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...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Week #5

We apologize up front for not starting this blog sooner in the year but we figured better to start now than not to start at all.

Daily Reflections: Randy - Monday September 20

It's a Monday for sure. The morning was quiet and subdued as we began to wake up our brains. We changed the project work time to accommodate students so that I could be with them during the entire process. Elementary did their project work first looking up information on carnivorous plants ranging from species, maps and what they actually eat. Trae and Hanna were the only ones here so they worked simultaneously on a shared document both on different slides. It was actually really amazing to see them using their technology at such a high level. I also was very impressed with how meticulous they were when they cited their work. We joked about how the plagiarism SWAT team would come through the roof on tether ropes and arrest us if we didn't cite our sources.

Middle school was next after a very fun, but short, brain break. Their project focuses on tarantulas and what I like best is the argumentative and opinionated structure of their project. The project will have 2 directions like a "choose your own adventure" where the audience can choose between the arguments of "tarantulas are dangerous" or "tarantulas are not dangerous". What a fun way to integrate content and standards. On a side note, we did get to hold the tarantulas and even used the microscope to look at the irticating hairs of one of the species. Really amazing for sure.

During this second block, we were able to also get work done on the high school project. Their essential question is "Are hybrid cars really better for the environment?" I don't think you can get a better question than that. They divided the question in to parts that they will work with a partner on to gather information to put the project together. We are in the process of discussing the best way to put the project together (wiki, slide show, glogster and even the idea of an actual poster board). Walking through the project is really a great way to learn together and I'm enjoying the great insights of the students.

After lunch and kickball, we did music. All bands are doing some great work and it was fun to hang out with "Someday Soon" consisting of the high school girls. They picked a tricky song and it amazes me how fast they can learn when they work together.
All in all, what a great day. We had many accomplishments and I think is was one of our best days of work yet. I can't wait until tomorrow!

Daily Reflections: Amy-9/20/10:

  • My schedule a brain dump: community time, meeting with Tim (Parent mtg), Create Randy planning after school list, trip time line list, work on parent email for parent meeting, worked with Sea Hare group on pictures for presentation, work on rough draft of table of contents for the documentation of the year, set up field experience with Chef Nelson, lunch/kickball, ilearn math with elementary, check in Hunter, updated documents: parent communication log, week #5, dilemma sheet,day by day sheet, created daily reflection shared document, planned/debriefed day with Randy, worked on the following at home: resent attachment to parent group, created blog for reflections, answered and composed email, set up ilearn for Sara...
  • Today things that worked well: PBL time and parent mtg planned and looks good.
  • Persistent dilemmas: still the amount of time ilearn takes for elementary, lack of consistency when it comes to reflective blogs for students, I need to get away to be able to focus more on administrative tasks/documentation, not feeling like I can actually send anything out before it gets approved holds up the process a bit- I will need to get ahead of things more to get things out in a timely manner.
  • Questions/wonderings:
    • Roles: Is it possible for Randy to facilitate all the things during the day and keep students on track academically and is he suppose tutor them as well?
    • Balance: how much time should be spent with students vs me getting tasks done to document process as well as moving towards an independent school model?
    • Did Jordin get his spreadsheet done?
    • What kinds of structures do we still need to put in place for ourselves (facilitators) to keep everything moving ahead
  • I am working on this issue:
    • Several students falling behind. I see some starting to do avoidance behaviors like staying home and coming in late. Need to help them manage their time. All of our students are capable of this type of work but the rigor is starting to become a reality.
  • Overall: Things are moving in a good direction and today was one of the best days in terms of the balance between project work, virtual school, music and students being accountable for their learning-yay!

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