Feel free to type your comments on email and send them to me - I can post them online for you!!! Thanks!
I have had the privilege of seeing the Finnish education system through Mr. Solarz's lens as an educator. I think he represents excellence in our country and reminds us that we do not have to travel overseas to observe best practices in the classroom. His classroom family is so lucky to have him!
I appreciate your comment Martha - thank you so much for taking the time to post that! :)
To parents of students lucky enough to have Paul Solarz as a teacher,
For more than 20 years, we’ve been hearing about “education reform.” More often than not, the messengers have vested interests in the outcome of that reform and the real change that happens in the classroom is nothing more than an incremental modification.
The 21st Century Classroom as taught by Paul Solarz represents what we believe is a fundamental transformation in both the skills taught and the method used to impart knowledge to students. What our daughter has learned this year goes well beyond the facts and figures normally taught in fifth grade. She’s learned how to think independently, to raise critical questions, act as a member of a team, and most important to make judgments based on sound analysis of facts.
These are the skills and behaviors that undoubtedly will prepare her for junior high and beyond. More important, the skills and behaviors learned as part of the 21st Century Classroom are tools that will be essential to the future of all students regardless of their academic or career goals. Like it or not, the world has shrunk dramatically and today’s students will be competing for jobs and academic placements not just with others from their class, but with students on every continent. Paul Solarz’ incorporation of the 21st Century Classroom along with an emphasis on technology usage is an ideal preparation for that emerging environment.
We would highly recommend encouraging your student to take full advantage of the opportunity to be in the 21st Century Classroom.
Vince and Sherry Vittore
To whom it concerns,
Last night my daughter asked me “What love language do you speak?” When I probed, she explained that different people share and receive messages in different ways and that it is beneficial to interact with others in a way that they will find most accepting and motivational.
I’m 43 and I help teach this team-building concept and collaborative technique to adults--sometimes even management-level employees--in the workplace. Even so, I still have a hard time remembering to adapt my approach to best meet others’ needs.
She learned this concept from Paul Solarz, an exceptional 5th grade teacher with an unconventional approach to educating children and an extended definition of what a 5th grader needs to know in order to be successful in middle school and beyond.
Mr. Solarz calls his program “21st Century” learning. In a way the title is a misnomer because it implies a sole emphasis on technology. Although it is true, Mr. Solarz incorporates technology into all that he does, probably more so than in the average classroom, his curriculum extends well beyond ipads, weebly sites and Google docs.
Mr. Solarz’ teachings also go far beyond the basic reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.
And his lessons in character extend well beyond the basic “five pillars” and the Golden Rule.
Rather, Mr. Solarz has created a classroom where communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and curiosity are key . . . where interdependence and interaction breed innovation . . . and where responsibility, risk-taking and reflection are the new fourth, fifth and sixth “Rs.”
My best comparison is that Mr. Solarz’ 21st Century learning is like bringing a private liberal arts college education to the grade school level in that his approach extends beyond the tactical and inspires thoughtful analysis, reflection and questioning.
His holistic approach and person-centric techniques have led to results that are to be commended. Our daughter managed all her homework and high academic achievement this year with little-to-no parental oversight; she tested 10 points higher than she was predicted to on her placement tests and she is frequently told she is “wise beyond her years.”
Having said so, 21st Century learning was not the only key to our daughter’s success this year. Good old fashioned love, mentoring and kindness from a respected leader had a lot to do with it too. Mr. Solarz practices what he preaches. He is a co-collaborator, mentor and friend to his students. He has gone out of his way (literally MILES out of his way) to show his support for our daughter.
Mr. Solarz’ un-ending kindness and validation gave our daughter the confidence she needed to excel this year. In short, he knows her “love language,” and he spoke it well.
I am writing this letter on behalf of Mr. Paul Solarz. I was fortunate that both of my daughters, MacKenzie and Kylie, had him as their teacher. I feel he has given my children the instructional strategies and tools to be life-long learners. He has challenged them in every aspect of their education. At conferences I was always so impressed that he knew my child as well as I did. He cares enough to make sure he knows each student’s strengths and weaknesses.
I was able to go in and help in his classroom, and that is where you could really see what a wonderful teacher he was. His lessons were innovative, creative, and made all children want to learn more. The use of technology that he has incorporated into his classroom is far beyond what most teachers are doing. I love his student directed classroom for some of the activities they did. These activities gave students the confidence to talk, interact, and express themselves openly in a group setting.
As Kahlil Gibran once said, “The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind” I feel Paul Solarz has done just that. He has given them the knowledge and wisdom to be challenged to their fullest potential.
I just thought he should be recognized for all of his hard work, dedication, and love for his job.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.