As a curious person on holiday in Chicago for the week (otherwise known as a nerd), I thought it would be the perfect time to explore a question that I have been asking for years. What are American schools really like? Having never worked in one myself and being fortunate enough to be teaching and learning in a fantastic school in Asia, I really had no idea any more. While I know that schools vary greatly depending on a wide range of factors, I was most interested in comparing apples to apples. I wanted to see what a PYP school in a metropolitan area in the US was like and how it compares to my beloved NIST.
While researching schools before my trip, I found that all of the PYP schools in the Chicago metropolitan area are public schools- another area of understanding I have come to lack in my years abroad. Having no idea how public PYP schools operate, I was thrilled to receive a response and invitation to visit Ogden.
On the day of my visit I was instantly impressed by the large park and intricate architecture just across the street from campus. A high degree of professionalism and kindness glowed from the guards, secretaries and faculty. After exciting afternoon touring the school, meeting with teachers and discussing PYP curriculum with the passionate PYP Coordinator, Taneal Sanders, I have to say that I was impressed that all of this PYP enthusiasm exists right here in the Midwest. I have always been proud of Minnesota's schools but I had no idea that the PYP was being implemented so well here in downtown Chicago. The more I learned, the more impressed I was. I have very little knowledge of the Common Core Curriculum but find it reassuring that even under its expectations, these students are still just as curious about the world around them as my own students in Bangkok. They are living the Learner Profile, just like I have seen in other parts of the world. After years of thinking it would be difficult to find the kind of internationally-minded, global citizens I am used to anywhere outside of my bubble of experience, I was truly proud to such learning in my own country.
- Endless Reader App for iPad: Highly engaging literacy app for lower elementary (Endless Alphabet and Endless Math also available)
- Great Books: Picture books, ebooks and teacher resources for critical thinking and inquiry
- Class Dojo- Tablet or mobile phone based positive recognition system- could maybe be used to recognize attributes of the PYP in students? Parents can follow too
- Free the Children: Action website! International charity and educational partner that encourages youth to take action in sustainable, holistic ways
- We Day: Inspirational event for year-long youth action initiatives
- Me to We: Leadership and action camps, training and trips for youth
- Prezi for iPad: How did I not know that students could make Prezis on an iPad with the free app?!
- Common Sense in the Common Core: The IB is figuring out how to work with Common Core and offering continuum workshops on the topic- Interesting!
- The Homework Myth: book worth reading for knowledge in this ongoing debate
- Donors Choose: Teachers propose projects for funding and individual donors can support education initiatives
- Sakai- Learning Management System