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Running Head: POWER LEARNING AND FUTURE SCHOOLS 1

Power Learning and Future Schools Vincent Velasquez MAT 674 August 23, 2011 National University


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Abstract This paper will show the importance of Visual, Numerical, and Textual literacy as expanded upon due to the information age of the 21st Century. It also will explore innovative new schools of the future and how technology is changing to modernize the way schools are designed.


POWER LEARNING AND FUTURE SCHOOLS 3 Visual Literacy I would use this in my class to emphasize points and add to learning, because I would want to avoid the “danger that these images will serve as decoration rather than information” (McKenzie, 1998). The goal is to add the information in visual form to enhance the information rather than to provide a stylistic detraction from it. This can be done by following the images up with questions regarding what the students have seen and pointing out things of interest. It goes without saying that the selection of pictures should be judicious in that when the teacher selects which pictures to add they should have already formed lessons and questions in mind rather than “something pretty.” Being a mathematics teacher, I can see how this can add to learning in that using graphs and diagrams can help, along with pictures that better illustrate a situation. A meaningful picture is the key here. Numerical Literacy In general we use numbers to create a snapshot of some event or place. This project had the example of census data, so to answer the question in this case we can look at numerical information about a place and make inferences. How this would work would be to compare this data with some familiar base, in this instance we can connect with others world-wide by comparing the statistics of some other lace with the base statistics of where we live. The idea is to know what the information is representing, as “we must teach them to recognize the questions which reside within such data collections along with the skills to pose and explore such questions” (McKenzie, 1998). The information can say a lot about a place, but as the other part of the question illustrates on this example where they ask what is missing, the numbers also do


POWER LEARNING AND FUTURE SCHOOLS 4 not say a lot of things. This is the decision that students need to learn to make when it comes to numbers. Textual Literacy About 20 years or less ago research meant pouring through vast amounts of books in order to find information. In the 21st Century, research generally involves using the internet and sifting through thousands of hits on a search engine. Someone literate in this may know to only search for those sites with .edu and use a special search that only has certain types of articles, and narrow it to full text only. Others will take what they get, and find fansites, organizations, references, and other fringe type of information that does not help them in the least. According to McKenzie (1998) “Students must learn to interpret and think about text so that important ideas come forward.” To be literature nowadays, one must know where to go for useful information, and what sources are just junk. Being well read not only means having read the classics, but being familiar with things going on in the world, which comes from knowing where to find information. Designing a Dream A community in Mill Creek, Washington was faced with wanting to improve education for its students. According to Jones (1997) “The project began when the school district found itself faced with too many kids, not enough classrooms or teachers, and the feeling that its schools were in danger of being outpaced by rapidly changing technology.” This led to the design of a school that would be able to be expanded upon in the future, and would use current technologies while keeping educational research in mind by providing things such as space for small group learning. The building and planning had the input of the whole community and the


POWER LEARNING AND FUTURE SCHOOLS 5 teachers and administrators along with organizations. They also planned to let it be used by the community after school hours. With so many people giving input, the project manager thought it may be a nightmare to handle since it would have a great deal of conflicting interests, but he eventually found that those wears were wrong (Jones, 1997). This is a great illustration of how when a community pulls together and addresses everyone’s needs, they can build an institution that is state of the art in order to help fulfill those needs. With everyone pulling together they were able to design what for them will be a school that will last a long time and be able to handle whatever needs that may arise. Buildings that Teach The schools of the 21st Century have evolved to be more than just buildings that students are in while they learn from a teacher. They use innovative designs to be places where students can learn from the buildings as well as inside the buildings. According to Taylor (1997) “the indoor spaces of the school are carefully planned to encourage learning and support the developmental needs of the whole person,” so that instead of a big open space there is variety. The different structures serve purposes, such as teaching about wind power and using the architecture to teach mathematics and making use of all space. There are no wasted hallways, but instead murals and artifacts for the students to learn from. The school becomes a place where even the community can go to learn. They are networked, and the “school” has connotations outside of the main building, such as also referring to partnerships and internships between outside businesses and students. The students learn from the environment and the environment is expanded, and in doing so the community is also


POWER LEARNING AND FUTURE SCHOOLS 6 connected through the school and is able to use its resources which are originally provided by the community. Building the Future The high school in Devenport, Tasmania boasts the “best planned, designed, and technologically advanced school in the world” (Nair, 1997). They built the school to replace the old school that had burnt down, and what began as a project to replace the old school turned into a school that won an award. What makes this special is that it started with a “collaborative planning process that focuses less on the building and more on the desires and aspirations of the school and community” (Nair, 1997). It is a design that lets the workspaces move so that it is not confined to the rigid constructs of just having classrooms. It is open to the community as well and was designed with best practices in mind to help the teachers to teach in this particular space. The lesson here is that one need not have the most expensive or elaborate designs, but must be able to change with the times. This school is built to be able to change to the needs of the students by letting them be able to learn everywhere, and in so doing the students are connected to the community and the rest of the world. Conclusion The transcending theme of all of these articles has been an attention to best practices in designing the schools. The schools have a design so that the teachers can break away from the rigid teaching style of speaking in front of an enclosed class and instead let the students be able to learn in an environment comfortable for them. In doing this, the schools make use of the whole building as a learning tool. Schools in the past have not been designed with learning in mind, and have instead just been a place for students to go to learn something from a teacher, but


POWER LEARNING AND FUTURE SCHOOLS 7 this has changed so that schools are now also a part of the learning. With these new types of schools students are breaking away from the confines of a prison like structure and are partnering with the community. A school not only helps the kids, but also all those who are a part of the community, and so there is a symbiosis between community giving to school and school giving back.


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Reference

Jones, K.J. (1997). Designing a dream: The ultimate high school from concept to completion. Retrieved September 7, 2011 from Edutopia. Website: http://www.edutopia.org

McKenzie, J. (1998). Power learning: Creating student-centered-problems-based classrooms. Retrieved September 7, 2011 from From Now On Website: http://fno.org/.

Nair, P. (1997). Building the future: Lessons from Tasmania. Retrieved September 7, 2011 from Design Share. Website: http://www.designshare.com.

Taylor, A.P. (1997). Buildings that teach: Design and learning go hand in hand. Retrieved September 7, 2011 from Edutopia. Website: http://www.edutopia.org


1.1 Velasquez Power Learning