All these events happened in one week at Conservatory Prep.The students learned about Rorschach in psychology class and then attempted to design and interpret their own ink blott paintings.
Conservatory Prep started a new club this week called Student Projects. Each week a different student leads the club in an area of interest. This week Ashley led us in bead design and the students made very elaborate necklaces.
During African Studies class students were learning the different beats of drumming used in traditional rituals.
No Homework? What Kind of School is This???
A day at Conservatory Prep is exciting, busy and hard work. Students often comment that at their former school they would sleep all day in class while the teacher presents information and then spend the entire night learning the material for homework. Very little thinking is involved. Most of the time they are memorizing facts or filling in the blanks. At Conservatory Prep, days are filled with the students learning and doing. Very little lecture and we don’t use fill in the blank worksheets. Students learn collaboratively in small groups and independently while conducting a lab experiment, writing a play in Spanish, choreographing an African dance based upon tribal customs, determining the compounded interest rate for an outfit to be paid off over 6 months, researching the political system in Ghana, presenting a PowerPoint presentation with music for a psychology concept and teaching fellow classmates how to design their own jewelry. This is all in one day!
After school, we want the students to unwind, process the information and also be involved in community service or an internship. We don’t feel the need to give homework just to keep our students busy. Students MUST have a minimum of 80 community service hours or internship hours per year. Many of our students have much more. The purpose is to give back to the community and for the students to develop their passions. Our students have worked in synagogues and churches, helped abandoned animals, assisted at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, music studios and edited film for community service projects to name a few.
Students taking courses for Advanced Topics credit do have to work on their projects outside of the school day. This gives the high achiever ample time to prepare for each class without undue stress. Advanced Topics credit allows the student to delve deep into an area of interest instead of busy work.
As most of our assessments are projects and presentations we are often asked how are students prepare for the SAT and ACT exams for college. Conservatory Prep is in partnership with Educational Pursuit in Cooper City, FL. Included in the tuition, students are able to participate in the numerous ACT and SAT classes after school and on the weekends. Where can you find our alumn now? Brandeis, Florida State University, Florida International University, Florida School for the Arts, Stratford University in the U.K., University of Michigan, Johnson & Wales and the the New York Film Academy to name a few.
The end result of our no homework policy is a group of very busy students who find they can now manage their day, be admitted to a good college and don’t come to school with headaches and stomach aches each day.
Conservatory Prep’s Edluministic Learning ideology has a focus on research skills. Students need to learn skills to help them to be successful in college and the workforce. Research, synthesis and analysis are essential skills to master. We are very fortunate to be continuing our partnership with Nova Southeastern University and the Alvin Sherman Library. NSU is providing us with monthly workshops with their research director and the social studies teacher will be following up by applying the skills learned each month.
Could ADD be just another learning style?
By Wendy Hirsch Weiner Ed.D.
Charismatic, independent, creative, problem-solver, leader. These are all desirable characteristics we would like to see in ourselves and in our children — in theory. More often than not, at some point individuals with these attributes will be labeled with having Attention Deficit Disorder. Generally, their minds are spinning with creative ideas and enjoy the company of others. They are often disorganized and their ability to embrace change is often viewed as impulsive. Later in life these individuals are seen as charismatic and entrepreneurial. However, at the age of seven or ten, the behavior is simply seen as a ‘problem’ and one that needs a solution. Yes it is true that the backpacks are filled with crumbled sheets of paper and a moldy banana, socks seldom match and don’t even talk about the clothes on the closet floor. These kids don’t seem to mind and can’t understand why it is such a big deal to others. They made it to school today without hurting anyone. Isn’t that what really matters?
Several years ago a gentleman in his early thirties came to see me to discuss his recent diagnosis of ADD. Scott had been an average student in high school and college, was very creative and an excellent problem solver. For the past five years he had been a manager for a very prestigious hotel. Scott was continuously complimented on his ability to ‘put out the fires’ as problems arose and keep the clientele happy. He performed so well, that he was promoted to a desk job. Sitting behind his desk all day with piles of paperwork was difficult for him. He felt overwhelmed, frustrated and bored most of the day. Scott came to see me to discuss strategies to overcome his newly diagnosed condition. After much deliberation, he confronted his boss and asked if he could go back to being the manager. His supervisor was relieved, as the position had been difficult to fill. Scott’s ADD symptoms had ‘disappeared’ and he continues to be the revered manager of the hotel.
Scott’s experience and profile is not unlike the dozens of students I have worked with over the past decade. Just as there is a place for individuals who are organized, follow directions well and can sit in their seats and memorize material, there is also a place for individuals such as Scott. I have become more and more convinced that many individuals with a profile with ADD actually possess not a neurological disorder, but a different learning style and a different way to process information. Attributes of ADD need to be acknowledged and addressed in the curriculum and celebrated for its positive qualities. This may not be the person you want to organize your closet, but it is the person you would want as your troubleshooter.