Last week, I experienced a morning of contradictions.

I was asked to present at an Apple iPad event that happened to be hosted by our school district. I presented about the work I’m doing with digital content.

The audience included all the administration folks I’ve been (unsuccessfully) talking to about allowing personal devices, integrating technology into the classroom, and strengthening 21st century skills.

The opening talk illustrated my contradiction. The Apple education rep gave a motivating presentation about exactly why devices should be part of the classroom. She focused on the learning, not on any devices.

She talked about the reasons for needing change. The learning style of millennials: immediate, random, social, collaborative, experiential, exploratory. She talked about gamification, and how it impacts education with its reward – not punishment – of failure. How do we learn games? By failing. We try again, and again.

She referenced the eSchoolNews from Sept 2011, about what kids want from school:
5. To work with interactive tech
4. Their teachers to be mentors
3. Learning to be interesting
2. To have choice
1. To do real and relevant work

I was so very happy to have all these administrators at the session. Hopefully, hearing this from “legit” people – not someone who is just a parent – will help. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Independent Study?

As I struggle with what I see happening in education through my work as compared to what I see happening in my daughter’s classes, I have to come to some place of peace. It isn’t easy to hear about kids doing video lab reports, and then seeing my daughter’s fill in the blank worksheets.

She’s frustrated too, although for a different reason. She is not the kid they built traditional schools for. She thinks and communicates in pictures, not words. She sees all the letters, days of the week, and months in color. To her, numbers have spatial relativity. While I don’t know if her synesthesia has any impact on how she learns, I can’t imagine it helps in a world based on print and linear thinking.

We came up with an action plan that feels right to both of us, at least for one class.

She is taking French 2 right now. Tests and based on minute concepts in grammar. Points are taken off for spelling or accent errors. Vocabulary is a game of rapid memorization. These are not her strength. Yet, we know she can learn new language quickly and easily, as she has done repeatedly. She frequently sings in other languages, usually its Latin, French, German or Italian.

We have decided that she’ll do the 2nd trimester (at her school 2 tris of a class equal a full year) of French as independent study. I was a licensed French teacher, and can easily help and direct her. We have already identified community and online resources that can help her learn. We have project ideas that are engaging, use new language concepts, reinforce vocabulary and grammar, as well as use all four language components: speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Now, the challenge will be to get cooperation from the school. Fortunately, there is a law in our state that allows partial homeschool based n curriculum review. Allowing independent study means the district keeps all her money. If they don’t allow that, then we’ll go the partial homeschool route – which they cannot deny – and they lose state payment for that course.

Will keep you posted.