Tuesday, September 27, 2011

C21: Now You See It

Cathy Davidson's new book, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work and Learn, provides the most thoughtful, readable, and engaging work I have seen yet on the rationale behind and the need for 21st Century Learning.

Many of her main points are also covered in this lecture she gave recently at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.  The lecture is good.  The book is better.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Playdough, YouTube, and the Hypothalamus

With their college textbooks laid out in front of them, a video of a dissection playing on the SMART Board, and playdough in their hands, our AP Psychology students in the GMSG set out to construct a brain...

Monday, September 19, 2011

What People in Wheelchairs Can Do (in Hebrew)

It is for moments like this that people enter the field of education.

When Morah Hemda informed her 4th grade Hebrew class that as part of their Tal Am unit on Ha-Kitah Ha-Me'uchedet (the cohesive class) their virtual classroom would include a character in a wheelchair and they'd learn just how much a wheelchair-bound person could do, one 4th grader got particularly excited.  She quickly let Morah Hemda know that her mother is wheelchair-bound and how little that stops her from doing.

Sensing a teachable moment, Morah Hemda asked the fourth grader if she'd be willing to prepare a powerpoint presentation for the class - in Hebrew, of course - on what life is like for her mother.  She excitedly obliged.

Below is a video of her presentation.  The only thing more remarkable than the display of her Hebrew skills, is the display of her courage.

Monday, September 12, 2011

C21: Collaborative Research In Kindergarten

What do camels, jaguars, and sharks have in common?  They were all the subjects of a collaborative research project launched today between our Kindergartners and their 5th Grade Buddies.

The 5th Grade Buddies program is something our teachers developed three years ago primarily as a means of giving our Kindergartners a familiar face in the "big kid" wing while exposing our 5th graders to meaningful communal service.  This year, however, Mrs. Lewter and Morah Michelle decided to give the program a 21st century twist.  The result was a stunning display of what 21st century learning is all about.

As part of the Kindergarten unit on families, each student was assigned an "animal family" from which they had to choose an animal to research.  While the concept of "research" was new for our Kindergartners - and while their inventive spelling would probably have left even Google perplexed - such was not the case for our 5th Graders.   So the Kindergartners were tasked with asking questions about their animals while their 5th grade Buddies used glossy picture-filled print pamphlets and our new laptops to walk them through the process of finding their answers.  If they ran out of questions or had trouble finding answers, one of the teachers was there to guide them along or to get them back on track.

Together the Kindergartners and 5th Graders examined articles and pictures on National Geographic, Kidzone, Wikipedia, and a host of other sites.  Together they identified fascinating facts about their animal and entered them into a Google Doc for everyone else to see.  Together they modeled for the rest of us what 21st century education ought to look like: collaborative learning driven by student interest and student inquiry in which teachers guide the information gathering process rather than dominating it.

Of course, this was only step one.  When the Kindergartners and their Buddies get back together next time, they'll take the information they've gathered and put it to good use.  So stay tuned for the next update.  In the  meantime enjoy the pictures and the video clip below.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rosh Chodesh in the GMSG

In what has now become a tradition, the high school students in the girls high school invited the junior high girls to join them for a festive davening and breakfast in honor of Rosh Chodesh. The GMSG students then spread out through the Memphis community to lend a hand to those in need. One group responded to an emergency appeal for volunteers from the Midsouth Food Bank. Another group engaged in mind stimulating activities with Alzheimer's sufferers at Dorothy's Place. The third group went to Dozier House, a rehabilitation facility for homeless drug addicts. At Dozier House the students and residents painted flower pots together and planted small plants for the residents to keep in their rooms. The girls learned a lot from hearing about the residents' struggles and about how helpful it is for them to interact with young people who care.