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 23, 2010

Thursday 9/23/10

No Reflection Yesterday Amy turned 40 and she took the day off!


The day started off with elementary. It has been my goal to continue to work with writing through science content and social studies. Yesterday we focused on the differences between reptiles and amphibians so I was thinking we would do social studies today. However, when Ellee brought in a dead "mystery bug" in an envelope, it was going to be another day with science content. We spent some time arguing on what it was before doing research, sharing and publishing. The general online content time seems to be working like this.
  1. Assess background knowledge - talking, arguing, using the white board, putting down observations
  2. Timed (by watch) research time - quite, individualized
  3. Document findings (google shared doc, spreadsheet etc)
  4. Writing forms that express findings (on blog or document) - 4th grade working on solid paragraph writing, 5th grade working on advanced multi-paragraph writing
After elementary time, I move to middle school and high school project time. Middle school is in in their final steps, finding experts and doing final revisions. They used amazon.com to look for authors about tarantulas and use this information to help find experts. Also, it was recommended that they look for forums on this topic as that was a successful finding during the sea hare project.
High school's project time was spent on the main structure of their project on hybrid cars. Each student has put together their section and is revising and checking each others work. Most interesting is Nathan and Leah who will be bringing their bikes tomorrow to go count cars to get a ratio of hybrid to regular cars and compare that to the national average. They will go to state road 98 about a mile down the road. Great research idea and use of real research strategies. I look forward to their findings.
We will also share their spreadsheets with their parents and have them work on daily reflections today. It will be really great to have these projects finally complete and published. They seem to be happy with their projects and I know they will be proud of their progress.


Today was a low energy day all around. There was nothing bad about it everyone seemed just to be really relaxed and working.

I had a two hour meeting with Tim and Paige.

The student work is phenomenal at this point. Their projects and thinking is just amazing. Listening to elementary students discover what they thought was a spider is actually a bug called a "cow eater" and middle school students produce blogs with arguments over whether or not tarantulas are good is just heaven. Experts are responding to the students which is always exciting. It is nice to have the student work reviewed by an expert on the topic.

Elementary curriculum continues to take the majority of the facilitator's time. I thought that our students were working pretty autonomously until I spoke to Randy and he is guessing that he is spending 80-90% of his day with elementary students. We set up a meeting with Tim about this dilemma and HS language arts.

As I sit here all alone in the school at 5:35pm I think about things like how are our students feeling at this point? Are they happy to be here? They are a wonderful bunch of students and this is a great place to be during the day.

My mantra is trust, respect and professionalism.

The daily list:

community time: talked about Chef nelson and did a community builder
checked email and confirmed parent meetings for this weekend
met with Tim and Paige 9-11:00am
11:00-12:00pm worked on planning list with Randy, organized notes and tasks for the day.
12:00pm lunch
12:30-2:45 Planning block with Randy:
  • parent meetings talk through and plan together
  • excel sheet and FLVS/PBL work-student understanding process, where we go from here
  • pace and organizing time at home
  • October 13th PSAT
  • Field Experience
  • December travel window:
    • what are your plans?
    • student need to have these plans set by mid October so the project background info can be done and project plan in place
  • Lingering questions/issues/support that I can provide
  • look at week #5 together
  • look over graffiti from student fundraising meeting
  • music HS see notes
  • LA conversation
  • PBL accountability structure-so it does not get overshadowed by FLVS maybe:
  • p1: group project
  • p2: individual
  • p3: partner
  • How do we keep them moving forward? check ins?
  • Do they have to choose different types throughout the year (individual, group, partner etc.)?
  • How many projects do they do each year?
  • list of things juggling:PBL, working one on one, planning, tutoring, check ins..what else? SAT, ACT, PSAT, planning, music and teaching elementary curriculum
  • (language arts, reading, PBL for Science and Social Studies)
  • reflections
  • Student feedback form: Music, Design, Schedule,PBL process
Community time:
  • talked about field experiences and the way they are set up
Looked over parent meeting notes and follow up list
Looked over iphone list and updated weekly meeting document
Scheduled weekend time for: Dissertation work and PBL work
Emailed/Text Tim about: HS Music class, fundraising meeting, new PBL website, ISTE proposal
Answered parent emails
Updated: Weekly meeting document, parent communication, reflection blog
Looked over and organized tomorrow’s priorities
Wrote reflections

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