Today we welcome to the Mosaic Blog two faculty from The Instituto Cumbres and Prepa Anahuac, a private, K-12 school in Oaxaca, Mexico. In this blog, Diego González and Jorge Méndez write about their school’s journey to designing and building active learning classrooms for their students. Diego and Jorge also write our first bilingual Mosaic blog. Today we will publish their blogs in English and Spanish. Many thanks to Diego and Jorge for telling their story in two languages.
The story they tell today begins with a competition…
“Like many things in life, everything started with a dream.
In 2018, a third internal competition was set forward by the . The contest awarded an economic relief package to the winning school that is part of the Bachillerato Anahuac network. The competition’s purpose was to construct physical spaces that would facilitate innovative learning practices, this could be accomplished through the pioneering design of the on-campus area. This site would also serve to promote different ways of learning, teaching and interactions. 
In order to obtain said resources, all participating schools had to present an applied research project. In general, it was an excellent opportunity to research and spend time on.
The true intention was to provide elements such as ALE, which could change the reality of the students, in our case from southern Mexico.
We started by making a digital tour in libraries around the world trying to find elements that supported our idea.
We have a STEAM-Makerspace laboratory, where the children and youth can make small ship prototypes which they draw in K3 and print them using a 3D printer to apps where the students show their classmates the human body and all the systems which it encloses through an augmented reality.
Nonetheless, there was a feeling that a step in the process was being omitted, that said, students and teachers arrived at the laboratory without having interiorized the projects to be created.
Collaboration with Stakeholders:
At this point the call seemed an ideal opportunity to propose a project where the young scholars could think, reflect and design the products that they would create by contributing a social impact.
Through the virtual tours of the libraries we found wonderful publications about ALE form different continents… Finally, we found an investigation. Made by the University of Indiana, that marked our path. It gave us signs of clarity, we found methodology and tools of investigation that could hand us a way of measurement for example of the level of impact of the cooperation that ALE has in the students.
Submitting the Project:
And so with the team that had been formed at the institute we continued writing the proposal for the investigation protocol. We conformed one of the 5 institutes that made it to the final round, where the protocol was taken apart into a more in depth and rigorous file. We received a visit on behalf of the contest jury. There were points of improvement.
The methodology proposed was the following:
- Make an investigation of the mixed methods that integrate in a meaningful manner the qualitative and quantitative focus, looking to enrich both types of data y p|rovide a solid evidence (Johnson y Onwuegbuzie 2004, 21).
- With the previously mentioned, triangulate a checklist about the behavior in the classroom with quantitative and qualitative evaluations around the perceptions of the students (student surveys) and video vigilance of the real behavior within the classroom, tools developed by Morrone, A. S., et al. (2014)
- In addition to the precursor HOALE will be used, validated and implemented by the university of Indiana and Birdwell, T. et. al. (2016) to help the professors design and make effective pedagogy of active learning for their students. The targeted population of our investigation involves a participation of students and teachers which conform the high school community. On average 17 professors and 142 students
- The investigation will take place for a period of two years and involves the application of the instruments in each of the four semesters, this comprehends the school years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.
Building the Classrooms:
After including the methodology in the final project, with much joy we received the news that the school had obtained the funds for the construction of the ALE.
Therefore, in the school year 2019-2020, with received the blessing of initiating ALE, we adjoin some pictures of the space, which was inspired by three of the learning spaces architypes that identifies David Thornburn (2013); Cave, Watering Hole, Campfire and an investigation space.
- Cave environment: Promotes thoughtful work, detached from distractions, comfortable for independent work. Also used for tutoring work.
- Watering hole environment: Creativity is fomented here, an exterior space that promotes encounters between equals for informal learning and small teamwork.
- Campfire environment: This area permits the interchange of ideas, debates, discussions and presentations, class work.
Investigation Area: Allows beginning to develop projects that have a social impact and that accompany the process of maturity-formation as leaders of positive action.
Within ALE it is pursued that our model of personalized learning pedagogy is established, by promoting emotional and intellectual development in the student and having an active role in the determination of the learning content.
In this context, a bond between the university of Indiana and the Mosaic program oriented to the development of Active Learning Environments has been generated. At the beginning to know some impact evaluating instruments of these spaces in the development of competencies of the students and teaching practices. Within these, the following are found.
- Tool for ALE observation
- ALE pre-observation checklist
- Chronological data
This bond with the University of Indiana also permits us to partake in direct conversation with the faculty of the institute and those in charge of the program to share experiences that benefit the students in these learning environments.
The dream of having an ALE continues despite the pandemic, like a seedling germinating now in the distance.”
The authors are: Diego González, who specializes in K-12 education, and Jorge Méndez, who specializes in language teaching with a speciality in English.
- Birdwell, T., Roman, T. A., Hammersmith, L., & Jerolimov, D. (2016). Active learning classroom observation tool: A practical tool for classroom observation in active Learning classrooms . Journal on Centers for Teaching and Learning (Vol. 8). Obtained from: http://openjournal.lib.miamioh.edu/index.php/jctl/article/view/157/83
- Morrone, A. S., et al (2014). Coffeehouse as Classroom: Examination of a New Style of Active Learning Environment. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. Obtained from: https://doi.org/10.1002/tl.20084
- Johnson, R., & Onwuegbuzie, A. (2004). Mixed Methods Research: A Research
- Mednick, Sarnoff A. . (1964). Learning. Englewood Cliffs. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
- Red de Colegios Semper Altius (2018) 3rd. Contest for the allocation of funds for construction or improvement of STEAM-Makerspaces Labs and/or Active Learning Environments Labs for Anáhuac High Schools.
- Thornburg, D. (2013) From the campfire to the holodeck: creating engaging and powerful 21st century learning environments. John Willy & Sons.
 3rd Contest for the allocation of funds for the construction or improvement of STEAM Makerspaces Labsand / or Active Learning Environment labs in the Anahuac High Schools.
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