Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The AltSchool: Progressivism Redux (Part 3) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

The AltSchool: Progressivism Redux (Part 3) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

The AltSchool: Progressivism Redux (Part 3)

SOMA plaque.jpg

Located in the South-of-Market district (SOMA) of San Francisco this micro-school of 33 middle schoolers is a few blocks away from Yerba Buena (see Part 2). I spent a morning there speaking with the Head of School, Emily Dahm (who also is in charge of Yerba Buena), observing two lessons taught by “core educators” James Earle (social studies/English) and Eman Haggag (science), and interviewing Katie Berk, a product manager, from the technical side of the “micro-school.”
Facing busy Folsom Street, AltSchool space is divided into four large carpeted rooms two of which were used that morning for lessons (no class I observed was larger than 15). The other two spaces include a room with desktop computers and commons area for the entire school to meet. Software engineers and staff (coders, designers, and product managers) were located in a large space in the back of the building adjacent to the classrooms and commons area.
Each classroom space has wall-mounted cameras and microphones hanging from the ceiling–called Altvideo–that produce data for teachers to view later privately about the lesson they taught.  The technical staff has produced an app that teachers can use to find the precise part of the lesson they want to see. This self-evaluation occurs during the school day and other times.
On November 7, 2016 I arrived at 8:00 AM and interviewed the Head of School and both core educators. School began at 9:00 with a “morning meeting.” There were 21 twelve to fourteen year-olds sitting in a circle with Eman Haggag counting down from 10 to 0 to secure quiet for the “morning meeting” to begin. On a whiteboard are listed announcements:
Good Morning,
How are you? I am quite marvelous. Cupa’ tea?
Few things:
–Feynman bring phones to class powered off (students are in different groups–(the internationally known physicist Richard Feynman)–is name of one group of students)
Field trip Wednesday–Altschool shirts + pencil + paper
–Ceramics class 11/17, 11/18/,11/22
Students ask logistics questions about upcoming field trip, teachers answer their questions.These morning meetings are to inform students of daily activities and The AltSchool: Progressivism Redux (Part 3) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:


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