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5 Brave Things

My friend and colleague Todd Williamson tagged my in his post listing 5 things I might do if I were brave. He had some great ideas at his blog, The Technorate Teacher, and it really got me thinking. What would I do if I were brave?

1. I would push for an all inclusive field trip form. At the start of the year, I’d ask parents and administration for permission to take my students wherever I wanted them them to go, whenever I wanted to take them. While we, as teachers, try to plan experiences for our students to learn and grow, I think some of the greatest learning is spontaneous.

2. My beginning of school supply list would change. I would require my 4th grade students to have a USB drive and their own headset-mic for the first day of school. Students with laptops could bring them to school (even though I couldn’t hook them into the internet) for mantaining spaces for their own learning. They could bring cellphones to school and keep them on their desks for impromtu assessing and sharing.

3. One of my daily jobs would be “virtual note-taker.” Who needs a door holder or line leader? What educational purpose do these positions serve? Instead, one student would be assigned to a class Twitter account and another would be assigned to note-taking on the class wiki for the day. These students would make key academic notes and observations for students who need a review or for those students who are absent. They could even be following along at home! Talk about some real responsibility for students…

4. Service learning would be a requirement for passing my class. This is the first year that I have embarked on my first big community service learning project with my students. It was the most amazing experience and one that I value most about my entire school year. If I were truly brave, I would require my students to have at least 10 hours of community service and service learning per school year. Only five of those hours could come directly from classroom activities. They and their parents would be required to seek out opportunities to learn and serve.

5. I wouldn’t give THE test. I am adamantly opposed to everything that THE test stands for, but I give it every year. I believe that the reading test is actually a test of will and stamina. I think the math test is a great test of reading comprehension skills with inference, reading for a purpose, analyzing text for details, and understanding graphic representations. I’ve seen kids (and other teachers) break down over these tests. I’ve seen schools torn apart by them and communities at war about them. But, still, I give the test. If I were truly brave, I’d leave the books and bubble sheets shrink wrapped, throw away the “Sshh. We’re testing!” sign, and take my students on a field trip.

I wonder how brave I really can be. What would you do if you were brave?


10 Responses

  1. 8 hours of service learning are already required in my classroom 🙂 So far this year we’re sitting at around 940 hours, about 60 shy of my goal and the past two years. It’s been an amazing run so far. I’m looking to extend the “learning” part of it in the future. So it is possible, though at the elementary level I’d think there would have to be even more parent buy-in.

    The class note-taker idea is a good one as well. I’ve done that a few times this year, but want to start of the year doing it next year. Now that we have our classroom netbook it’s much more possible.

    Great list!

  2. Loved your list of brave things. Service learning has always been required at our high school level. That is a fantastic goal; one that I will contemplate. Wouldn’t it be lovely to forego THE test???

    I have be lax in writing on my blog. (Almost 2 months!) I now have my inspiration!


  3. […] take my hat of to Todd Williamson and Kelly Hines.  They each have taken the time to list on their blogs the five things they would do if they were […]

  4. […] she tweeted her reorganization of her Diigo bookmarks. And I challenge all of you to write your Five Brave Things.  Thanks, Kelly, for your continued […]

  5. I’d immediately trash all the standardized curricula our district has adopted. My school is within walking distance of the Blackstone River. Samuel Slater built the first mill in the US on this river, opening the door to the industrial revolution here in America. Our entire curriculum could be developed around this amazing resource that kids can experience first hand. There’s a glass bottom boat that provides tours, expert scientists and environmentalists in the area, old mills and a museum at Slater Mill, and even a Blackstone River Theater company that could assist with our successful arts program. Why is it that only charter schools seem to take such bold initiative?

  6. The virtual note-taker idea is AWESOME. One year. I had a TA blog everything we did in class, for use by absentees – that was long before Twitter, though. I am already pushing the cell phone edge and will no doubt be in trouble sometime.

  7. […] Nael El Shawwa – My thoughts on technology and web applications placed an observative post today on 5 Brave ThingsHere’s a quick excerptI’ve seen schools torn apart by them and communities at war about them. But, still, I give the test. If I were truly brave, I’d leave the… […]

  8. I just wanted to let you know how much I like these ideas. I regularly follow your blog, but these are particularly compelling because I’m pretty sure they’d fix many of the problems in our current educational system. Teachers really do know how to teach- and we should let them do it!

    In addition to service learning- I think integrated learning and self chosen projects absolutely key. To some degree, I think students should have full independence within the classroom.

  9. Bravo Todd and Kelly. I concur with all 5 of your Brave things to do. Until this year we had the all inclusive field trip form, but with a couple of new middle management staff that are detail orientated we have regressed to having 3 or 4 forms (and I suspect there are more to come).

    The scope and depth of your ideas are outstanding, from community service through to non participation in the standardized test.

    For the last 2 years I have implemented and ran an Alternative Education Program for disengaged youth (boys). I have pushed all boundaries, and have found line management progressively shift from full support to reserved capitulation. It won’t last too much longer. We have changed the focus for these boys from academia (which they reject wholeheartedly) to building relationships and connecting.

    Be brave!

  10. I think the all inclusive blanket permission slip is very BRAVE. You’d probably get some push back on that one. I had some great teachers in my life that i wish would have taken me more places because I’m sure they had much they could have taught me outside of the classroom. Also thanks for being so brave and signing up for the #NECC09 Tweet-Up see you there!

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