Saturday, May 30, 2009

coming to the end

As the competition is due on monday, I am wrapping everything up on my end. Here are some of the points that the teacher gave for improvement to the learning environment.

ok you asked me to email you ideas so here they are. i think we should incorporate (not my own ideas):
1. technology: computer lab
2. lighting
3. colors
4. green: compost, all types of recycling, buildings made with recycled materials, grey water recycling, student garden (a cooking and gardening class incorporated), solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal heating and air conditioning, natural lighting, water harvesting, organic food in cafeteria, ways to reduce paper that we pass out to kids/xerox?
6. fancy gym, library, auditorium and meeting spaces
7. comforts for a teacher because a tired teacher is a cranky, mean, no-more-energy-left-to-teach teacher (BIG problem at our school)
8. a more inviting teacher lounge to encourage collaboration in a school culture (a problem for most schools) of isolation in ur closed-door classroom
1. try to appeal to all types of learners (the five: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc)
2. provide hands-on learning (projects, experiment resources and areas)
3. provide stimulating & out of the ordinary (community clean-up could be an elective on top of the state-mandated grade-level curriculum, for ex) electives for students (particularly un-engaged middle schoolers to enjoy coming ot school for)
4. other concerns: safety, nutrition, comfort
5. creating ownership and pride of their school in students
6. FOCUS ON THE LOCAL: catering to OUR kids and their interests and concerns and priorities validates their culture and actually reaches them--unlike we are doign now--they HATE school!
7. positive, enjoyable environment
BUT, like i said, those are not unique ideas. i compiled them from other sources really. i think the way to really stand out is to focus on the fact that our school is LOW INCOME. so let's incorporate all above, but spend the most time on our low income issues (no money, no education, high crime, high pregnancy/drop out):
1. bars on the windows
2. how to make kids feel more safe. how to deal with lock-downs
3. on-school police office but no metal detectors?
4. supplies for kids supplied by school
5. there are high number of behavior and emotionally-disturbed kids (foster, abused, etc) who have trouble focusing (in rich communities they give them aderol), so having cubicles/quiet corners/more separated space for concentration than just having to sit in rows and no other way to learn
6. build parent classrooms for mandatory classes for parents to teach them how they MUST regulate their students' homework, etc
7. build a girls' center to foster strong women who will not drop out or get pregnant... or at least know that option
8. because they know it's south central and it's ugly and not the fanciest school, they treat it that way. if we could make it the most beautiful thing in the community with lots of tress and flowers and murals and GRASS (etc?), it would be a treated as a special place to step foot and behavior problems (huge in low income) would eliminate. in this regard, there should be a legal area for graffiti as art--such an obvious way to eliminate our graffiti all over buildings and classrooms at this school. in this way, incorporating OUR population's interests instead of applying a uniform formula to all LAUSD schools. FOCUS ON THE LOCAL (should really be the center of our whole project). this would be building structures for skateboarding, break dancing area, hip hop dj and dancing area, graf wall.
10. reaching the students means giving them what they want. we eliminated all electives in public schools when we realized how low their english and math was. let's keep the focus on english and math because how low they are will be a huge burden on them, but also incorporate at least ONE hour a day to electives to keep them engaged. this would be re-instating wood shop, cooking, and other vocational type stuff (because focusing the this local means vocational skills not just academic--they usually go to trade tech college if any college). but also pushing and expanding culture and opportunities with not just ambitious academic standards but also electives new to them like band/orchestra, drama, etc.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In the year 2025...

Mae Jemison is an astronaut, a doctor, an art collector, a dancer, and pretty much an amazing person. Her talk on TED is just amazing. We can't just teach art or science. They are completely integrated. Teaching architecture to kids is a good balance of both.

Monday, May 4, 2009

LOUNGE learning

As you can see in the post below, most of the kids wanted a lounge space for learning. This High school in ├śrestad in Denmark by 3XN is one of the first to fulfill new educational visions regarding subjects, organization and teaching systems.
Communication, interaction and synergy are the key issues behind the design of the space. Interpretation of openness and flexibility regarding team sizes, varying from the individual over groups to classes and assemblies opens up to new collective learning. It also reflects international tendencies aiming at achieving a more dynamic and life-like studying environment and introducing information technology (aka laptops/cell phones/ipods) as a main tool. This also instigates and enforces the students’ abilities gradually to take responsibility for own learning, being able to work in teams as well as working individually.
This is by far one of the most engaging schools I have ever seen.

What would you like the future class room to be?

Here are the papers that the kids drew when they were asked to show what the classroom of the future to be.

Friday, May 1, 2009

the future: from 6th grade and beyond!

The blog is now going to shift from just a research to more project base. The work with JCJ and Push is complete and I am now going to use this as a forum for the projection of my work and my partners' work on the Classroom of the Future Competition by the Open Architecture Network. My partners are highly experienced and extremely bright. I am working with Ms. Kathleen Miles 6th grade class at 6th Period.The school is George Washington Carver Middle School in South Central, LA. These kids are amazing. Below is the existing classroom.
The first day of class with them was thursday. I asked "What is Architecture?" right off the bat. Here are the answers they kids gave me::
-designing things in your mind for people
-building stuff
- art/ designing stuff
- sketching what you want to design
-thinging about what you're going to make
- designing your ideas and places and new things
- create stuff
- using your imagination and drawing on walls
- building something different
- drawing something and people make it
- brainstorming and thinking about the future

What great definitions of architecture! If only architects used these more often. Ms. Miles and I then had the kids draw and write where they liked to study or learn and what would help them learn more. I have to scan the drawings in but here is a quick collage I made from some of their suggestions.
Today we worked on measurements. We will probably continue for a few more classes. We also started to draw the plan of the school. I will try to get the kids blogs to link to them on here. Like I said, they are just remarkable.