In Your Opinion (IYO): Should students still ‘copy’ notes?

I just came across a mom who was problematic about his son. She was worried that he wasnt getting high grades because he doesn’t copy from the board FAST ENOUGH. In the same week, I heard of a 6th grader who couldnt copy the 5 slides of notes FAST ENOUGH that come exam time, she had incomplete notes to study from.

So what is all this copying for? I have no clue. But if I make an intelligent guess, it would have to be … to kill classroom time.

Why will you make students copy notes on the board in this day and age? The only difference these teachers are doing now is making students copy from slides rather than the blackboard or manila paper. If every teacher only has 50-60 minutes to teach, why waste more than half of it making students copy notes? What is the teacher doing while this is happening (aside from clicking the PLAY button of her note slides)??

Then when a student can’t finish copying, he is labeled as a “slow writer” or his fine motor skills are judged as weak. So before I go and rant more, if you’re a teacher, a parent or a student, please ENLIGHTEN me on WHY should students still need to copy notes…. Then I will post WHAT teachers should be teaching them during these precious wasted minutes..

The Progressive Preschool Classroom

In the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (Rev Ed) by Harms, Clifford and Cryer, schools are rated according to several concepts. Under Room arrangement for play, the preschool will fail in rating if it has no learning centers defined. A Learning/Interest Area was defined as an area where materials, organized by type, are stores so that they are accessible to children, and appropriately furnished play space is provided for children to participate in a particular kind of play. Examples of areas are art, blocks, dramatic play, reading, nature / science, and manipulatives / fine motor.

Aside from having more than 3 learning areas, the preschool will score highly if:

  • Quiet and Active centers placed to not interfere with one another (Ex. reading or listening area separated from blocks or housekeeping
  • Space is arranged so most activities are not interrupted (Ex. shelves placed so children walk around, not through, activities; placement of furniture discourages rough play or running)
  • Areas are organized for independent use by children (Ex. labeled open shelves; labeled containers for toys; open shelves are not overcrowded; play space near toy storage).
  • Sufficient space for several activities to go on once (Ex. floor space for blocks, tables space for manipulatives, easel for art)

Watch out for articles explaining each learning area…

The Progressive Elementary Classroom

When I checked the statistics of this blog, a lot of searches that end up viewing the site is looking for the learning environment in a progressive elementary or grade school classroom.

Here in the Philippines, most classrooms have a traditional set up. Unfortunately, even some of the progressive schools have adopted a traditional set up wherein all the chairs are facing the teacher and have no opportunity to have learning centers or to be decentralized. Why? It costs less and the administration assumes that the class can be managed better. There is a way to make a classroom progressive in an efficient way.

In our school, we decided that the elementary students move from one classroom to another depending on their subject. Why?

1. Every classroom becomes one learning area and the students have an opportunity to visit each area. For example, the subjects Filipino and English are in one classroom called Communication Arts room.

2. Since each classroom is set-up as a learning area focused on that particular subject, the teacher of that subject can design his/her classroom to have elements to encourage learning for that subject. For example, here’s our Communication Arts room..

Yes, the teacher is in front and all the chairs are facing her however, check the varied the positions of the chairs and tables. The tables are long and can sit 4 students to encourage group work. They are movable in the event that the teacher needs to change the lay out of the classroom when the curriculum calls for it. She can move all the tables to the side and have one big group in the middle or separate the students into smaller groups.

Every classroom, regardless of subject, has a reading area. Even the Math and Science room has one. Why? A progressive classroom houses a progressive curriculum. A progressive curriculum is integrated, meaning all subjects are connected with one another (this is intended for another article in this blog). Since this is the Communication Arts room, it SHOULD have a reading area! This particular area have the all traits of a progressive reading area: covers out, varied titles, culture- and curriculum-based and the students can TOUCH the books!

Every classroom displays various projects of the students. Why the net? Here’s a tip: the net makes it easier to change displays because the projects are not taped to the wall. Those awful tape marks also add cost because you have to repaint your walls more often. Save in tape, save in paint 🙂

The learning environment is crucial to be parallel to the progressive curriculum. Let’s harness our teaching creativity to design a unique and progressive classroom even for the elementary-aged student!