Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Looking elsewhere

On the December "Start a new post," Anonymous wrote:

Look at what is happening at high schools elsewhere, that go beyond test preparation and offer things like video production (it's worth watching the creative and entertaining videos mentioned in this link):

December 23, 2009 12:02 AM


parent one said...

The lessons to be learned from the story of these videos is more about what we do not see in the news articles and reports. Even with the support from a sponsoring teacher how hard would a PPS student have to work to pull off getting permission from the school and district administration for a project of this magnitude?

Questioner said...

It would be almost impossible. While individual, well established programs (such as CAS) may emphasize creativity and originality, the district focus is more on standardization and following lesson plans. Time and resources would not be devoted to a project like this.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I could see this happening in PPS within the Film Classes as part of the I.B. School. There is a film being done now as a class project.

A tech club could do it too, if they exist. Washington High in Lil Washington had one with 4-H in the past and interesting things were done.

Perhaps the tech majors at Brashear, or CAPA's writers or Sci Tech's "executives" would be up to that some day?

Leadership is needed and the students can do some wild, interesting and valued projects, as this has shown.

Observer said...

The only places that students can do such "wild, interesting and valued projects," Mr.Rauterkus, are in CAS programs that do not follow the outrageously poor PPS curriculum or at a place like the IB school, where IBDP and IBMYP entail different curricular concerns that set them apart from PPS.
Perhaps you already know this.
I am in agreement that kids can create myriad items via their learning but sadly, this will NEVER be done in a comprehensive PPS high or middle school, as doing so would mean a teacher is straying from the curriculum, thereby placing a large bull's eye on his back and labeling himself as "ineffective."

Anonymous said...

There used to be program at Dice, of course it was CAS, and only a select few students were involved.

Lisa said...

Has the graduation project requirement been eliminated? This project could be a good fit for such a yearlong task. Kids who are interested in the subject could explore it in depth no matter what their level of ability.

tootie said...

The Graduation Project is still a requirement. I also believe CAS students must complete a long term project (LTP) every year in order to qualify for the seal on a diploma that comes with being a CAS student. In my limited observation of sutdents in several school districts what is most lacking is enthusiasm on the part of all but the most driven kids. Even kids with great ambition almost seem to be saving their talents to impress a more worthy audience at times. Would anyone agree kids often do a job just to be done with it? Could they be modeling the behavior they see from us?

Anonymous said...

I agree. With all of the demands on kids these days, who can blame them for saving the talents for the right audience? College applications require awe inspiring essays and lists of accolades and accomplishments as long as your arm. Graduation projects are presented to a small panel of teachers, and no one really pays attention.

Doing projects just for the fun of learning.....those days are long gone....if they ever existed, that is.

amymoore said...

To have a chance at a top-ranked competitive college, a student needs outstanding ECs. Last year's LTPs at Schenley included some pretty interesting projects: fundraising concerts, blood drive. If there are any ambitious juniors and seniors left in the PPS system, they should be using those grad projects and LTPs to build resumes for college admission.

Observer said...

The problem lies in the details. Do you want to teach kids how to think...or what to think? Do you want to give kids the opportunity to actually do something with what they have learned, or do you just want them to parrot what the curriculum asks? If you answered the latter, welcome to PPS.
I have to laugh to keep from crying. So many good ideas here, and unfortunately, it's all relegated to CAS and IB.
We have so many politically correct morons writing curriculum these days that they have forgotten that actual people sit in those chairs. How else can you explain the mindset that comes from the English department for instance, that seems to believe that continually asking students what the gist is in a piece of literature and how they can tell will equate with reading at a deeper level. These people believe that this continuous line of questioning--which amounts to the same 3 or 4 questions for each piece, all year long, will suddenly enable Jenny and Johnny to excel during PSSA's. Voila! Instant success.
It's a sad time in PPS, driven by some individuals without a clue.

Parent two said...

Observer, I agree with the problem with the reading curriculum -- and it extends down to elementary school as well. If there were more effective ways to kill the development of the love of reading, they haven't yet been discovered.

Unfortunately, at least at the middle school level, the math curriculum has the reverse problem -- too abstract and too few connections drawn for the students. They talk about what they notice and what they think might be happening, but only the kids who already have solid math basics and skills actually draw the connections.

There's certainly nothing wrong with developing thinking skills about math -- but until there is some solid content in the kids' brains they can't abstract it!

tootie said...

Yowza! Glad I stopped by this blog again to hear from OBSERVER, "politically correct morons", a classic line if I ever heard one. I swear to God, that just one teacher who finds the opportunity to deviate from teaching "gist" can do wonders. I am generally not the smartest parent in a room but often the most passionate. After 11th grade I said to my kid, "you know I believe until this year you never learned anything in Language Arts or Communications or English." The teacher made the difference that year.

amymoore, bop on over to and offer your services as a full-time counselor. Can you imagine what you could do undercover tied to the suggestion I read about counseling?

I don't know how or what to say to keep spirits high as the year draws to a close.

Mark Rauterkus said...

If you don't use it, you lose it.

There is a story of talents in The Bible, of all places. The talents get put to rest in the dirt in the backyard. That is exactly the wrong place for talents.

So, it was posted, ... "Who can blame them for saving the talents for the right audience?... "

Blame PING!

Happy New Year!

Questioner said...

A CAS or end of the year project would not begin to approach the scope of these videos. CAS projects are to involve about 30 hours of work and must fit into a particular rubric. Advisors spend maybe a couple of hours ensuring that students stay on track. The video productions mentioned involve a huge commitment of advisor time, energy and expertise, plus all or most of the school and student body would need to be involved to some degree.