Thursday, July 17, 2008

Back in Boston

Quite a bit of catching up to do. We arrived, finally, at Boston Station, organised our train tickets for New York on Saturday and return to airport on Monday. We made a bit of a mistake flying out of Boston as we should have us flying from New York – wastes 1 day really.

The Newton Marriott is quite a way out of town on the Charles River - $40 by taxi. It's a nice hotel, but I think they think we are some one else because they keep unactivating our key and asking us why we haven't checked out! Our room is a very long walk from reception which is a big piss off when your key doesn't work again.

After checking in we had our first hotel meal – a bit expensive. They forgot to bring out our appetiser so we went the mains back until they had. It was good to see that they didn't charge us for the appetisers.

We got up Tuesday morning for a pleasant, but painful, jog along the river before boarding the bus to Providence Rhode Is MET school where we spent the day being hosted by staff and students.

At the MET there are 4 separate high schools of 120-150 students each. Students are in groups of 15-17 and stick together with the same teacher (advisor) for their four years at high school. They staryt each Monday, Wednesday and Friday in their advisory group where they discuss issues, go over the individual learning plans and discuss which whole group work they need to cover. The rest of their day is spent working on their Individual Work which is centred around their internship and related projects. They meet in advisory at the end of the day. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they don't come to school. They are on internships (work placement) where they are requirted to complete projects for that workplace. Every quarter they make a one hour presentation to an authentic audience on how well they are achieving their learning goals.
There are no science labs. They do one 1 ½ hour seswsion of PE. There are no classrooms, rather advisory's that can hold 17 students and a central work space. There is no library, but the public library is close. They would be a low decile school.

This visit has resulted in some good thinking for what we could do in Opotiki.

That evening we drank our one free drink, ate some rabbit food, hadf a few more beers and met some neat people before walking the 3k to a restaurant strip. We ate in the American Bistro because it waas the first one we came across with a toilet as Terry was now nearly pissing himself. It was another quite expensive feed.

This morning's first session started aT 7.30 so it was an early breakfast and no run. I went to a session on how one secondary school has moved along the learning community journey. This has started to give me some ideas on teacher/student blogs and use of wikis.

This was followed by a keynote by Ewan McIntosh which was difficult to understand because of his Scottish accent.

My next session was on Google Tools which was brilliant. I was not aware what was available and it is all free! A huge number of programmes for school especially those requiring collaboration can be managed on Google. I am excited by what I saw here and have some thoughts on how this could be easily shared with staff.

After lunch I went to a session on blogging and have increased my understasnding of the potential use of blogs in teaching and learning.

The final session was on Building 21st Century Secondary schools. The model presented took the principles of the MET school and fitted them more into a conventional school structure, sort of, with a focus on Project Based Learning, similar to the New basics model in Queensland.

We're now resting up before heading out on a Duck Tour and then meeting with Chris, the other Groomsman, for a drink.


Ariadne aka Marilyn said...

Sounds like some good ideas here Maurie

Ewan McIntosh said...

I'm sorry you didn't catch everything in the keynote - you should have let me know through Twitter and I'd have slowed down ;-) Not to worry. In the next week or so I'll be blogging a series of smaller blog posts that explain its contents. My typing shouldn't have too much of an accent :-)