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...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday November 9th

Randy -

Another surprisingly great day. One highlight was the elementary students making a non-Newtonian fluid of cornstarch and water. They showed how when pressure is applied, it turns solid and goes back to liquid when they are done.

The HS and MS PBL block was strong again today. All projects show a good deal of promise. I need to do a better job of doing check ins however for students as I'm worried about how far behind they will get in the FLVS. I'm finally feeling the excitement for the PBL which is the way it should be.

I will continue with elementary math tomorrow and build upon their non-Newtonian fluid idea. It is a good topic that can be used for math.


PBL time today rocked! It was amazing to have all three levels working on projects at the same time. I videoed because you cannot capture the excitement and learning going on with writing. A- M- A- Z -I- N -G!

The persistent dilemma that arises with parents is why things continue to change and are their children falling behind where they were last year. My response to this is who determines what falling behind really is, the current education system? This is a dilemma that runs 4-11th because the parents profess that they want things to be innovative and different but when you stray from the traditional instructional path they push back with concern.

One ongoing sort of funny conversation between Randy and I is that we are really the crazy ones. Our belief is that the students especially in the elementary division are getting so much more out of their learning than they would in a traditional school. They are writing about authentic things, choosing topics based on interests of their own, incorporating reflections about what they are doing and how to do things better next time. None of these things happen in a traditional classroom. In traditional classrooms/schools every subject is pretty much taught in isolation and there is little to no connection between them. Students are all given the same "hit" of instruction on any given day and expected to progress at the same rate.

What we are learning here is that although to parents individualized pacing and interest based learning sounds great that the parents still push for the traditional box. We hear things like, " We are worried about grammar, we are worried that they do not know math, PBL work is not being assessed so how do we know they are learning, what about products from PBL, we want our child to read the classics and know important historical events..." I am not saying that any of this is wrong it is just the traditional educational box. People say they want innovation and interest based learning but when it does not come in a pretty package that is recognizable as traditional learning they push to get their kids back into the box. Very VERY interesting!

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