Sign up in the library if interested.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I did it myself!

Taking responsibility for learning is a key part of Parker's culture. Negotiating a book choice for a reading circle, checking out the day's headlines (or hat ads), collecting the recycling, or making sure the kids get outside - everyone is involved in the community of learning.

The 3-year-old's pride in "I can do it myself" is so powerful. That happy pride is the positive reinforcement that motivates us to keep on learning. Passive learning, "spoon feeding" doesn't cut it. Empowered learners become life-long learners!