Ron comes from a very small town in Massachusetts (5 teachers for the elementary school) which has a long tradition of excellence for their students. In his book, An Ethic of Excellence, there are stories of the amazing projects (expeditionary learning) his elementary students have completed - Such as; Conducting a radon study for the town; water quality testing all the homes in the town; Everything you'd ever want to know about snails and; a complete gem study including managing and operating a store for jewelry from the gems.
How do they do it? There is no top down management. Teachers participate in the hiring of new teachers and principals. Teachers are empowered and given time to collaborate. There's no such thing as one and done. Students continue to work until they meet quality expectations of their fellow students and community. You see, their work is public and at the beginning of each project, they get to see examples of outstanding work to guide them. Did I mention they give no grades! The only tests they give are the state required ones. There is no mapping to the standards - but all the disciplines are wrapped up into the massive class projects they complete.
This should be an interesting discussion. For any of this to take root in our district. If we want it to take root, the board and administration will have to give up a lot of control, and do it pretty soon.
Click here to read the introduction to his book.
Click here to read an article about Ron from the Harvard Graduate School of Education
Click here to read an edutopia article on the high standards at Shutesbury Elementary School
Ron Berger on the power of Critique:
Ron Berger on the Power of Critique from Susanne Shavelson on Vimeo.
Click here for a link to the video. Click here for a link to the video.
Berger Interview on Doing Good Work
Click here for a link to the video.