I find any time I make to get into classrooms very useful, to observe instruction and speak with teachers and students about teaching and learning. It really helps to broaden and update my understanding of what innovative teaching happens here. I hosted a visitor from another school today and ended up joining him for all of the observations and faculty conversations instead of dropping him off.
In an Upper School math class, Lauren effortlessly moved among the students, her computer, and the Smart Board. Students completed problems on paper with the assistance of Geometer’s Sketchpad as a modeling environment, and then Lauren manipulated the same model on the Smart Board while checking for student understanding.
In seventh grade World Cultures, students spent the period developing their trip planning projects, in which they design a hypothetical trip to an eastern hemisphere country in great detail, including a daily itinerary and budget. The entire project is completed in Google Apps (Earth, Docs, and Spreadsheet).
Beyond the trip planning project, it was interesting to note the new table arrangement in Paul’s classroom and how every student was completely on task. The S shaped classroom arrangement provides for both student collaboration and quick teacher access.
In third-year computer science, Andrew explained that students were building simple computers from the most base level using bread boards and a computer-based modeling program. We also discussed the place of computer science in a six-discipline high school and the role of AP exams in our schools.
Early World History students worked in small groups to formulate four different kinds of thesis statements and post their ideas to an online forum for class discussion. These ideas will form the foundation for their individual final writing assignment of the year.
Media Arts students were honing their practice with critique, explaining their reactions to their peers’ work to each other, and then taking notes on a video.
In these classrooms, computers were used very naturally in the course of teaching and learning. They did not receive undue attention, and frankly they were hardly mentioned. Desktop and website applications functioned as part of the fabric of the learning environment, and the students mostly accessed prior knowledge to complete the work of the day.