Today I had the unusual opportunity of being outside the classroom for much of the day. With students working on YouTube rock documentaries for my class, only a third of the students were in the science classroom while others spread out into empty rooms, hallways, nearby stairwells… anywhere a make-shift filming studio might be able to sprout. With the need to spread out came a need for me to be in multiple locations.
My increased mobility came as a result of gracious colleagues Lucy Driscoll and Peter Dolan, specialists who maintained order over groups that had to be more carefully observed, and Robyn Ferrazzani, our over-extended librarian who still made time to help students use the library macs and green screen in the Parker News Live space.
Curiously, a memo seemed to have been passed to the rest of the 8th grade teachers that today was time to get out of classroom and produce! Over the course of the day I lay witness the following inside and outside the classroom.
- Students in small groups throughout the 8th grade hallways demonstrating their knowledge of rock origins and characteristics in ways ranging from documentaries to short poetry.
- Adam Amster’s social studies students transforming into a body of self-aggrandizing Mongols.
- Individual students recording short narrations of introspective regret into iPod recorders for Steve Olivo’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ project.
- Power-lunch sessions of small group work and study in the library and classroom areas (teachers clearly dedicating extra time to their students!)
- Teachers showing students how to work with one another to learn academic knowledge of geology and ancient China as well as master technical skill with flip cameras / iPods.
- Students singing about the (Qin?) dynasty to the tune of a Beatles song.
- Students doing 90% of the thinking / experimenting / rehearsing / work.
- Teachers facilitating a learning environment.
Getting students out of the classroom gave more than just an opportunity for students to produce more quality projects. The flexible learning space gave me the opportunity to see teachers with wildly ranging styles of instruction, age, experience, and comfort with technological tools put on a professional learning clinic of how to engage students in their education.
I should aim to get out in the hallways more often!