Every second Friday of each month, the team has a half-day that they can structure to inform, engage and interest students in aspects of Act 77. Member Nikole Garand talked about the School Architect activity their team recently facilitated that encompassed both the academic and physical aspects of the school. The first step involved just the middle school students. The team began by taping easel sheets to the wall depicting each area in the school. As groups of students went around to all the areas, the team asked the question, “If you could redesign the physical appearance of our school, or remodel it, what would you want in . . .” areas like the cafeteria, the gym, the classrooms, the hallway. They received a lot of good feedback that was written on the sheets expressing how the students felt about the physical spaces. The activity demonstrated to the students what they could do about their school—that they have a voice.
For the next step, the team incorporated the products from their “I Dream of a School Where . . .” Instagram campaign and created a Gallery Walk in the gym with both the physical space and the classroom environment represented. All 6th-12th graders were invited to walk around and post comments on sticky notes on any of the things that stood out to them. The team analyzed the data they collected. “It’s in the works to start changing,” said Nikole. “One of the points was more flexibility—more time to work independently instead of just lectures in classrooms. Teachers have started to do that more now that the students have requested it. The redesign was for both the school’s appearance and the structure of the class time.”
During an upcoming half-day, the team will facilitate a Wagon Wheels activity using the four R’s of Rigor, Relevance, Responsibility and Relationship that are based in the brain research. The team will bring back their products from the Wagon Wheels in March and have that as a stepping stone to the next activity.
Sue Trecartin, UP for Learning, 1/27/16