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Ten Points


The basic techniques:

1.  Each child has an individual education plan (IEP) based on the student's strengths, personality (Briggs-Myers KnowYourStyle.com) and learning style (Becoming a Multiple Intelligences School by Thomas Hoerr).

Short Survey (four questions)

2.  A focus on passions  Each kid studies the parts of the curriculum he wants to.   If a kid loves horses, he students the history of horses, the chemistry and biology of horses.  Numbers and math relate to genetics of horses, speed, decimals for speed, fractions and ratios for how to feed the horse (dividing horse feed into meals and calculating the cost of maintaining the horse).
(I found the poster on a pin on pinterest.)

Connect the curriculum with skill building.   
The works of Will Sutherland (QBESchool.com) and Dennis Littky (BigPicture.org and MetCenter.org) are paramount in such a school, both for building relationships and for developing a host of mentors for the students. 

4.  Learning by watching, learning with hands-on experience:  The curriculum should include for teenagers a skill-building section so that they can watch mentors at work, eventually gaining skills through experience (and also gaining scholastic credit for time in the internships).   Track their interests by setting up pinterest boards.

5. Exhibitions instead of written tests (or in addition):   Students give exhibitions (making posters, delivering powerpoints, making movies on computers)

6.  Projects instead of lectures: Students are asked to work in small groups on projects to discover information

7.  Narratives instead of grades:   The teacher writes a letter to the student every 8 weeks describing What was planned, What was done, What needs to be done in the next 8 weeks (all connected to the student's IEP)

8.  Portfolios instead of a transcript  There is a portfolio of work accomplished (essays, photos, reports, etc.)   To demonstrate mastery of English and other languages, the student has a digital portfolio showing performances in spoken tests.

9. "Take Apart Laboratory" or workshop, where broken items (fans, computers, air conditioners, refrigerators, car engines, etc) are taken apart and analyzed (and, if possible, reassembled)  by students.  

10.  Learning through stories.   Ethics and inner strength are acquired by telling stories like Stanley Milgram's experiments, giving time for contemplation, and showing complex and morally ambiguous situations to the students.   

Time is a variable*:  students progress when they master a subject, not according to a fixed calendar related to their age group.  *The phrase is promoted by Dr. Fischler   TheStudentIsTheClass.com

Students are taught to suspend judgment (gathering information before leaping to a conclusion)

Lateral thinking exercises (EdwarddeBono.com is a leading source of out-of-the-box thinking).  

Let's Lecture Less
Teaching is 25% academic, 60% listening and observation, 15% guidance and positive reinforcement.
Meeting with parents and integration of the curriculum are important

Long-term relationships with the teacher are important.  Dennis Littky's teachers stay with the same 15 students for 4 years, grades 9-12, teaching all subjects.   That's how you build relationships of trust and how the teacher REALLY gets to know the student.

No more boring classes.

No more boring lectures

The teacher is the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage.

Guide On the Side Schools  

Teacher training is vital.   Many teachers teach the way that they were taught ("It worked for me, so I'm asking my students to memorize what I put on the board").   Many teachers need to learn to teach in a way that they were NOT taught.   Most teachers need restructuring of their "teaching self."

Those are the main points.
Show me how you teach.  I want to improve my methods.  What works for you and your students?
If you use projects, what instructions do you give?
What do you say to build a fire in students?
What words do you use to help students find their passions in the school work?
Please video your best practices and post them on youtube so I and other teachers can learn from you.

Steve McCrea +1 954 646 8246

Who can stop at ten points?

Other points:
11.  We tend to learn items that are close to what we already know.  (Our "proximal zone").  Sometiems we learn in a way similar to our parents.  My father liked to talk to himself when learning a new procedure:  "...and then I'll move that thing with a small screwdriver..."  I started copying him and found that I could learn better.   

12.   We tend to pay attention when a new item does not fit with what we already know.  (a child who knows that a clear liquid is good for plants might be surprised to find out that some clear liquids smell funny or can kill plants.   Hmmm)  

13.  If we lecture, we might reach 20% or 30% of the students -- and the information is often gone after six months.  If we record the lectures and put them online, then the students who watch the videos at the time and place of their choosing and then REVIEW the videos in class are more likely to move information into their long-term memory.

The event does not fit with our current mindset, so it gets our attention.  We have to grow to make room for this new information.  "Dewey beats Truman!" reads the headline.  So, did Harry Truman ever lose an election?  Hmmm  what year was that photo taken?   Hmmm.  Why is Harry Truman smiling if the newspaper says that he lost the election?   That photo is likely to stick in our heads much longer than if I asked us to memorize the presidents in order

Nixon   Eisenhower  Ford    FDR  Truman   Carter   LBJ  JFK   ....
Match the names to the years when they were first elected... 

The role of the guide on the side educator is to create opportunities for those events to stick out, not simply get placed on a row for memorization.

14. Information spread by peers sticks.    Research shows that information that comes from teachers is retained less than information that is spread by peers.   In the future, I will send links to some cool videos to a student in a class and and let the students decide what to share with other students in the class.


The following six keys will unlock or open doors in a young person's future.
Academic (Grade point average) 
Scores (SAT, other tests)
Social skills

What percent of the doors depend on these elements?
Some students say:
3% Language
45% Academic (Grade point average) 
40% Scores (SAT, other tests)
5% Social skills
5% Inheritance
2% Experience

Some doors depend only on Academics and Scores

A surprising number of doors also require other factors to open

In my life, the ability to speak another language, social skills and experience were far more valuable ...
20% Language  (I was taken to Martinique because I speak French)
2% Academic (Grade point average) 
1% Scores (SAT, other tests)  (in the workplace, nobody has asked me my scores)
35% Social skills (I smile a lot and I can sleep in a car, I don't need a hotel and I have never told an employer that the office is too hot or cold for me to work there)
2% Inheritance  (I got my first job because my mother knew the owner, so I inherited that opportunity)
40% Experience (I learned how to do many things and I'm open to traying something new, the "growth mindset" described by Carol Dweck, search "Dweck growth mindset" on Youtube)

There are other ways to get information into brains.   instead of posting the info on a board and asking kids to cram the info into their brains, why not let them graze.

Free Range Learning is a nice concept, too.

Highly recommended


Maria Andersen describes SOCRAIT    the Society for Artificial Intelligence Technology.
Bottom two images are from Maria's youtube video.

Thanks to K. Wollard for pointing out that LASSIE can spell
Social skills

Links recommended by my colleague F. Savain
 Questions to ask students:
 1.  Where is your education plan?   What can we work on today?
These photos were taken in classes organized by Dennis Yuzenas  WhatDoYaKnow.com

2.  What do you like to read?  do?  talk about?   
3.  What skill can you develop today?   How do you want to learn that skill?
4.  What do you want to learn by watching today?
5.  How will you show what you learned today? 

6.  Instead of waiting for me to talk to you, what do you want to do to learn today?
What project do you want to work on?
7.  What did you plan to do today?  What did you do today?  What do you want to do tomorrow to build on today's work?
8.  Can we add something to your portfolio?
9.  What can we take apart today?
10. What stories do you know?  What stories do you want to hear?   What do you want to learn through a story?

11.  How can we be more flexible for you?   When is the best time of day for you to learn?   Is it easier for you to learn from a lecture on audio CD? Or on a video?   How do you prefer to listen to a lecture (at home?  .mp3 or audio CD?)

12.  What is another way of looking at this situation?   

13.  Are you bored? Yes?  Then tell someone.

Use Youtube (this video shows Mario Joel Llorente Leyva with a student)

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