Thursday, January 10, 2013

Through an 8th Grader's Eyes

 We took our 8th Grade picture for the yearbook today.  I figured it was a good excuse to touch base with them and see how things were going.  I joined them at their lunch tables today, telling them I needed help with my blog (only one student asked, "What's a blog?").  I posed only one question to them:

"In the eyes of an 8th grader, how could we improve our schools?"

Today was a 1PM Early Dismissal for our district, and "8th Grade Lunch" was following by nothing but a race to the buses, so I knew I wasn't asking at the best possible time.  However, I was both surprised and impressed with the responses.  Yes, "better school lunches," "shorter classes" and "nap time" all surfaced as responses, but take a look at some of the other things our 8th graders had to say:
  • More time to study in class
  • More time for bigger projects 
  • Give us more independence
  • Less talking by teachers
  • Study halls for all kids so we can get help from teachers
  • More choices in the classes we take
  • More Exploratory classes 
  • More art classes - and photography
  • Classes that go further and do more
  • Rewards for getting good grades
  • Get rid of Standards Based Grading because it is to hard
  • Get graded for our homework
  • New math textbooks
  • Outside recess for 7th & 8th graders
  • More modern technology
  • More digital stuff so we don't lose papers
  • Laptops because some kids don't have computers at home, or share with brothers and sisters
  • Shorter school days (which led to) some countries go longer (and) some some schools go all year
  • More choices for sports
  • More time to be with our friends
  • Let us take our bags to class so we don't need to go to our locker
  • Bigger library
  • More security
Perhaps the response that best illustrates why we need to purposefully and intentionally listen to kids came in one of my last conversations.  After thinking for a moment, a young man stated, "Well, you know, when I want to learn how to do something at home, my dad and I go to youtube.  We should do more things like that."  We often hear how kids have changed over the years.  Personally, I don't think kids are all that different than they were a generation ago.  However, the world today's kids live in is much different.  They way the learn is much different.  The question is, are schools keeping up?

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