I am doing my service learning at it is a different type of school for several reasons.
The school is based on the Montessori philosophy. It is a K-8 grade school. According to their website one of their core values is the three stages of the process of learning: “There are three stages of learning: (stage 1) introduction to a concept by means of a lecture, lesson, something read in a book. Etc. (stage 2) processing the information, developing an understanding of the concept through work, experimentation, creation. (stage 3) ‘knowing’, to possessing an understanding of, demonstrated by the ability to pass a test with confidence, to teach another, or express with ease.”
I have seen this process at work in Dave’s class. When Dave starts a lesson or a new chapter in their textbook he will introduce a new topic or chapter by giving a short five to ten minute lecture or introduction to the chapter covering the main points. However, it is more of the introduction then a lecture. Next, he normally breaks up the class into small groups of two to five students. The students work on processing the information by working on worksheets that go along with the reading in the textbook or another activity worksheet such as finding names and places of famous landmarks in Minnesota and writing down the map coordinates on their worksheet. Finally, Dave ensures that they possess the knowledge that they have worked on in class by testing them on the chapter material with chapter tests after each chapter.
This differs in some ways to the traditional model of learning. Many times teachers will lecture for the majority of the class period with students listening in a passive role and taking notes. The teacher may assign chapters to be read at home for the following class period. There may be some worksheets, but mostly showing and demonstrating the possession of knowledge comes from taking a test or writing a paper in a more traditional setting. The main difference in the two processes is the amount of lecture, and small group activities in the classroom.
I believe that Dave does a good job of limiting the amount of lecture time in his classroom so that students do not get restless and board. The students really enjoy working on the worksheets in small groups. Dave is more of a facilitator in the classroom going around and answering student questions when they come up, but letting the students do small group work while he monitors the students.
This is one example of school reform. I really like this concept and learning style for elementary and middle school. I believe students at that age benefit from more peer group interaction and problem solving among their peers. However, one limitation to the learning process may be for high school students whose classes contain tougher material that might require more lecture time.
“I like when the kids are engaged and you can see the growth in what their learning,” said Dave. “Kids can be nice and funny and...