Friday, January 18, 2013

I'm off on a sabbatical

To Boldly Go...

I'm off on a semester long (and into the Summer) sabbatical to explore educational innovation and 'student centered thinking' around the globe.


I'll look to chat with visionary leaders at these schools and explore their visions of school climate and culture... the future of what 'school' can be. 

This adventure will take me to 7 countries... France, Germany, Austria, Italy, New Zealand, Canada and throughout the United States.

Some of the schools...

Boston Arts Academy, MA
Urban Academy, NY
iSchool, NY
Calhoun School, NY
Science Leadership Academy, PA
Olin College of Engineering, MA
MIT Media Lab, MA
Harvard TIE program, MA
High Tech High, CA
High School for Recording Arts, MN
University of Tennessee, TN
University of Oregon, OR
University of Regina, Canada

Reggio Emilia Institute and community in Italy, two high schools in Vancouver Canada, Universities and high schools in Auckland NZ and Germany, a new school in Vienna Austria... France and Switzerland...

There's a long list of people I hope to chat with as well. More on that later!

The work in the semester sabbatical will certainly run over... perhaps for a lifetime.

What are the best practices out there? How are the folks in these places redefining 'school?' What are these innovative places in education doing now and where are they headed? Refitting our concepts of what education could be... is going to be a fun place explore in this fashion.

I've got a head start... the data from 21 Tech Research classes over seven and a half years where we've looked at how we could refit education based on student needs. I've read boatloads on the subject, and have countless interactions with folks from other conferences and chats to build upon and draw from too.

My thanks to Burr and Burton Academy and to the visionary thinking and support of Barry and Wendy Rowland for making this possible.

I'll be blogging for Edutopia and here on this blog as the trip unfolds. My hope is to stir up many conversations online and in person before, during, and after.

It'll be a wild ride... and I'm looking forward to the journey and all the collaboration.

Step out your door...

Keep moving forward...


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Student for a Day Project Thoughts (and full video)

BBA Student for a Day Project from Adam Provost on Vimeo.

In the Tech Research class I taught at Burr and Burton Academy we took on a large project each semester / year called 'Education Revisited.' The simple question... How is technology changing 'school?'

There were many layers to such a project. One of them is 'the school schedule.'

As the conversation on 'school schedule' evolved, a student asked 'wouldn't it be great if teachers could see this from our perspective?' After some spirited discussion I asked simply, "ok, how do we do that."

The idea took off to have teachers become 'a student for a day.' We drafted it up, proposed it, and the school eventually adopted a modified version or our proposal.

Students planned it all: Proposals, invitations, participant schedules - and asked potential teachers who's classes they'd sit in if they'd participate. They gathered materials (books, books, and more books), drafted interview questions (that were non-biased), built shooting schedules (pre, runtime and post interviews), and offered feedback on the video editing. One student, James Abrams, was the primary editor of the film.

The full video is at the top of this post... (just over 11 minutes), was presented through the words of the participants answering some simple questions.

The project stirred up a ton of discussions internally at the school, and as it turned out nationally and internationally. I've lost track of how many times it's been highlighted in other publications. We've also passed the production notes on to over 100 schools who were interested in running their own versions of the project.

Promoting student voice and inquiry into 'the educational process,' is essential. It's also great PD for adults as it turned out, too. Go figure ; )

Is this the best schedule we could have? Most often... no.

Is it the best for students? Adults? Families? Most often... no.

In all my travels about the world, I've heard many people say changing a school schedule can be, well, let's just say 'incredibly difficult.'

It really doesn't need to be that complicated.

Small adjustments can lead to very positive changes for students, teachers, administrators, and families.

My personal ideas on getting things moving... you have to start somewhere.
Just remember, 'status quo' never led to much progress… or innovation.


If you're interested in hearing more about this great project, just send me a note!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Study proves classroom design really does matter

We don't usually flock to places with bright fluorescent lights, uncomfortable furniture, and deprive ourselves of food and water... to do our best work.


; )

Some paint, intelligent furniture decisions, and some 
indirect lighting can go a long way.

Getting students involved in the design process, even better.