Wade Whitehead is an amazing educator who has been initiating and leading a number of educational efforts that are excellent illustrations of the North Star Approach. Not only has Wade developed a North Star curriculum for his third grade classroom, but he also uses The North Star as the foundation for the Roanoke City Summer Honors Program that he directs. Read on as Wade tells us about these North Star Happenings and more… and believe us, there IS more! Wade is one teacher who is just getting started!
Roanoke Summer Honors Program
The North Star was used as the foundation for the 2000 Roanoke City Summer Honors Program. Summer Honors is an individualized, interdisciplinary, accelerated program for grades 3-8 that typically includes between 80 and 150 kids and lasts five weeks. Summer Honors serves a diverse, eclectic population. The only requirement for admission to the program is an interest in it. Kids are provided opportunities to map out their own voyages... to choose... and to succeed. Key to our mission is student choice... autonomy... self-determination... and responsibility. Many of the program's goals are more affective than academic. We get kids from all walks of life... and allow them to bloom at every opportunity. Our curriculum is driven by any and all available technologies and
resources... film, digitalia, text, conversation, history, journals, currency... whatever we can get our hands on. This year, we offered courses in Claymation, Photography, Sculpture, Painting, Geology, Topography, Flight, Logic, and many others. The North Star was and will be the perfect mortar for every one of our cognitive constructions. The whole is centered around the truth that every kid is unique and can achieve. Period.
Mr. Whitehead’s Room (third grade)
In my own third grade classroom, I use The North Star as the base for curriculum, management, and philosophy. My students know it well. They adopt it. They believe, sooner or later, that they are learners... that their journeys are unique and special... that their dreams can come true. I'm simply there to help, almost as a fellow learner. We take turns guiding one another, and, in the end, we're better for it.
The North Star has provided the identifiable, concrete reference point for the thousands of different creations, attitudes, learning styles, and preferences that my students and I share. It's our common ground. Parents and administrators listen with amazement when kids talk about being creative, having fun, AND meeting standards. It can be done. It's a matter of throwing curiosity, expectations, flexibility, and respect into a big pot, stirring them around, and enjoying what comes out. The North Star has become a springboard for my students and me... and has had more impact on learning than I can describe.
I'm just about finished with my fully developed North Star Teacher Training workshop(s), which I hope to put into action sometime this fall. I hope to bring The North Star and its message to other teachers... as many as possible.... and to help them realize the full potential their students possess.
The North Star stretches people. It isn't what they're used to. But it's what works... and it's what we need.
Feel free to e-mail Wade if you'd like to learn more about his classroom, Summer Honors Program, or upcoming North Star workshops.