Saturday, July 27, 2013

Here's a procedure: Ask former students to make suggestions (adapted from Big Picture Schools)

The Big Picture:  education is everyone's business,
the 2004 book by Dennis Littky, points out that one of the best sources of teacher training is a postcard sent to former students.  "What worked, what do you wish you had been introduced to or thought about before you left high school?  What should we teachers know about?"

Here's the letter that I sent to some former students.

Hello ISP program students from January 2012

I want to let you know about "what happened to the posters that the ISP students made."  I kept some of the posters.

Other posters found life in books.  I'm showing your work to my new students at Miami Arts Charter

(A) PENPALS  ... I want my students in Miami to have penpals with people who speak more than one language, so I thought about you.

(B)  Thought for the day:   I'm planning to have a channel for the "thought of the day" and other items that will combine "mathforartists"  -- I invite you to visit the channel and the blog and the websites.   Thank you for your time.

As individuals, you remain in my mind as distinctive forces -- your questions and creations pushed me to develop better procedures.   I think you remember that I was trying to create a positive environment for you inside a box.   
CHECKLIST (what are good principles in a classroom?)
a)  let the students make decisions
b)  give them time to complete something that they started.
c)  find a comfortable place to work.
d)  give them work that means something to them.   Ask them to create personal goals and let them work on those goals.
e)  ask students to write about something that they like.

I hope you have found teachers who use these same ideas.   Please write to me with any suggestions about how to improve my classroom procedures.

Do you remember some of the events that you did?   
a)  the old poet who came to the school and EVERYONE was told to go to the gym to listen to the old man?   I thought that some of you might have been bored.   Perhaps I should have exempted you from that activity?
b)  the start of the day?  In that little room with no windows?   
c)  the space on the soccer field where your group sat after lunch?   The school administrators were so worried that you needed to go to "do something productive" and many days we spent an extra 20 or 30 minutes sitting on the grass.   I liked watching you out there.   Sometimes many teachers try to push too much on the teenager's brain.

I look forward to your input and I hope you will write to me with suggestions and comments.
If you want to receive questions from my students at MAC  (Miami Arts Charter), please let me know.   I can ask my students to contact you by email or by facebook -- please tell me your preferred method.

By the way, have you seen the video by Benjamin (with the translation into Hungarian)?



Do you see the power of this procedure used at Big Picture schools?  The teachers benefit from the students who send tips about "I never used matrices" and "I wish someone had told me about Daniel Amen's suggestions about how to manage information overload."
The photos that appear here are from the wonderful class that I was given to "manage."   I think they managed to organize how I behaved....
This is a random piece that I posted on the Edutopia facebook page to indicate the power of lecturing less
Since using the FLIPPED CLASSROOM, I no longer have a "teacher voice."   Now I randomly and unintentionally whisper to people "...and for class tomorrow, please come in ready to talk about this topic."  

Steve McCrea

More photos from the January 2012 learning experience.

The profiles are Bal____  KN_____  Prin_____  Ope_____
Ref_____  Car____  Comm____  Ris____  Inq____ Thi_____

Send comments to

The profiles are Bal____  Balanced
KN_____  Knowledgeable
Prin_____  Principled
Ope_____Open Minded
Ref_____  Reflective
Car____  Caring
Comm____   Communicator
Ris____  Risk Taker
Inq____ Inquirer
Thi_____ Thinker

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