This year, I have tried to focus on creating opportunities for my students to learn. Whether, it is through student inquiry or the soft skills associated with burgeoning relationships with their peers and/or teachers, I want my students to have the opportunity to grow. The idea of growth was especially highlighted in my mind when I completed a philosophy course last summer, as well as my experience with a sustainability project, and my time at the ISTE Conference.
Through a philosophy course, I gained insight about various educational philosophies of Socrates, Horace Mann and John Dewey (to name a few). It was once I reacquainted with the educational philosophy of John Dewey that I made a few realizations of the changes I wanted to make in my school library program. The idea that young people should be given the chance to learn through hands-on activities, as well as the prospect that students who have a voice in their education have a deeper level of understanding for lessons in school resonated with me. I was able to see the moments when students truly blossomed before my eyes and I wanted to make sure I gave my students more opportunities to grow.
The idea of growth was also sustained (pardon the pun) when I took part in the Teacher Sustainability Project at Arizona State University. A wonderful opportunity, my time in Phoenix, Arizona allowed me the chance to experience the hands-on opportunities that I wanted to create for my students. By receiving information from various experts about sustainability and its connection to the economy, community and environment, I was able to acquire knowledge that made me more excited to learn more and eager to create a project with my project partner, Mrs. Bajpai. By the time we completed the week long course, we had devised a project that would enhance our school environment and give our students a chance to learn through action.
The Sustainabilit Project went well. A local Home Depot was able to donate plants and flowers that teachers could place in the classrooms. Teachers who elected to take part in the project were given a plant/flower with the knoweldge that students from our project would water the plants every other day. At one point,, we had more helpers than plants. Based on the unexpected amout of student interest, students were placed on a schedule. When we experiencd a few issues with wilting or dryness, helpers elected to research and gain knowledge about various ways to revive the plants. The project was a eye-opener for the ways the information skills learned in the library could be used to help our students gain independence while helping the school environment but the project based learning opportunities didn't end there.
Working with Ms. Adams and her students, we were able to complete a series of lessons from muralist, McKinley Wallace. The students were able to conduct interviews of their peers regaridng bullying. With their insights from the interviews and basic information related to art techniques, the students, the artist, and the classroom teacher member were able to work on a series of panels for murals that could be displayed in the library. Watching the students work together to create the art, as well as witnessing the amount of teamwork necessary for such a creation was wonderful. I truly enjoyed having th library soace used as a place for creating a piece of art that could be enjoyed by others.
I'll share Part Two of this post tomorrow.