Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How do we motivate kids?

A preschooler explores the properties and movement of water and air.

A sixth grader designs his own project for the 3D printer with Google Sketch Up.

A K-1 team uses their knowledge of force and motion to move a ball with a LEGO robot.

An eighth grader leads her mother and grandfather through her portfolio and goals at her student-led conference.
How do we motivate kids at Parker?  Motivation has been a big topic in the education news lately and here are some great articles about what elements you need in school to create it.

How to Foster Students' Mindsets and What Keeps Students Motivated to Learn? both in MindShift.

These articles could have been written about Parker, along with another, Moving Towards Inquiry about Project Based Learning (PBL), that urges schools to use PBL as effectively as we do.

The methods and mindsets described by these prominent educators tell the story of how we teach at Parker. They are not just buzzwords and they really do motivate students.  Here are a few of the elements we weave into the life of the school. The pictures above show some of them in action.

  • Inquiry
  • Deep learning
  • Student-centered culture
  • Collaborative teams
  • Integrated projects
  • Hands on learning
  • Topics relevant to students
  • Self and peer evaluation
  • Learning from failure
  • Belonging to an academic community

These elements describe the tenets of the progressive movement in education. They are inherent in our mission.  We do them really well - and they work.  The education mainstream is finally catching on - and urging schools to be more like Parker.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Kids need adventure

All right - we won't go quite as far as creating The Land as described in The Atlantic's article The Overprotected Kid.  But our Planet Parker Summer Program has elements of crazy - and that's why kids love it.  The new brochure is here.  Sign your kids up today for some old fashioned adventures!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When "failure" is a good thing

Giving students experience with "failure" is a crucial piece of creating a culture of innovation.  As Thomas Edison said, "I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work."  The Power of Failing in the Atlantic, tells the story in corporate terms; why failure is the driving force behind genius. 

Now translate the concept into teaching 5 and 6-year-olds.  In K-1 science class, students explored force and motion. The way the learning situation was designed supported students' natural drive to learn. It sparked innovation. Failing in the traditional sense did not enter in, but failing in the sense of persevering to succeed offered great reward. 

Here is a full description of the science activity from K-1 teacher, Liliana DeGiorgio's blog:

This week students concluded their exploration of force and motion. The children worked diligently on making predictions, designing, and constructing a Marble Escape Course Design. During this study the children were mainly challenged to determine what changes a ball's motion.  Kate Perry, our science teacher, explains: "The children performed lots of experimentation with pushes, pulls, drops, bounces, ramps, sizes, and shapes.  The K-1's hypothesized, tested and analyzed their results for how surface materials, applied forces, height, ramp angles, curved paths and surface texture make a difference with how a ball moves. Collaborating in small groups to construct a 6' path for their marble, the K-1's eagerly applied appropriate skills, learning, and force and motion concepts to help their marble make it through."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Planet Parker

Due to a bit of technical difficulty we couldn't show this little slide show during the Planet Parker coffee this morning.  Here it is in all its glory!  Click on the link at the bottom for a full view.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Monday, March 10, 2014

Haiku Deck

I'm experimenting with a new way to put together a slide show.  I tried my first with the Parker Mission statement.  Let's see how it works.  To see the full picture, click on the link at the bottom that says Haiku Deck.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app