Monday, December 10, 2012

Excellence in education

I recently was able to attend a conference at the University of Washington called Excellence in K-12 Education: Lessons from Finland and Washington. It was a most inspirational and informative day, filled with a variety of stimulating speakers, but I was particularly intrigued by Vivien Stewart, Vice President of the Asia Society and author of A World Class Education, who discussed the common features of school systems around the world who consistently produce exceptional students. These systems exist all over the globe and vary considerably in some ways - after all, they are all products of the cultures they inhabit. Yet they all have a few commonalities, a significant one being the professionalism of their teachers.

In these highly successful school systems, teachers are given ample time and support both to pursue professional development off campus and to observe and collaborate with one another - to learn from the expertise already available on campus. This is something we do at OWS for which I am most grateful! In addition to being able to regularly attend conferences and training that help us remain current in our fields, we also engage in observations of our colleagues. Last week I saw a wonderful 4th grade lesson taught by our Drama Specialist, Ms. Edwards, in which students creatively re-enacted poems, complete with props.

Today I watched a 5th grade Humanities lesson by Ms. Russell about transmogrification in which students took familiar nursery rhymes and cleverly rephrased them, injecting them with vocabulary that had more pizzazz. They practiced creative writing for sure - but also respectful listening, public speaking and the offering of constructive feedback as they took turns volunteering to share their work.

Here is just one example produced by a young man without the aid of dictionary or thesaurus. See if you can guess which classic nursery rhyme he transmogrified! (Click on the link to see if you were right!)

Females and males, come out to perform recreational activities / The lunar cosmic debris pulled together by gravity orbiting the earth is reflecting sunlight of many lumens / Abandon your potential energy in the form of calories served in the evening / Abandon your state of mind in which your consciousness is dormant while your unconscious organizes information / And come with your peers into the pathway on which automobiles roam.

Don't you love it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So cool!!!