I often think that the most useful way to change things in education is to work on their parts, change the policy and put it back together. I started working on testing, went to assessment, performance assessment, professional development, state policy, federal law and most recently in arts integration. But I also want to share the dream of all of these parts coming together…what would they look like?
Children would arrive in school and play. Play is the most natural thing for them to do. While they are playing, a series of diagnostics would be performed to let the professionals know what these students do well, where they need help and what they really like to do. Play would then be more guided, and student learning incorporated, and play would become more serious.
Engagement would be the watchword of schools, where students are more and more engaged every time they come to school. Interesting problems would be posed, fascinating situations would be described and eye-catching environments would be used to support student inquiry.
The student-centered projects would propel student demonstrations of understanding. Real projects, tangible work orders, hands-on types of learning would be offered. Students would be asked to pre-think their assignments and document this on their Ipads. Direct teacher instruction would help direct student investigation. Homework would involve going home to watch experts on U-Tube, gathering several expert opinions about the topic, and arriving back in school to work in groups to finish group projects. Learning outcomes would include meeting several sets of standards, or exceeding those standards. Final presentations would include documenting the work, revealing what was learned, and what is still unknown. Students could present at different times so that others could learn and use their strategies to complete their own work. All finals, in all formats would be posted and available to all students, parents and teachers.
Art would have no special place because it would be everywhere. All of the disciplines would be used to help with, to integrate, and to support a variety of ways of communicating about what was being learned. And parents and other teachers would drift in and drift our of all classrooms.