MindAligned at South Toms River Elementary

 In Arts, Education, Home Page

by: Jeremy Grunin

On March 20, I had the pleasure of being able to experience a Professional Development Day at South Toms River Elementary.  Having three kids currently in the Toms River School System, I’ve heard a lot about these but up until this point, it really just meant that my kids were home from school!

This training was of particular interest to me as it was for a project near and dear to our hearts, MindAligned.  MindAligned is a modern approach to teaching which utilizes the arts to develop learning opportunities that students really sink their teeth into.  The Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank is spearheading the effort but there are countless partners helping to bring these pilot programs to life in schools throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

The training I witnessed taught five different strategies and the teachers had a blast.  My favorite was “Machine.”  In this exercise, the teachers were presented a scenario whereby the trainer challenged them to build a robot that could save the world which was in imminent peril.  In order to make this happen, they needed to draw and give specs for a three-part robot whose volume was exactly 100 liters.  The teachers needed to draw upon their knowledge of volume formulas while engaging their creativity in building a super cool robot that would bail mankind out from an existential threat.  The teachers laughed and enjoyed every minute of it!

Now imagine that same activity with elementary school kids.  They may not even realize they are learning and that’s exactly the point.  These strategies have delivered amazing results in a huge school district in Austin, Texas and judging by what I witnessed in South Toms River, I can’t imagine we won’t see the same results here at the Central Jersey Shore!

Stay tuned for more MindAligned updates!

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