February 9, 2009 By Andy Opsahl
Photo: Carol Broos, music teacher, Sunset Ridge School, Northfield, Ill.
Carol Broos offers no rubrics in the technology classes she teaches at Sunset Ridge School in Northfield, Ill. Her classroom's learning environment is a free-for-all -- students do whatever assignments they want. All her students receive A's at the end of the academic quarter, whether they complete one project or 10.
Broos doesn't even have professional training in technology. She's a music teacher, and frequently doesn't even know how to operate the software she provides students. Her technology class is connected to her music program - each student learns to use music composition software. However, projects go far beyond that realm, and into Web design and graphics programming.
Apparently her unorthodox methods are effective. Many of her students work above their grade level and win national technology awards. Broos recently won the 2008 Golden Apple, a teaching accolade viewed by many as the most prestigious in the Chicago area.
Broos insists a traditional classroom environment in which the teacher gives the same lesson to the entire class can cripple technology education. She begins each class with five minutes of instruction; then students work on whatever projects tickle their interest.
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