It started small, but now I have company during most of my free lunch times at school. Word got out about a couple of student gatherings, and now there are regularly scheduled "groups" having lunch with me weekly.
What can one do? The students want to keep learning.
That's right. I have students coming to me to set up groups that will keep them learning during their lunch time.
The largest group is my "TED Academy" group. This group started when one student asked me if I knew about "Kahn Academy." I told her I did, but was more interested in how she knew about it. Kahn Academy is an amazing—HUGE—repository of instructional video, but definitely geared towards higher grades. This was a 3rd Grader asking me this question.
After a brief discussion, she asked me if she could come show me some of the videos she had watched. I happily agreed and told her to bring several friends. The next thing I knew, most of her class was at my door the next day.
We watched a video from Kahn, followed by an amazing conversation. I asked if they'd be interested in checking out some of the videos over at TED as a possible alternative to Kahn for future lunches (due to their grade level), and they were eager to check it out.
So now, every Friday, I enjoy lunch with a group of 3rd graders while watching an amazing TED video and listen to their incredible discussions that follow.
Their discussions are:
- filled with personal connections
- show deep understanding of what they just watched
- connected to global issues
- focused on how they can make the world a better place, based on what they just learned
- completely independent of me
Usually, I work right through lunch (updating the school's website, finding parent links, planning for lessons, etc.). This is so much better.
I definitely feel like I'm getting a break in my day (TED's done all the work). I just eat my lunch, watch the students digest and then dissect the videos, and enjoy their discussions more than they will probably ever know.
Learning doesn't have to stop because of assigned time slots, and in fact, we know it doesn't stop (we're learning all the time). It is a world of hope and celebration when students approach a teacher and ask for additional learning resources. What more could a teacher ask for?
At this point, the students are going home, previewing the TED videos, and bringing in recommendations for the group. They are entirely in charge of these learning lunches. I just provide the computer and the projector. And the cafeteria provides the food.
There are so many opportunities for continued learning on the web for students asking for more. There's TED, there's Kahn... and here's a link to a great article called, "10 Open Education Resources You May Not Know About (But Should)" that I just came across giving you even more resources for continued, open learning.