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Jamie Caputo Getrajdman (not verified)

Dear Anthony, Speaking not

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Dear Anthony, Speaking not only as an educator, but also a parent, I applaud your ongoing dedication to our children! Education SHOULD be about preparing children for life, not for a series of tests. The process of learning is life long, and if a passion for it develops early enough, it can become an individual's greatest asset. We must not, however, forget that learning not only includes gathering and retaining information, but also includes building relationships with others, investigating and solving problems, and being self-reflective and critical. In my opinion, it makes perfect sense to create classrooms where children can do all of this and more. Constructivist instructional strategy that includes reality-based and project-based learning activities is often confused with unstructured or independent style study. The latter is only true, however, if little effort goes into planning units of study. While constructivists strive to create student-centered learning, that learning is never unguided. Many teachers are frightened of constructivism, because they fear losing control in their classroom, but in fact, just the opposite is true. The true constructivist teacher acts as a facilitator and guide of lessons that are based on meaningful, and thoughtful concepts and objectives. Although many of the learning activities in a constructivist classroom are often reality-based and project-based, an effective teacher will offer his or her students a variety of lessons and activities within the unit that are designed to meet the different learning styles or preferences of each student. Parents and teachers must realize that learning does not revolve around memorizing and regurgitating factual information, but rather around creating meaning from gathering information, building on previous knowledge, performing purposeful tasks and experiences. By allowing students to delve into a project or problem by researching that problem, asking their own questions, formulating their own answers, and presenting their findings, we give them the tools that they need to succeed in life. Aren't these the types of tasks that we, as adults, do almost daily? I doubt there are many adults that remember all of the facts that they were taught or memorized as children in school, but I bet there are many adults that remember meaningful childhood, school-related experiences. When I was a pre-service teacher, someone gave me a great piece of advice. He said, "Remember, it's not about you, it's about them." With great respect and admiration, Jamie Caputo Getrajdman Sixth Grade World Cultures Teacher Eisenhower Middle School Wyckoff, New Jersey
Thomas Francis (not verified)

I am a father of a 3rd

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I am a father of a 3rd grader and a member of corporate america. The vision and destination of "learning environment in which to design and implement meaningful, project-based, reality-based opportunities" is one I would love to have confidence in at my daughters school and in my workplace for that matter. I look forward to learning from the processes, challenges and sucesses your team of administrators, teachers and parents work through. The struggle with dramatic change is in making the connection with the hearts and minds of the leaders rather than the vision itself.
Brad Lakritz (not verified)

Tony Bencivenga's "challenge

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Tony Bencivenga's "challenge to teachers" leaves out my 7 year old daughter. For the first five weeks of school this year she was dreaming of, begging for, and even made up her own homework. At Mary E. Silveira Elementary School in San Rafael, CA the 2nd grade doesn't get homework right away. "It felt like a whole semester" she said. If the goal "is to make their instructional programs reality based, project based, constructivist, and interconnected," then homework is one important method to engage Mia in learning. Sure the programs and activities at Mary Silveira "provide opportunities for students to develop their ability to see patterns, make connections, and create their own meaning." The Ecostar program is interactive, they are completing their own books for the young auther's fair, there is a good amount of time working on computers, and the school wide jobs help teach responsibilities and provide leadership opportunities. All that make school interesting, but for Mia, a set of math problems, spelling words, or even a short book report three times a week is just plain fun!
Michael Lambert (not verified)

Dear Tony, Certainly a

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Dear Tony, Certainly a believer in the philosphy you speak about. Eager to hear the specific stories. Michael Lambert Hong Kong International School Class webpage: http://dnet.hkis.edu.hk/ups/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=34&Itemid=212
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