“RE@L Thought for the Week!” Vol. 10, April 26, 2018: Student to President: "I Learn Best with My Hands. Computers Let Me Learn with My Hands!"

RE@L-logo_Corp_TM_New-Tag_8-15-17_CMYK     Students can teach us teachers how to better teach.

They can also teach themselves how to better learn.

They can even teach a President of the United States why effective technologies need to be in K12 classrooms everywhere….computers, mobile devices and software that makes a student think and learn.

But, first both students and teachers must know how to use these new teaching and learning tools effectively.

Here’s the rest of the story: Almost 27 years ago, President George H. W. Bush visited our Saturn School of Tomorrow in St. Paul MN. Saturn was an extended middle school (grades 4-8) and uniquely designed with the primary goal in that more students would learn more, lots more.

SaturnSaturn School was a downtown school that made use of the many downtown resources. These were resources the teacher and students could walk to: the library, our renowned Science Museum, the nearby Museum of Art, our local public TV and radio studios, local businesses and other careers where students could form apprenticeship agreements.

Another unique feature was that each student had their own personally designed Learning Plan. In that plan students kept a a listing of the skills they had mastered, what they yet needed  to learn, and what they needed to master those skills. They reported their progress and requests to their teachers, mentors and parents. But, they were personally responsible for their learning! We salted the hay, but they had to come to the watering hole of knowledge to drink. They did just that!

saturn kids at computerThey also used many technologies to help them learn, mostly computers and video in those days. They also studied their online basic skills and tested for mastery; they outlined and wrote their many papers and reports; they used computers and Lego blocks to create robotic devices, and make “turtles” move here and there. And a lot more.

President Bush heard about Saturn School and came to visit us. The school faculty did not host these prestigious visitors, the students did….just as they did all visitors to our school, over 100,000 of them. One of the students who volunteered to show the President his learning project was Elijah. He had come to our school deficient in many of his basic skills but was making good progress.

Bush&Elijah copyElijah liked technology and had been working on a project with his Lego-Logo robotics project. The President asked him what he liked about computers. Elijah paused, and said, “I learn best with my hands. Computer projects let me learn with my hands.” The President was amazed by how much Elijah knew about robotics. The next morning this photo on the right appeared in our local paper. It says it all: Computers can make you both think and learn.

Screenshot 2018-04-26 17.03.12Here’s a link to a video the Saturn School students made to tell others about their school. They planned, storyboarded, did a video shoot, edited and narrated it in their own words. It’s been shown to thousands.

Click the photo at the left to view this short video.

The students’ video changes the way you think about school and learning, doesn’t it?

Find some changes that work for you and your students. Try them out in your classroom.

If those changes work well, tell your colleagues about them.

Start a revolution in your own classroom. Changes that work are truly needed.

Whether you are a teacher or a student:

Make learning happen with technology in your classrooms!

                                It’s hands-on, heads-on learning you will never forget!

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Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.