Thursday, April 5, 2012

Another Email

This is a copy of an email I sent out to the staffs of the two schools I work with this year. 

Every once in awhile I am asked about what we do in Oneco's Gifted Program or what is meant by "We are a Laboratory and NOT a Factory" and I do my best to explain. I have talked about Constructivism Learning Theory, Challenge Based Learning and students honing a multitude of cross curriculum academic standards through their experiences. Yet, the process goes much deeper than that. Recently, I read a fantastic article from 2008 "School as Inquiry" by Steven Wolk and thought it really does a great job of explaining the principles behind our projects and activities well. Different verbiage is used, but the principles and concepts are the same. In fact another author said it best-"Well, as long as real, student-driven inquiry is at the core, what's in a name?" I think my favorite quote from the article is,"An inquiry-based schools at there very best do not just practice inquiry with their students, they also invite -even expect- teachers to use inquiry to improve their practice." With that said, please know that I am consistently working to improve our process and helping prepare students for their futures through these types of activities. I have read several books that have explored these principles. My favorite being Starting from Scratch by Steven Levy that was given to me by Linda Rollyson (one of the BEST) before she retired five or six years ago. Also, strategic reading skills have been incorporated into our endeavors; including the lessons from both The Primary and Intermediate Comprehension ToolKits throughout the last three years.  I am currently devouring and loving the book several of you are reading Inquiry Circles: Comprehension and Collaboration by Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels (thanks Liz Reilly for the recommendation). I actually will be part of an informal book club based on this book with a teacher or two from other schools. As well as, being in constant communication with other teachers from around the world implementing Challenge Based Learning on Apple's Challenge Based Learning Community Website , Twitter, Facebook and email.

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