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Redesigning Learning Spaces & Flexible Seating

By John Camp, English Department Head

Redesigning Learning Spaces & Flexible Seating

from The Space: A Guide for Educators (Hare & Dillon, 2016)

As difficult as it may sometimes be to relinquish the manacles of some tradition(s) in education, I have focused on a main mantra when considering change: what is best for students and learning. Thus, driven by this guiding principle and my teaching methods, I decided to pursue a critical trend in 21st-century teaching and learning: the importance of space, flexible seating, and classroom design. The rub, however, was my particular classroom; since I arrived at St. Mark’s in 2008, I have been fortunate to teach in Room 8/Room 136, which historically had been the “Sixth Form Room” until 1995 (read the partner piece to this article on the history of this room here). Hence, making changes to the “seminar” classroom would be bold, as the beginning move would be removing the large, classic seminar classroom table that has been a fixture since 1995. When I teach, I do not often lecture (if at all), and while seminar-esque discussion is a crucial element of my classes, it certainly is not the only element. In all of my classes (VI Form electives “Getting LOST,” “Getting LOST II: The Writers’ Room,” “Rebels with a Cause,” and V Form English class “Books Without Borders”), students work in small and medium groups, write on their own, present to the class, do activities that include movement and interaction, utilize media, collaborate on writing and projects, watch videos/films, brainstorm and note take on the whiteboards, and conference one-on-one with me (see images below for most of these activities in action!). The large oval table was not conducive to quality student learning in these endeavors.  My first stop en route to change was John Warren. (more…)

Video Oral Arguments: Literature on Trial

Students on Film (in order of appearance): Charlotte Wood, Jenny Deveaux, Joey Smith, Amanda Christie, Josh Loveridge, Gabe Brower, Janelle Carmichael, VI Form

Video Oral Arguments: Literature on Trial

Editor’s Note: This is a highlight reel from Ms. Matthews’ Literature on Trial class (2016 VI Form fall semester English). The course is divided into two sections. In the first half, the focus is on trials, plaintiffs, prosecutors and defendants, reading works of literature and brainstorming criminal or civil wrongs committed by characters in the text. Students work in trial groups to gather evidence, prepare witnesses, and put on their best case. The second half consists of appellate work where students focus on the after effects of a trial, reviewing lower court records for Constitutional issues, drafting briefs for appeal and preparing for a final oral argument.

Please click here or on the images for the “student attorneys” in action! screenshot-2017-02-20-19-30-09screenshot-2017-02-20-19-30-57 (more…)

The Future of Libraries and the St. Mark’s Library

By  Coco Zephir, Head Librarian

The Future of Libraries and the St. Mark’s Library

img_6605Libraries are ever changing in both form and function. One aspect currently at the center of library innovation is user-experience (UX). UX focuses on meeting the needs of patrons to improve their experiences by making them more impactful and meaningful. UX is a reiterative process that involves constant conversation with your community. Libraries using UX are implementing human-centered design, or design thinking, to better understand their patron base. Human-centered design, “focuses on defining and then resolving concerns by paying attention to the needs, aspirations, and wishes of people” (Peet 2016). (more…)

A Presentation and Role Play in Chinese Classes

By Helen Huang and Amy Kim, III Form [Chinese II] & Soo Bin (Josh) Lee and Shep Greene, VI Form [Chinese IV]

Editor’s Note: from Rubo Fu, St. Mark’s faculty member–“In Chinese class, presentations and role plays require students to use vocabulary and grammar rules they have learned to create their own stories or give opinions. This allows them to develop creativity and have a better experience using the language.” 

Click on Image below for “Directional Complements” slide show in Chinese II

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Click on Image below for a role play video of dialogue (transcript below) in Chinese IV

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Empathy Through Education in China’s Xi Ma Yin Village

By Carrick Zhu, V Form

Empathy Through Education in China’s Xi Ma Yin Village

carrickschool3My mom and I began our volunteer teaching trip in 2014. With the help from the local Red Cross Organization in Ning Xia, China, we were able to find a local primary school situated in Xi Ma Yin village. Xi Ma Yin rests at the base of the Helan Mountain where the water supply is scarce. The villagers are mostly immigrants from the other side of the Helan Mountain. The elementary school where I worked is called Xi Ma Yin Immigrant Development Zone Elementary School. (more…)

Make Deep Work Your Superpower: Deep Work and School (Part 1)

By Dr. Colleen Worrell, Director of the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning

Make Deep Work Your Superpower: Deep Work and School (Part 1)

Want to learn complicated things quickly, be more productive, and generate higher quality work? Make Deep Work your superpower.

“Deep work” is a term coined by Georgetown University professor Cal Newport to refer to the ability to “focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task” (“Cal Newport on Deep Work”). In his newest book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (NY: Grand Central Publishing, 2016), Professor Newport argues persuasively that the ability to do deep work is the superpower of the 21st century. By training your ability to focus and by actively carving out time “for real intense focused work,” Newport argues that we can train our brains and cultivate habits that build a (more…)