Visiting Brightworks

Visiting Brightworks

Visiting Brightworks

Arriving a day early for the NAIS Conference in San Francisco, our team took the opportunity to visit the Brightworks school. Greeted by Founder and Education Architect Gever Tully who wrote the book 50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do, I was immediately struck by the open layout and the sense of freedom and possibility in the school.

Visiting BrightworksVisiting Brightworks
Visiting BrightworksStudents can access tools to construct prototypes of nearly anything one can imagine. The more dangerous tools are placed higher on the wall, if only to give pause to a student before proceeding to utilize. Visiting BrightworksVisiting Brightworks
Visiting Brightworks We were given a tour by one of the older students who was working on an airplane when we arrived. There are no classrooms, only spaces. No classes nor grade levels, only ‘bands.’ Students gather in spaces to following specific learning arcs and/or their own learning passions and curiosities.Visiting Brightworks No lockers, only cubbies. Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Visiting BrightworksA stack of “Lord of the Flies” shows that classical literature has a place in every school.
Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Spotted some familiar sights like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and some unique sites (we don’t have our own school dog yet).Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks I felt right at home once the students brought out the drone. They let me try on the FPV (First Person View) goggles which puts you in the front seat of the aircraft. Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks

My visit to Brightworks was both inspiring and uncomfortable. I’m so glad we had the chance to tour and learn. As someone who grew up (and taught) in fairly traditional Atlanta schools and who currently works in a school that leads in innovation, I had a lot of questions about how certain logistics worked.

Inspired by folks who are trying a different approach to educating children, I left wrestling with the healthy tension between letting curiosity (a natural motivator) drive learning v. a prescribed, strict set of require content (learning outcomes). I think there is a need (and space) for both.

What do you think? When designing a lesson, unit, classroom, school, or any learning environment, what is the best mix/balance of content and curiosity?

Passion Based Learning

Passion Based Learning: The “Other” PBL

Middle School students in Grades 7 & 8 are piloting an incredible opportunity with an incredible educator. Over a dozen students voluntarily signed up for a 6 week course (2 days per week) stayed after school to pursue their own learning passions. Led by a volunteer teacher, Mikala Streeter, students are diving deep into a whole range of topics they they chose including coding, cooking, stop motion video making, origami, and guitar.

passion1 passion2 passion3 passion4 passion5

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 2.47.17 PM

How might we create more opportunities like this for our students?

Resources: 
I Build Learning Experiences by Mikala Streeter
Why and How to Let Students Decide by Alfie Kohn