Slate Wants to Know – How Would You Modernize America’s Schoolrooms?

From the article (emphasis mine)

Very little about the American classroom has changed since Laura Ingalls sat in one more than a century ago. In her school, children sat in a rectangular room at rows of desks, a teacher up front. At most American schools, they still do.

Slate wants to change that, and we need your help. Today Slate launches a crowdsourcing project on the 21st-century classroom. In this “Hive,” we’re seeking to collect your best ideas for transforming the American school. We’re asking you to describe or even design the classroom for today, a fifth-grade classroom that takes advantage of all that we have learned since Laura Ingalls’ day about teaching, learning, and technology–and what you think we have yet to learn. We will publish all your ideas onSlate; your fellow readers will vote and comment on their favorites; expert judges will select the ideas they like best, and, in about a month, we will pick a winner. That top design may be built as a model classroom in a new charter school. We know from our previous Hive projects that Slate’s millions of readers—some of you architects or educators or designers, most of you amateurs—have amazing ideas, and we’re confident that you’ll come up with exciting new ways to reconceive the most important space for American children. Speaking of children: We encourage you to have them enter ideas too. See the bottom of the article for more details about how to submit your proposal. “

You can submit your ideas up until October 29th.

Your entries can be shovel-ready or fanciful. All entries must have a written description, and we strongly encourage submitting a sketch or a plan, so fellow readers can help visualize your ideas. Your proposal can emphasize the shape of the room, the furniture in it, the technology available, the materials—whatever you believe will make a real difference for students. You may submit actual designs you have proposed to school boards. (You may even submit an already built classroom you designed, though you must indicate in your submission that it has been built, so voters and judges can take that into account.) We ask that you send us the design for one room only, though that room may represent a comprehensive rethinking of school, which we encourage you to explain. You don’t have to consider budget; you should, however, consider how you think students should be taught and motivated. Effective school design, after all, “isn’t about making pretty,” says Ronald Bogle, the president of the American Architectural Foundation, although pretty is welcome. “It’s about the space performing very particular functions.”

Don’t have an idea? That’s ok, head over and vote on the ideas submitted by others.

You can vote and comment on the ideas below. In early November, our expert judges and readers will choose a dozen finalists, and we’ll select a winner in mid-November. Read our terms and conditions, then please enter your great idea below.

Take the Plunge Integrate Social Media Into the Classroom

Thinking of using social media to aid with teaching and learning? But not sure where to start?  There is a great post over at Mashable with 4 Tips for Integrating Social Media Into the Classroom

1. Let Down the Filters, Cautiously

52% of schools said they prohibit any use of social networking sites on campus. Some districts are working toward making those sites more accessible to students, but they need an educational justification to do so while ensuring usage won’t be abused.

2. Add “Digital Citizenship” to the Curriculum

Susan Brooks Young, a former educator who is now a technology consultant for schools, likens children’s social media usage to driving; neither activities are going away. “We really guide them through the process of driving to make it as safe as we can. Social media in a lot of ways parallels that. You would never just give that child a set of car keys.”

3. Keep One Eye on Student Conduct, the Other on the Law

Many states have laws giving schools authority over off-campus conduct if it disrupts in-school instruction. Francine Ward, a California-based lawyer specializing in social media issues, expects the number of cases involving social media use and schools to climb in the next few years. The best way to get ahead of this is to amend every school’s “Code of Conduct” to include online activity, if only to have a policy in place when something does erupt. Adding social media policy to student handbooks sends a message that schools take online usage seriously.

4. Teach With Social Media

A 2009 survey commissioned by PBS shows digital and social media use by teachers is on the rise, but social media usage in classes lags behind other types of media. While 76% of American K-12 teachers say they use digital media in class, only 29% say they use a social networking site or social media community for instruction.

Read more:

Creative Commons licensed photo used courtesy of My Silent Side

Evernote for Every Literacy

Read Buffy Hamilton’s fulll post on supporting transliteracy with Evernote

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