Monday, September 2, 2013

What procedures can help a school make "time more flexible" for the students? What rules can help students become more independent?

What are the procedures that promote independence in students?

That is the theme of this blog:  Let's capture the "teacher talk" and the exercises that any teacher can use to make the classroom more open for students.

I have posted several items in my classroom to promote autonomy, mastery and purpose.

These are themes from Dan Pink's book, Drive.  

A core procedure is the "Fedex Day" where students are allowed to study whatever they want to study as long as they deliver something within 24 or 48 hours.   The project does not have to be completed.  However, there has to be something visible.


Here's another procedure:  The Virtual Mentor.

As a reward to students who have completed a set of worksheets, 

I'm a teacher in Miami.  I have a procedure called "The Virtual Mentor."  I look for adults who love learning, who appear to love life and who appear to embrace challenges.   I ask those adults to visit my class "virtually" and to tell students something about their approach to problems, how they look for infomration and to tell us what magazines they read.   I ask for your best method of contact (email or mobile phone text) and then I find two students who are given the task of writing a question no more than once a month ...  it is a five-minute contribution of your time.   You reply to the question and then you hear nothing more from the students for another 30 days.   If you want more contact, then you can initiate the contact.   All contact is done through me, where you reply to the question that I've sent.

I look forward to having you contact me at ... send me your reply to the following questions....

Here are some general questions

1. What quotations inspire you?

2. What books do you like (and why)?

3. What do you recommend for students to study?

4. What do you remember from school that was useful?

5. What magazines do you read at least once a year?

6. Can you recommend an article that you found interesting?

7. How did you get your current job?

If you would like to become a Virtual Mentor, please write to and answer the questions in GREEN above.

Let's start with parental concerns:

a)  are you letting my daughter write to a complete stranger?  Are you out of your mind?
ANSWER:  The stranger has been vetted by the teacher.
The stranger writes a reply to me, the teacher, and I strip the contact information from the email.  Then the daughter can write a reply.

b)  What is the purpose of this activity?   This is a math class.   
ANSWER:  the mind often needs a "vacation."   The class is 100 minutes and I want students to practice being adults.  They can work on the tasks in any order and they can write a letter at some point in the 100-minute class.

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