Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Visit to Nido de Aguilas in Santiago, Chile

Just returned from a week in Santiago, Chile where I, along with fellow Exeter teachers Chris Matlack and Jane Cadwell, worked with teachers on teaching around a Harkness table. Nido de Aguilas is a very successful, high-powered International school located in the Lo Barnochea region of Santiago. Besides being able to earn Chilean National diplomas and American secondary school diplomas, students can obtain the International Baccalaureate diploma.

On Thursday morning, Jane held a class for 14 history and mathematics teachers who read and analyzed a poem while Chris and I charted the discussion. In the afternoon, I led a class for English and science teachers on fair division while Jane and Chris charted the discussion. At the conclusion of each class we took time to discuss what the teachers had just experienced, how it might work in their classrooms, and what were the pluses and minuses.

Nido biology students discuss DNA
On Friday, we each worked with teachers in our disciplines; Jane with English and Humanities, Chris with science, and I with mathematics. I also made a short presentation to their technology committee on the iPad experiment we are doing here at Exeter. On Monday, we visited the school to see classes in action. This was the first day back from the two-month-long summer break…southern hemisphere, people.

For me, the “Harkness method” of teaching means having classrooms where the learning is student centered. Traditionally, classrooms consisted of rows of kids; their heads empty vessels, waiting to be filled with information delivered by the expert, the “sage on the stage,” the teacher. Students need to be more involved, participate more in their learning. The Socratic style of question and answer, with questions coming from the teacher and answers coming back to the teacher is better but, true student-centered learning requires the teacher to take a back seat and encourages discussion between members of the class with the teacher serving as a guide. Much about the Harkness table, the Harkness method, and how it all came about can be found at the Exeter website.
Nido mathematics class 

So, student-centered learning is the big idea but each school is different and “Harkness” classes have to be done on their terms. It’s not likely that other schools will have the luxury of having 12 students around a beautiful piece of furniture in every classroom on campus as we do at Exeter. Nevertheless, student-centered learning can happen, and is happening at Nido. It takes teachers who are confident in their discipline, comfortable with not being the expert in the front of the room, and supportive administrators who encourage teachers to try new strategies. Nido has all this in spades.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Grading The Digital School

Pretty good article in the New York Times read it, click here.

“This is not about the technology, it’s not about the box. It’s about changing the culture of instruction — preparing students for their future, not our past.” Mark Edwards, superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District in Mooresville, NC.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Three Videos by Exeter Music Faculty

I recently reminded the faculty at Exeter of the link to this blog. In response, Jon Sakata, a music teacher at Exeter, sent me three links to videos that he and his wife, Jung Mi Lee, produced using only the iPhone camera and iMovie. Very cool. The first video includes music by the avant-garde American composer, Robert Cogan. Videos two and three use original compositions of Jon and Jung Mi, one for nine double basses and the other for multilingual voices and percussion. Enjoy.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3