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, October 4, 2010

October 4th

Yikes Monday!
Monday October 4,


Today was a good day of clarity as I met with Tim and planned for priorities in the work we are doing. He asked me about my dissertation research which was a nice way to start the conversation. I know that he is thinking of pursuing a doctorate degree as well. I think that the more questions he asks of people the better decision he will make in terms of this being a good path to take.

As for "OH" things he provided me with a good outside voice looking in. With his experiences from last year in his mind he was able to suggest ways to be proactive about communicating with parents about what we are doing with curriculum and why we are rolling things out this way.

We also thought through the Costa Rica trip, writing an ISTE proposal, parent meetings and other things that we are trying to document. It was a long but productive meeting. It gave me clarity and a renewed sense of direction.

After the meeting I went up to school and had lunch. After lunch I really enjoyed my block working with the elementary students. They spent some time on math and some time working on their spore project. This project is highly engaging to them.

After school Randy and I planned and debriefed my meeting with Tim. We set out some goals for our planning time tomorrow which should help clarify all the tasks and roles the facilitator is asked to do daily. There is an amazing amount of things to managed while motivating and keeping track of student work. It can be done with deliberate systems for the facilitator (notice I did not say students) to manage their time. These systems also need to be flexible to allow for all the things that come up during the day. One concern that I have is that people will start gravitating back to the role of the traditional lecture driven teacher. I am hoping that by documenting Randy and I's work that we can make it transparent how not to succumb to these tendencies.

Finally, we met with Mason and his mom. Mason is doing really well this year and is amazingly fun to have around. I set out two things for him to think about: 1. What field experience would he like to do? and 2. Next time one comes up that he is not necessarily interested in I challenged him to go!

It was a good start to the week and I know it was partly due to my trip back to Gainesville over the weekend. I had the time to meet with other professional educators that I admire which fed both my professional soul and my friendship soul. The hardest part of my journey is not having a lot of people to collaborate with in terms of hearing their thoughts on things. This is also the part of the journey that I think is good for me because I am forcing myself to think deeper about things. I also have to have solid evidence for my thinking which requires lots of reading and reflecting about the work I am doing.


The major changes and introductions today included the writing component in high school and the presentation rubric in middle school. Elementary also decided to to a unit on Evolution using the spore game.

High School - We went over the particulars of persuasive writing today and looked up some sites that can help guide us. They picked a due date of this Friday for their rough draft and a final paper due on Tuesday next week. I will do a check in on Wednesday to look at possible introductions to this paper.

Middle School - They received their rubric for public presentations. We discussed the importance of proper dress, voice inflection and other ideas that will make their presentations stronger. Our plan is to present formally this coming Friday including an audience of parents, students, and possibly students from another school in the state using skype.

Elementary School - Began a unit on Evolution using gaming, specifically the game Spore developed by Will Wright (developer of the SIMS). Their formal writings are involved with this as they did with their morning inquiries and will include both science and social studies. I have plans to introduce this game to middle school as well to cover science and social studies.

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