One goal is to provide a How-to Workbook with insights from this pilot project so ALL schools will be able to transform their classrooms! Consider donating to that effort, even if it's just a few dollars.
Some ways to combat 5th grade classroom boredom:
The kids need to be heard (yet the room itself promotes noisiness); we’re provided inexpensive wireless microphones. The kids love this organizing tool which is, after all, a talking stick! And all the kids want to be microphone monitors, which helps organize the use of the mics and limits what the teacher needs to do.
The kids need visual calm (yet the room is too bright, distracting and crowded); We've taken away the clutter. We created a giant black back board to showcase student work on. This enhances, instead of detracts from, learning. The NYC Department of Education (DoE) painted the room a color the students helped select, a very soothing light blue.
The kids need to move (yet they slouch, stuck in rigid chairs); we’re changing the seating and overall use of space. We're prototyping movable, modular furniture to see if that allows students to work better in groups, to pair up and help teach each other learn.
The kids need to be able to gather in a circle (yet there’s no space); we’re creating an imaginative gathering space based on ideas created by the teams (including the kids) in the charrette.
And, BTW, we’ve formed a Kids’ Council in the classroom to give each student who chooses to have one, a role in their class and for which they are then elected by the whole class. This will help put the responsibility for learning where it belongs – on the students themselves!
Want more? Just search for key words - Kids' Council or room 220 - and you'll see all glob entries on the stuff.