During the first week of school I was very skeptical about how well the partnering pedagogy would work. I debated switching out of Age of Ex and into Medieval World, which is another more traditional history course that is offered at OES. The first project in Age of Ex got introduced and I felt swamped. I knew there were no deadlines besides the one where I had to present. And to be honest, that scared me. A lot. Having a partner helped me get over the initial shock of this drastic change.
As the course went on into the second week I wondered how many other people knew or practiced this new way of teaching. I knew there were more students besides my class that practice partnering because of our #Quad103 blogs. The #Quad103 blogs are blogs from various schools in various parts of the world that write posts. These posts are then published and our class, among other classes, comment and leave feedback or questions for the author. With my budding curiosity I decided to do some research about other schools in the US using partnering.
After a couple articles that didn’t mean much to me I came across an article written about a physics class at Forrest County Agricultural High School (FCAHS). This school is a math, science, and technology school, similar to OES, which offers a physics course that uses the partnering pedagogy. Tommy Sumrall, the physics teacher, runs a class that seems to be chaotic, but in reality it is just partnering in full effect. The article explains that his classroom is very noisy, but he is quoted saying, “To me, it’s a wonderful noise because it shows that the students are interested in learning,” (“Success Story: New Teaching Methods Create Order From Chaos” 2008).
I like that the teacher acknowledges his students interests. Sometimes in the abyss of lectures and tests I feel that traditional teachers get distracted from the true goal of creating life long learners. By sparking a student’s interest they will be more likely to engage in the teacher’s class. Another heart-warming aspect of this story is the fact that Mr. Sumrall was granted 50,000 dollars towards buying new technology to use and to have the kids use in his physics class. This funding will help widen the possibilities for the students and the partnering teaching method.
After reading this article I have deepened my understanding of the effectiveness of partnering. In the article, Sumrall tells a story of, “a student who had a zero homework average because he didn’t do his homework—he didn’t even try. But he loved labs, because he was good at using the technology to set up the experiments. He was proud of his proficiency in the lab, and he was able to learn the concepts from doing the lab work. And he actually did pass the class!” (“Success Story: New Teaching Methods Create Order From Chaos” 2008) Yes, I can read and understand the concepts of partnering. Big deal. The thing that really made me pro partnering was reading success stories like this and knowing that this new way of teaching can reach all types and accommodate to all learners. It is really nice to know that there is more than one path I can take for learning the material and that I have to power to choose my course over this year. I hope Cisco continues to grant money to more high schools around the world to enable the partnering pedagogy to reach more students.
“Success Story: New Teaching Methods Create Order From Chaos.” Cisco Systems, Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Oct. 2012. <http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/docs/education/pedagogy_tommy_sumrall.pdf>.