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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Blog Post One

If You Built A School, What Would It Be Like?

Krissy Vendosdale and Sugata Mitra’s ideas have taken the outdated ideas of learning and sculpted them based on the question, “how are we preparing children for the future?” In the standard school system, students are taught identically. They are put on a standardized pedestal of curriculum expectations. Vendosdale and Mitra take the uniformed pedestal, and throw it out the window. Vendosdale, a Gifted Education teacher in Houston, Texas, promotes project based learning with technology to facilitate creativity and children’s strengths. I love her blog post “Our Kids Will Change the World.” She relates the persistence and courage of a small mosquito to us, educators, making a difference. The mosquito is small, but makes a difference. As educators, that is the position we should strive for. We should want to be that difference for a child and help the kids believe in themselves to be the difference. Mitra, on the other hand, pulls away from the ideas of having educators facilitating students and pushes towards independent learning. As an educational researcher, he experiments with children in countries that have no technology and leaves a “hole in the wall” computer for two months to see what the children are capable of learning themselves. These children do not know English nor have they ever seen a computer. To anyone’s surprise, the children learned the English, used the computer, and understood what it does. The children taught each other, thus promoting his idea of “School in the Cloud”, a learning environment where the children are using self-organized learning. Both of these people are incredible educational influences.

Imaging my classroom after viewing the Vendosdale idea of imagination and Mitra idea of self-organized learning, I would add both ideas into my teaching. I would love to teach second grade and have explosions of creativity and group interaction in my classroom, as well as having the students be the architects of their education. I want to take systematic curriculum and turn it into paint. I want the children to be the artists, take their paintbrushes, and paint what they are learning into individualistic, imaginative works of art.

What I Want My Students to Know

I want my students to know all of the concepts promoted over the year, and apply it to all real life settings. I want them to know that being curious and asking questions is how you learn and want to know for yourself. I want them to believe in themselves and all of their capabilities by knowing that each one of them is different, and that is a glorious thing! I also want them to know that we can make any subject interesting by pretending to be researchers. I want to change the idea of just lecturing students into an entertaining game they can interact in.

What I Want My Students to Be Able to Do

Generally, I want them to go beyond learning the subjects. I want my students to be able to work together in groups, and teach each other. As Mitra, I would like my students to be the facilitators of their learning. They should be able excel beyond a curriculum, and take on the roles of researchers in order to continue interest in commonly “boring” subjects.

What is My Primary Way of Teaching My Students What I Want Them to Know and Do

I believe in kinesthetic learning and hands-on activities. I would love to incorporate those ideas with embedded creativity through art or technology. I would teach them to explore the subjects by asking them a general question that can get them curious to answer it. Any “who, what, when, where, why” question could instantly spark a pupil into interest. For example, I could give them a person in history and ask them who is this person, what did they do, why they did it, etc. A primary focus in my teaching would be collaboration and interaction among the students so they can go beyond just learning subjects. In addition, having the children use the interaction among their peers to see their own strengths as well as other’s strengths.

What Tools I Will Use in My Classroom

Along with the 21st century technology, I plan to use art as one of the key tools in my classroom. Arts in the classroom make ways for children to express their creativity while learning. The children are able to communicate more than verbally by expressing themselves through the art, thus boosting their confidence and self-esteem. It makes teaching easier for both the students and the teachers, because arts are interesting for everyone. The arts are created in so many forms so that they can appeal to each individual student in some way. The arts motivate and raise achievement because the arts give “hands on” approach to any activity or subject. Many children learn better under these types of “hands on” activities.

What Role Will My Students Play in the Classroom, i.e. How Will They Participate in the Learning Process

As I said before, I want the children to be the facilitators of their own learning by being the artists and using the resources I give them as their brush in order to create a wonderful piece of art. Instead of me showing them what to do, they will show me what they have learned. They will no longer play the role of the brainwashed student. They will be truly active in all aspects of learning. They will be the researchers, the historians, the politicians, the mathematicians, and all other roles in my classroom.



  1. "...and sculpted them based on the question..." Why did you use the word sculpted? I don't think it fits here.

    "...a standardized pedestal of curriculum expectations"? Standardized pedestal? Why did you select these words to use? A "pedestal of curriculum expectations"? Usually plain English works better that an attempt to be "cool" or "hip" or "fancy" or whatever you were trying to do with your wording. And now we have a "uniformed pedestal". What kind of uniform is the pedestal wearing?

    "...relates the persistence and courage of a small mosquito to us... educators, making a difference. The mosquito is small, but makes a difference." What a metaphor! I would you would want a teacher to be a positive figure. I have never thought of mosquitos in that way. I try to kill them before they bite me!

    Thoughtful. Interesting. Don't try to be fancy with your writing. Plain English works very well!

  2. Thank you for your insight. I used the world sculpted, because Vendosdale and Mitra, to me, have shaped the outdated ideas of learning and turned them into something else. Thinking more about what you said, I could have changed the word to shaped or transformed. As for the "standardized pedestal of curriculum expectations," I could have reworded this into something much more simpler. I was trying to describe how students today are based on a common standard based by a curriculum. In particular, I was thinking about standardized tests, like the ACT, and how students are required to take the test according to curriculum, although all students are different. I will make sure to use less metaphors in my future posts. Thank you!

  3. Kayla,
    Love your post!! I very much agree with the arts in the classroom. Children can express there selves in many different ways through art. My son loves anything to do with art and experiments.