What if you were picked up and out of your current teaching assignment, given an empty school and 20 students, ages 9-14, of all abilities/demographics and were told to create a learning environment for them. You're told that you may have whatever tech tools/furniture, etc you'd like. Money is not an issue here! Your job is to set up the school for 20 students total.

However, and here's the kicker, you're not to have individual classes, as we currently think of them. No Science, no social studies, no language arts, no PE, no art, NOTHING. You are to integrate all student learning under "global learning concepts." You can create as many periods a day as you want, in order to put structure to the time, but there are to be no traditional classes and no age-based grade levels.

Where do you begin? What are the essentials that need to be in place to not only address curriculum standards, but also to prepare students for their lives in and beyond University?

Take this as far as you'd like! Who knows...maybe this situation actually exists!

Tags: challenge, innovation, integrated

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Yes, I'm familiar with the tablets and I do use a projector with the computer from time to time (am dreaming of the tablets with this year's supply list).

I like this idea, as I like the smart board, for very limited amounts of time. For the majority of the time, however, I'd like the students' heads all turned toward each other, and not focused in one area.

Perhaps the tablets/projector is a more cost-effective option for the limited use that the pieces may get. I don't know yet, but appreciate your input!
Ginger Lewman,
Please specify the time (in months or years) that teacher will be given to setup the learning environment.
What would be the expectations & co-operation by students and parents ?
Instead of Teachers designing a Dream School, why not allow students to come out with their own design of a Dream School ?
The time you're given is 2 months to get it set up before students come in, but you're allowed to modify and adjust as needed for forever.

Expectations and co-operation by students and parents? Your choice! you can have them as involved or not involved as you'd like.

As for your idea of having kids design their school, I agree with that so much. however, the caution I have with that is that you have got to have students who can envision options beyond the scope of previous experiences in traditional schools, and you have a limited amount of time to set up. So in your idea of getting student designed input, how would this look if you were to start school in 2 months?
Well, two points come to mind...

1. I think it's unrealistic, as you say, to have students design a school. They simply don't have the experience base, but who does. I'd say, however, that they should be included on the committee, not everyone on your committee is going to be an expert either, but they are all stakeholders. I think that by including them in the process you MIGHT get some interesting input, but DEFINANTELY would "walk the talk" about student empowerment and students owning their own learning. It seems to me that simply asking students for design ideas in a vacuum doesn't teach them anything about the process you will go through.

2. You might have only 2 months set up, but that's just the beginning. Having some students participate in planning, governance, and the adjustments that will occur as time goes on would be an incredible learning experience for everyone involved. We want students to tackle authentic problems and become citizens of the future---well, here's the chance to involve them in the most important process of all, one that will impact their own lives, and be guided by adults who care deeply about education and children.
It does already exist in a few places.

First of all, every home educating family that I know of (mine included) uses this model. By necessity all abilities, ages, and desires have to be dealt with. No 'specific' classes, although through the day there is emphasis on math/science, history/anthropology, and language/art. All subjects are taught inter-disciplinary (is that the right term?), meaning the history of math is taught along with the math, and the science of language is taught along with language.

We base our curriculum on the Waldorf school model of education, which does things almost exactly as you are proposing. In America, this is hampered and tempered somewhat due to the emphasis on test scores and achievement, but it mostly exists.

I suggest you find a local Waldorf school and spend some time talking to the principal or maybe even some of the faculty to get a better idea of how it works.
Yes, I agreee: Waldorf Education can provide us with some very effective models. One of my closest friends is a Waldorf teacher. She's such an inspiration to me. (Hi Ming Wei!!!)
That's an interesting concept! I've not been familiar with the Waldorf schools except in passing, so may have to connect with one.
Hi Ginger,
Still, I think your main models/inspiration would come from yourself (you are such an experienced, lively, questioning, and vital teacher) and from sites like Edutopia and Coalition for Essential Schools. I'm working on a site that compiling educational reform models; tell you when it's ready. Want any visitors to come help you set up? :) We idealists have to stick together!
YES! I just put my thoughts to "paper" a second ago in a blog called "Life Practice Model." A lot of my inspiration has come from Kevin Honeycutt (my own personal cheerleader and cheerleader of many), but most definitely from you and other like-minded folks here at Classroom 2.0.

Please check out my blog entry and do invite me to the site! OH, and if you're interested, after reading the blog, to see how this planning is continuing, let me know. I'm having a "save the world" planning session July 9 - 11. I'm sure we can Skype you in. I'm being very jealous of my time and only inviting in those who I know well enough to that I think I can benefit from them. If this baby flies, I'll be doing all sorts of trainings, but for now, I need to jealously "live and let die."

To anyone else--if you're interested in joining in in person or virtually, let me know. I'd hate to not invite someone who I've been able to benefit from so far!! (please ignore the poor grammar) :)
Omi-gosh! I am kind of in the same boat as you and I too am in Kansas. I am so going to print off the discussions you are having. I have left a tech rich school to build an after school program that sounds a lot like what you described. I have the state of the art building (as a teen center already exists) with 10 desktops as of now and need to know where to go from here. It is hard to start with a blank page, but it is also so exciting! Where in Kansas? I am in Salina.
I have attached a file named "Vision of Education" with contents on EXTRACURRICULARS AS THE CURRICULUM: A VISION OF EDUCATION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY by Roger C. Schank.
I do not know how many educators in this group, agree with the views of Mr. Schank. But I liked his approach. His dream of putting every subject book in the form of online course accessible to every student everywhere, leading to a new role for teachers as described by him is fascinating to me. How effective the online courses would be, whether they can replace the interactive teaching by teachers, whether students & parents can receive these online courses and utilise them to the fullest extent possible, whether practically "actual learning" takes place in the complete absence of teacher's intervention, however great & knowledgeable the creator of the online courses may be, whether development of online courses for "learning by doing" is practically possible for all subjects of knowledge, even though latest software on simulation games, Virtual Reality, DirectX technologies have developed amazingly. Sorry for so many questions. But I feel this is right forum that I can express these questions. I invite answers from the users especially who have worked for / implemented Roger's philosophy.
- seshagiri
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