MIDDLE SCHOOL STORIES IN THE MAKING

Laura Sandefer

January 28, 2013

The work of our middle school students has me on the edge of my chair. Soon, they will be out in the world working at their apprenticeships. Great stories are in the making in each of these Eagles’ lives. I wanted to share one story with you from our sister school in Guatemala. Jeff spent time there last week and learned the following from a proud Acton parent:

A year ago, Maria Teresa entered Acton Academy Guatemala, so shy that she hesitated to speak in front of strangers. Now, just twelve months later:

1. She is simultaneously and successfully taking courses in Udacity; Coursera and EdX, while serving as a consultant for her prestigious local university and some Silicon Valley VC’s on distance education.

2. She recently gave a TEDX talk on the future of education.

3. She is now the youngest person ever invited to Peter Thiel’s 20 under 20 conference for the best and brightest youth in the world.

4. Most importantly, she is convinced that even Khan Academy is “like putting PDF’s of the Encyclopedia Britannica online” because the teacher still determines and sequences the lessons. She believes that a Wikipedia revolution is coming where individual students will source, curate and sequence videos, problems, simulations, projects, real world challenges and other learning experiences, with each student finding the pattern that works best for them, for a particular knowledge area or skill.

Her analogy is DNA. Sequencing chunks of educational material is like sequencing genes; each individual has a unique sequence that works best, but you can learn a great deal from sharing and studying the similarities and differences in the patterns, and how they vary between different people. She already has designed a website where students are sharing and comparing different sequences for different topics.

Maria Teresa is in negotiations with two California VC firms to expand the site.

She is fourteen years old, living in Guatemala.

An interview with Maria Teresa: http://ideamensch.com/maria-teresa/

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