Different districts, different learning initiatives. Schools adopt or create many different programs to enrich areas of learning such as literacy, math, science and often they are locally developed programs built out through some sort of grant funding. Some of these programs really hit home in terms of being engaging and also engaging children in serious learning. Three different initiatives, of note, offer up some good ideas for teaching and engaging young learners; but also, these programs are scalable and can be re-created to fit one’s own local district.
One project that helps young students develop their writing skills is called the Digital Dialogue Project. In this project, usually for elementary or intermediate students, but appropriate for any age, kids are matched up children in a foreign school and given a platform on which to communicate using email and instant messaging tools. Through this, kids write in great quantity, they talk about themselves, reflect, ask questions, gather knowledge… and ask questions about writing; how words are spelled, correct usage, and what they learn, they are able to immediately apply, and therefore are far more likely to truly know the correct way to construct a sentence.
In the area of extracurriculars, one interesting program called the Creative Minds Organization offers students the chance to participate in academic competitions like Destination Imagination. These competitions require that students work in teams to solve challenges that generally hinge on integrated knowledge and creative thinking. Students present their findings to judges, compete on statewide bases and are honored in awards ceremonies for their accomplishments. Each team is fostered at the local level, and their ability to compete is greatly facilitated by the adults who support these extras.
A third program, offered up by a commercial venture, is the Burpee Grow Anywhere Garden Truck Tour. The company offers up curriculum resources to help teach students about growing gardens, and also provides interesting tips on greening up unexpected locations. The company has an outreach component and tours schools across the country; of course, within education good ideas can catch as easily as the classroom cold. Mobile book trucks, mobile art labs and even mobile science labs, have all made appearances at schools around the country. Connecting students with these opportunities, or helping to create or deliver them, makes for an unforgettable learning experience.
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