Thursday, May 14, 2009

Emergent Curriculum Success in a Traditional School

This presentation was by several people from the Stanley Clark School, including their atelierista, which was nice. I took pages and pages of notes and had to leave to meet the person I drove to the conference with when the questions continued past the end of the session.

I was mostly interested in how students who start with a Reggio-inspired preschool experience do when they get to grade school. In this instance, Kindergarten is done at the preschool and the children move to first grade in the more traditional part of the program. The teachers told us that the kids from the preschool did fine academically but as they got older their current teachers report that the children from the preschool are very curious and ask a lot of questions. That's not always what elementary teachers want, but it is what the preschool teachers hoped would happen.

The school environment uses natural materials and the children can get to almost everything themselves. They use see-through containers, including glass, so that children who can't yet read can see what's in each container. The decorations of the room are child-created and the teachers strive to create a beautiful environment that reflects the people inhabiting it.

The curriculum is built around what the children are interested in. It's emergent and project-based.

Each class is documented daily, which lots of images. The children's work is displayed in a way that demonstrates value for the work. In the 3/4s class they make progress portfolios. The 4/5s class makes DVDs and interviews students on topics studies. There are also keepsake portfolios for parents.

They went on to discuss several of the projects the children have worked on this year. Hearing from the atelierista on how she integrates the project work into the art studio was very interesting.

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