180 days of learning

180 days of learning

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Voyaging into Unchartered Waters

September 20, 2012

Hi! My name is Melanie Cooper, and I am a learner in Plymouth’s School of Inquiry (a.k.a. New Tech). It is a school within a school and opens a lot of new doors for the students and teachers who participate.   It has impacted my life not only in the classroom, but outside, in my personal life, as well. To be honest, at first I was a little hesitant to join this new program, seeing as this is the first year that kids in Plymouth have been able to participate. However, as the school year has started and we are a few weeks in, I am already starting to see the benefits of taking part in this wonderful program.

Just one of the many ways that this program has affected me in my school life is my perspective on things. I have always loved school, and I think that that will continue to happen, even after I have completed my education. New Tech has made school even more enjoyable for me and many others. Starting out at the high school can be a little nerve racking, especially if you are going to be one of the brave few who are voyaging into uncharted waters with the School of Inquiry, but for me it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. My friends and I both feel we have a lot more privileges than the regular school students. However, with those new privileges comes new responsibility, and it seems to me as if everyone who is in the program understands that and acts upon that understanding in an appropriate fashion. I have yet to see a major act of rebellion by the students who have been allowed these privileges. When I say privileges, I am referring to things such as going to the bathroom or getting a drink of water.  We are trusted to not abuse this privilege and we are allowed to get up and walk to a signout sheet and then just go. Giving the students this leeway seems to be making them act in a more mature fashion. It may seem silly that high school kids consider being able to sign out instead of having to raise their hands to go to the bathroom, but to us it isn’t. We are used to having to ask permission for almost everything, and the fact that we are trusted to do this on our own, makes us more independent and teaches us to handle ourselves in an orderly and well mannered fashion.

Another way that this program is impacting me in my school life is our learning environment. There is this area that we call the “Flex Space,” and basically it is a sort of lounge for us kids to go and work in.  Inside of that flex space there is a lot of electronic equipment, things that are very cool and interesting for the students to be able to use. These new technology opportunities are helping to expand my horizon for my technology navigability capabilities.

Participating in this new program has also affected my personal life as well, in particular participating in self-discovery and reflection.   An example of something that has impacted me in this way is when we took a test in one of our classes. It was 198 questions, and the results were a list of our 24 strengths. The creator of the test, Dr. John Yeager,  says, “that he does not believe in weakness, but in lesser strengths instead.” When I saw some of my strengths I was surprised, but I also wasn’t at other’s strengths. After we discovered our strengths, we did various activities in class to build on those strengths. Specifically, one of the activities was when we learned about how to “spot” strengths in others. I use this whenever I work in a group in school, but also whenever I work with other people in my own life out of school. When I am talking to my family, or really anybody, I make a conscious effort to try and guess what their strengths are.  In doing this I am allowing myself to better get along and work with people.

My name is Melanie Cooper and I am a member of the School of Inquiry’s Class of 2016

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Great job Melanie! I am proud of you! Mrs. Felke

Jennifer Felke

September 20, 2012

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