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Jonathan Sieg

Boy Scouts Eagle Scout

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A curriculum based around projects and collaborative efforts while deemphasizing standardized testing and homework

A curriculum based around group projects designed to challenge students, build confidence and creativity, and allow them practical hands-on learning should be implemented. The education would start at an early age, and emphasize creative learning and intellectual curiosity while still addressing fundamental reading, writing, and math. Essentially, the most important aspect of early education is stimulating a curiosity about the world to prepare students to be life-long, excited learners. Furthermore, socializing should be strongly encouraged, along with interesting group problem solving to inspire confidence and facilitate strong communication skills.
Analysis of student ability will be conducted by school counselors who work closely with students. The counselors serve mainly two purposes: ensure the emotional well-being of students is secure not only in the school environment but also at home and serve to develop new projects and group students for those projects together in the most effective way.
As students reach a point of maturity and ability to handle a more self-directed project based curriculum, counselors will essentially then take the place of teachers. Hopefully by the time students reach teenage years, they will become generally self-directed in learning. Counselors will then assess students through individual relationships and past projects to group students to create the most effective learning environment possible. The counselors will also decide on projects and challenges to assign the group. Ideally, these projects will encompass a wide variety of disciplines and be a goal that is plausible for the group, but still provides an interesting, relevant challenge. Students may have as few or as many projects as they can handle and which will provide the most profitable experience for learning.
When these students are assigned projects, the school will make many resources available for them. Counselors will then hold students accountable and focused.

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  • Dec 31 2013: There are actually schools and districts across the country that are working hard to move in this direction. Check out nextgenerationlearning.org for some examples. It is doable, and as folks realize that our current system isn't working for most students they are looking for ways to make a shift.
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      Jan 1 2014: You are right that this has been going on for a long time, with the one exception of not typically featuring such a large assessment role for school counselors.. It should be easy to research models in practice at thousands of schools over the last twenty years.
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        Jan 6 2014: Another example of continuous study and improvement in education, although again, no emphasis on emotional well being

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence-based_education#Meta-studies_of_classroom-based_experiments

        Hi Fritzie,

        The last conversation closed before I could respond to you about frameworks, but I think It's relevant here as well. I had meant to make two comments, the first as a student, and the second as a teacher.

        The first year I was the arts and crafts teacher, (and having zero artistic talent) I had the students pick a theme for each class, so 4th grade had butterflies, 5th had fish, 7th had musical instruments, etc and we made cutouts of about 4 inches each and spaced them out all over the classroom.

        After that, it was all finding possible charts and graphs and pictorial ways of complementing the other classes. At the end of the year, I made a timeline of 7000 years and put it at the bottom of the hallway wall (22 feet between classroom doors). The rest of the wall was filled with the various posters arranged according to when it happened or referred to. Turned out that just about all topics can find a place on the timeline. Some models were also made that were hung on a wire along the edge of the wall.

        This particular one consisted of all the grades, and was an excellent framework for all the grades. It was a really good visual reminder of what they already studied and served to arouse curiosity in what they had not yet studied.

        The next year, I started a timeline of geologic time and they proceeded to fill that wall up too. Enthusiastically! (I copied techtonic maps from the paleomap project and laid them out along that timeline too)

        I took another wall to make a flow chart of english grammar.

        Between all of those, we managed to touch on every subject and most levels. You should have seen how proudly they'd bring their work and hang it up as a permanent display for the whole school to see.
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          Jan 6 2014: Yes, I am familiar with these results, except that my understanding is that teacher's content knowledge is important in student learning, all other things equal. I could not teach Chinese effectively for example, and teachers whose math understanding is poor often set their students off course early in that subject.
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        Jan 6 2014: I agree, and the link was just to show that research is a continuous endeavor. as far as teacher knowledge, I believe that came from assessments of existing teachers who had some knowledge and the differentiation was about teachers having more than the required knowledge such as having a phd. (specialists do not get better results on average)

        To support your point, an english teacher here taught her students to pronounce spinach as spy-nak.
        "what she said?"
        all tag questions were "isn't it?" eg the dog can bite isn't it? instead of "can't it?"
        and apparently "whether you will come to the meeting" is a question...

        Sothat was someone who does not know english, then a qualified person would know english, but not necessarily need to have a masters in medieval english poetry

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