GUERILLA EDUCATORS IS DEDICATED TO REALTIME EDUCATIONAL BEST PRACTICES IN ACTION. WE ARE A GLOBAL LEADER IN THE DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF EFFECTIVE PROJECT BASED LEARNING ON THE FRONTLINES IN AND OUT OF CLASSROOMS. WE ALSO CONNECT EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES PLANNERS WITH THE TEACHERS/LEARNERS WHO USE THOSE SPACES.
have an alternative to those in the movement afoot to, um, what's the
word... oh yes! extort money from the professional Philly sports teams
to pay for School District of Philadelphia sports programs. It is setting up a false dichotomy that if the mean corporate heads of the
Phillies, Eagles, 76ers, and Flyers don't succumb to this shakedown the
implication is that they somehow don't support the innocent District
children who want to play sports. The alternative to this notion that the less fortunate are somehow entitled
to other people's honestly earned money would be to set up a non-profit
fund and those who wanted to do so could, instead of spending their own
money to buy tickets, tees, memorabilia, etc would donate the cost of
the tickets, etc into the Student Sports Fund. Get your own skin in the
game! Since the Phillies stink this year, I might even donate the cost
of a couple of tickets to such a fund. If they start to compete though,
This video highlights the newly designed P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, located in Gainesville, Florida. Fielding Nair International (FNI) was the Master Planner and Design Architect for this Project and their educational vision is apparent throughout the physical facility. Take a look:
As part of Fielding Nair International's 21st Century Schools initiative in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, FNI educators Chris Hazleton and John Sole were privileged to visit the Isidro Sanchez High School in the beautiful city of Luquillo. The high school has undergone major renovations designed to enhance teaching and learning. With Mr. Angel Gonzalez, Deputy Director of the Public Private Partnership Bank, we were hosted by Sanchez Principal, Ms MaryAnne Maldonado. At the time of this post, the school is about 2 weeks from completed construction of all re-design work. Take a look...
Click on the link to see a video of Rafael Cordero Elemental, another FNI designed 21st century school, in Catano, just outside of San Juan.
In honor of the 4th anniversary of my Guerilla Educators blog, our first entry, posted below, was an interview conducted by Christian Long who, at that time was the online editor of DesignShare. His first question was,
If you had to pick a single educational technique, learning style, or pedagogy to drive the future of school design, what would it be?
My response centered immediately on Project Based Service Learning and prompted me to ask a series of 12 rhetorical essential questions in return. The questions also became the genesis of the Guerilla Educators blog and ultimately became an article onDesignShare, a premier educational facilities website. The questions also formed the basis of a long term, in-depth video based study centered on the merits of Project Based Service Learning as one of the most powerful and effective teaching and learning methodologies for ALL students and why school architects should design educational spaces to accommodate this type of pedagogical focus.
Today, Guerilla Educators conducts a "conversation" around Educational Commissioning at Educon 2.2. Our conversation description is as follows:
teaching and learning can, and perhaps should, take place under a tree.
With this in mind, our conversation will focus on the essential
non-difference between the physical facility (the school) and the
teaching and learning that takes place inside of those spaces (the
School). We will explore and build on the idea that the educational
facility can be used as a 5 dimensional (including time and
cyberspace), hands-on teaching and learning tool to achieve academic
and civic objectives.
Our Essential Question then, is:
In a wired world unfettered by the geography of place, how do we design teaching and learning spaces to accommodate the education that takes placeoutside of the physical walls of the "school"?
The Educon 2.2 list of attendees is quite impressive with 500 of the world's most innovative educators coming together in Philadelphia on January 29, 30, and 31 at the Science Leadership Academy High School. There will be more than 50 conversations covering the gamut of 21st century teaching and learning best practices. John Sole, CEO of Guerilla Educators has the privilege of leading one of those conversations focused on Educational Commissioning and Project Based Learning and using the physical facility, the school itself, as a 5 dimensional (including time and cyberspace) teaching and learning tool. Look for us on Saturday, January 30, Session 3 at 2:30-4:00 pm, in Room 209.
In early August, one of the last emails I received from my dearly departed friend and colleague, Dr. Jeff Lackney
was the continuation of an ongoing conversation we were having about the nature of "Educational Commissioning". At that time, Jeff exhorted me to "focus like a third grader". I suggested that educational spaces should be tested to support a variety of
pedagogical and social goals. Jeff came back and said that my thoughts
were essentially 1/2 of the equation and that the task was then to describe the
physical spaces that would support those education based objectives and then
monitor effectiveness of the spaces, data-based on student achievement.
This, I think is the essence of Educational Commissioning. Looking back over those communications, what emerges is that I was, in effect, developing a set of experiential best practices against which to both design teaching and learning spaces and then test the spaces for effectiveness against those criteria on relevant data pertaining to student achievement in those spaces. Dr. Lackney's point to me was that the criteria were "only half of the whole" and that he then wanted me to describe specific space templates that would be catalysts for student achievement based on the criteria. While I strongly agree that educational spaces should be flexible enough to accommodate a range of teaching and learning activities and even to evolve over time, I also think that this flexibility should have focused, consistent academic and civic goals; i.e. to prepare our students to have rich, rewarding and FUN scholastic careers in preparation for them to be literate, productive citizen/leaders. So this design agility should always be tested against whether the teaching/learning spaces supports these goals. The criteria I have established are based on my "11 Hallmarks of Effective Teaching and Learning". In this regard then, the spaces should support:
student academic and civic engagement
student ownership in their educational processes
student achievement in grade appropriate proficiency of curricular and standards based objectives
student proficiency on nationally normed tests
flexible technology applications
Higher Order Thinking Skills
Project Based Learning
On his School Studio Blog Jeff came very close to the idea of seeing the educational facility (the school) and the academic and social development that takes place inside the physical structure (the School) as an organic whole but he still started with the physical design concepts as being the primary driver rather than exactly the other way around. In Jeff's view, teachers should be Professionally Developed to learn how to use the teaching and learning spaces effectively. My view is that educational facilities planners/designers/architects should have Professional Development about the mission and vision of the School and about the pedagogies specific to the needs of the school. In this way, they can then more effectively design spaces that will be in synergy with the goals and objectives to achieve what I call the Essential Non-Difference between the physical facility and the teaching and learning going on within the walls.
As far as which space templates should be developed to accommodate the Hallmarks, my position is that world class teaching and learning can take place under a tree. This statement does not discount the vital importance of creating physical spaces that support the Hallmarks. It does take into account that rich, rigorous, and rewarding scholastic experiences can happen regardless of the spaces in which they take place.
This workshop session: "Design Patterns" is based on the the book, "The Language of School Design: Design Patterns for 21st CenturySchools", by Prakash Nair and Randall Fielding. The book is a seminal work because it defines a new graphic vocabulary that synthesizes learning research with best practice in school planning and design. But it is more than a book about ideas. It is also a practical tool and a must-have resource for all school stakeholders involved in planning, designing and constructing new and renovated schools and evaluating the educational adequacy of existing school facilities. Visit the Fielding Nair website to see world class examples of their design projects from around the world.