Our Students Collaborate to Learn
Collaboration is another method we use to teach life lessons through purposeful education. Learning how to work with others is something every adult needs to know. No one operates completely alone. Teaching children how to collaborate at this level gives them the skills they can build on in middle school, high school, and beyond.
WE PRACTICE PROJECT-BASED LEARNING
Inquiry based learning is question/problem driven. Students are given voice and choice. There is plenty of interaction and talk. Students assume total responsibility for the learning by conducting authentic investigations. The learning is purposeful, and the work is collaborative. Strategic thinking is put into practice and project-based learning is cross-disciplinary often involving every subject – from ELA to Science to Social Studies. This captures the interest of even the most resistant student, as you go deep into a subject you increase the opportunity to excite all involved. Students are the knowledge creators and the teacher’s role is that of a coach or facilitator. Assessments are performance–based, not a standardized scantron tests!
WE TEACH EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
This is not the 1900s. The concept of a teacher standing at the front of a classroom and lecturing on and on should be left in the past. Our teachers will instead pose a question to the class – take the example “What are some ways to calm down when you are upset?” The class will break up into groups and together work out the answer(s). This allows for individuals to contribute their knowledge or opinions. What is effective for Jacob? What does calm feel like to Jessica? They learn from each other, which is confidence building. When they’ve come to a conclusion, the group will make a presentation to the class. Together they will present their responses to the question. Students are rewarded with the confidence that they can figure things out for themselves! (Or, maybe sometimes with a little help.)
WE COLLABORATE THROUGH PLACE-BASED LEARNING
Forcing a student – especially a younger student – to sit still all day is the best way to make sure they are not taking in information. We get our kids moving often throughout the school day. We might have them stand up and physically act out a problem – such as a math problem. They collaborate on the problem, deciding together who should represent which part of the question. An example is this math question: A zookeeper feeds 7 fish each to 2 hippos and 4 fish each to 2 alligators. How many fish were eaten at the zoo that day? The group of students would decide who is the zookeeper, who is the hippo and so on. They have fun acting out the math problem and they also figure out the answer (22 fish). Much more fun than when a teacher writes the problem out on a chalkboard, right?
OUR STUDENTS DIRECT THEIR COLLECTIVE EDUCATION
Throughout the school day, our teachers find ways to put various decisions to a class vote. It might be whether they should move the lesson outside? Or should they study reading or writing first? Collectively the group decides the direction of its academics. This is another example of purposeful education. It builds confidence because it gives kids a voice. They also learn to respect each other’s opinions. It is not just all about me! What does Katie want to do? Well, maybe I’ll go along with that today and tomorrow it will be my turn.