education reform, school staff, Student-centered

If Kids Ran the School

Last week I asked my students to blog about what they would change if they had invented school.  While some may think their answers predictable, I think they offer valid suggestions as we move forward in our educational reform.

  • More Recess – while easily dismissed as impossible, I think that this being the top response shows that students need more breaks during instruction.  I do sometimes provide an extra recess if the weather is nice, but often there simply is not time for a full recess experience.  What I can do on a regular basis, though, is to give them partner talk time, free choice for a couple of minutes or even just shift activities more often.  Anything  to offer them some chance for movement and resetting of their brains.
  • 4 Day School Week – It was not that students wanted less time in school, in fact, they suggested longer school days so that they could have 3 days off to be with their family.  I have discussed how much I value family time myself so I can understand the time to just be a kid and to let all of the new information sink in.
  • Allow electronics.  After a recent lunch with my students I was not surprised to hear that most of them had received an Ipod Touch or something similar for Christmas.  I believe, as many do, that the way of the future will be students supplying personal electronic devices alongside schools.  What a great way to incorporate known tools into our learning environment.
  • More choices.  Whether it be choosing your teacher, your room, your learning partner, or just the project, students were begging for more choices in their day.  While I feel my school allows students many choices, this was a great reminder to constantly challenge myself to offer more choices than I perhaps have felt comfortable doing in the past.
  • More fun.  Students wanted to play more math games, chew bubble gum, have lunch with their teachers, play more in the room and just be more creative overall.  

What do you think your students would make their priority?  Is there a way to incorporate ideas from this into your room?  I am certainly trying to.   If you would like to see their full responses, visit our kidblog and leave them a comment or two.

8 thoughts on “If Kids Ran the School”

  1. I loved that they wanted more choices, because that has sort of been my goal this year. I've brought back Daily 5 Reading and started a Daily 5 math which enables my students to choose which activities they get to do during independent work times. I've seen a HUGE increase in motivation and on task behavior. I actually wrote about student choice in a recent blog posting: "Why I Love Daily 5" Thanks for your willingness to share what goes on in your 4th grade classroom. Your work and honesty has inspired me to finally get the ball rolling on my own blog.

  2. Such a great question to ask students! I'm working on a media production thesis that explores this very question. More specifically: the opinions of learners and educators about high school–their likes and dislikes.For learners: more sports, dances, teachers that care and challenge them.For educators: smaller classes and more time to devote to being more engaged…Have a look…and a listen to the blog and podcasts. I'd love to hear your thoughts:

  3. I always think that if we could just be in their shoes (or should I say seats) for a day and feel how their day feels to them, we would use our own experiences as learners to modify what we do. How many times have you gone to a full day workshop and thought, wow, now I know why my students get tired and tuned out. I keep going back to Eric Jensen's work to remind myself of what the brain craves and that is pretty much what your kids identified! Choice, breaks, fun, movement, emotional connections, and novelty.

  4. Wow! this is very amazing coming from 4th graders. Very well thought out and provided great evidence why they would do such. I did something similar to this with my 9th graders. When we were learning about Napoleon and his Napoleonic Code, we look at our school rules, structures, etc and thought about how we could make them better or change things. Students said many of the same thing your kids did. You have a great blog by the way!

  5. Thank you all for your comments! What is really blowing me away is just how universal these messages are from kids. my fourth graders did not write anything astounding or surprising but simply repeated what generations have said before them; make school more about us, less about the teacher. I do think that teachers should be required to go through a day in the life of a student, I think it would be incredibly eye opening.

  6. Hey Mrs. Ripp,I think you should read Edward de Bono's 'Guide to Thinking'.In it he discusses his many theories of helping people think.One of which is his PMI strategy — where in every situation you look at the Postitive, Minus, and Interesting outcomes of hypothetical questions.For example, what if all cars were yellow?P: Easy for manufacturers, minor accidents wouldn't require new paint… etc.M: It would be hard to find your car, theft would be easier…etc.I: It'd be interesting to see if new shades of yellow arose…Teaching children not to go with their instincts right off the bat, and first analyzing the situation completely is a skill most people do not possess — especially people that think they are smarter than all others.Check it out.Love the blog,Christian S.

  7. I was having a similar discussion with my students about electronics. They were surprised to hear that I was in favor of them. I explained that there are so many possibilities to use electronics in education.One thing I do that my kids love is have "30 Second Dance Parties" where we just take a break and boogie down. It's a good way for kids to re-energize throughout the day.

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