Welcome to our blog

This is the story of two educators on one journey. Each day we will record our reflections on the process of being involved in an innovative educational environment. The decision on our part to leave the public education system was deliberate due to our growing frustrations over the factory "one size fits all" model of education. This model has dominated the educational landscape and is not designed to meet the needs of the 21st century learner. Step one in our journey was to find a place that would allow us the freedom to break out of the system. We needed a chance to just breath and facilitate learning in the ways that we both know are best for children. That step has led us to Rosemary Beach Florida to work with the students attending the OH Institute. The OH Institute is a unique educational environment that we find humane. The curriculum focus is on the individual learner with an infusion of technology project based learning. Currently, it has 20 students in grades 4-11 all of whom are seeking something different than what the factory system of education has to offer. This is where our adventure begins...

Thursday, September 30, 2010



The morning started before school working with Alex on chemistry. It surprises me (but shouldn't) how linear and anticreative the flvs way is. I think chemistry should lend itself to being creative, but is is very dry. It seems to me, and this is my opinion, that FLVS is something to get done, not learn from. I guess this has it's parallels to our school system as well.

We did ITBS today also, and all seemed well. Not very exciting, but just fine. These scores will help us look at growth during the year. The rest of the day is spent on catching up on the FLVS classes. Same schedule tomorrow as it will be our last day of testing.

Getting in a reflection time is still tricky, but we'll get better. We did a blog entry today and I hope we can encourage the students to really think about strong reflections and how to make those entries something that is very nice.

Today and tomorrow we are giving the ITBS test of basic skills. It was a lot of direction reading and watching the kids test. We also have to hand score 20 tests and convert them to Standard Scores, grade equivalent scores and NPR which can be inefficient and leave room for errors. While they were testing I worked on composing a letter to the High School students talking about book selection fro their language arts course. I gave them things to remember for their selection and a website that is a good resource for them to find books. I also encouraged them to find books on different genres. They will be using their self selected books to write weekly literary reflections as well as a literary analysis.

After the testing was done we moved on to elementary math time. Mr. Tim joined us and we had all students working on EDU2000 math. We found that there were some inconsistencies in the system such as the assessments do not randomize questions nor do they ask new questions each time. A student that takes an assessment has the opportunity to see what they got wrong and then they can retake the same exact assessment. The assessments are only 4 questions long so it was pretty easy to figure our how to cheat the system. The dilemma that I have with anything online for elementary math is really are the students learning? Both Randy and I feel that this is not a developmentally appropriate way for them to learn and should be used as a supplement to another curriculum. We feel like it is not best for kids and that they are not learning. I am going to talk to Mr. Tim about it tomorrow in a meeting but I think that he is pretty set on using an online curriculum with them.

During planning time with Randy we sent the High school email out and worked on the ITBS testing schedule for tomorrow. I also shared the virtual school letter with him. The good news is that we did not get much planning time in and I say this is good news because we had students using this time to get some one on one help with their course work. As I said to Randy the student needs come first, we can find time later for planning.

When we did have time to do some hand scoring of the ITBS it was really interesting to see how the students fell out on the testing. Some did extremely well and others did well in some areas but not others. However, the make up of our student population is still way above average and there are not concerns when looking at standardized test scores. Today we had reading and tomorrow we have math.

The final task of my day was to have a five week check in with Leah and her mom. Leah came in after school had already started so I was curious to see how she was liking things. She is always on task and sweet as can be. Even though my impression was that she was liking it I wanted to be sure. My suspicions were confirmed that she is really happy at OH-yay!

Community time:
elem/ms/hs vocab and reading comprehension
Letter to HS
FLVS letter
Math with Elem
grade ITBS
met with Randy to plan for ITBS tomorrow, share virtual school letter and go over HS language arts.
Met with Leah and her mom for the five week check in

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