Journey Elementary School. Presented by: Sam Lasco and Lisa Sutton. The Purpose of Our School.
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Sam Lasco and Lisa Sutton
Children have an enormous amount of potential and curiosity. Our school’s purpose is to cultivate a child’s understanding of the world and helping them make their own theories and philosophies to explain how it functions.
Our philosophy is of Socioconstructivism line of thought. Knowledge is constructed as a system of relations. Children are able to learn from an experience within a broader system of relations be it with the teacher, peers, parents and the environment. Education is derived from the Latin word “ex-ducere” which means to bring out. Children’s knowledge needs to be brought out, using their own natural curiosity and not filled in. (Taken from Loris Malaguzzi)
The school community works together in creating a passive learning environment to engage children in meaningful activities. We educate the whole child, which means we consider and respect every child as a unique individual, socially, emotionally, culturally, physically and intellectually.
“All children have preparedness, potential, curiosity, and interest in engaging in social interaction, establishing relationships, constructing their learning and negotiating with everything the environment brings to them.” Lella Gandini
“...we learn from people around us with who we identify.” Frank Smith
“...aim of education ought to be conceived of as the preparation of artists.” Sir Herbert Read, an English art historian, poet and pacifist. Concurred by Elliot W. Eisner
Here at Journey Elementary it is important to connect the home life with school life. Many of the scheduled curriculum centers around a rhythm of home for children.
“L’Atelier was originally conceived as an art workshop for children. The word atelier, which derives from the French language, means work room or artist’s studio. Historically, ateliers have served not only as a place where seamstress, carpenters, painters, sculptors and other artists could create their products, but also as a place that could offer inspiration and answers to their questions. We believe research and self expression are linked to the original concept of atelier. This concept led us to create a place where children explore visual art, movement and music as tools to represent their ideas and feelings.” (borrowed from L’Atelier School in Florida)
Self contained classrooms Monday through Friday. There is a transition to special classes for Friday in the Fourth and Fifth Grade levels.
The teacher, Ms. Macri lead a group of kids and parents on the rug in a morning stretch and salutation to start the day. Several children parents are following the teacher in a child’s pose yoga stretch while five other children are at a round table talking amongst themselves. And two girls lounged in the loft reading a picture book. On this day, we will follow Nick.
Nick runs in to the classroom and rings the triangle for breakfast. Students and parents line up at the door to proceed to the lunchroom.
Ms. Macri leads the way for the students and parents to the lunchroom. On the way, the hallway has a display of the latest work and documentation of several projects from other classrooms. The children’s museum displays a collection of sculptures made from found objects.
Upon entering the dining room, the room is brightly lit from the windows lined along one wall of the room which look out onto the playground of trees and shrubs and various jungle gyms.
Parents and children sit along a linen covered table with napkins and silver ware set out. In the middle of the table bowls and plates are filled with scrambled eggs, bacon and muffins. Parents and students pass the bowls around the table and take their share. Small talk is going about. The interesting comment is the current news.
Some students finish before others and take their plates, silverware and napkins to bins on a cart. They head out through the two glass doors adjacent to the wall with windows to the gardens. The ones who are assigned to clean up, clear away the large bowls of left overs and table cloth and return them to the kitchen. They run out with the parents to the garden.
In the garden, students are tending to the vegetable patches with handmade signs for each type of vegetable patch. Some students have flowers growing instead of vegetables by choice.
The students investigate and pull weeds around the patches. They fill watering cans to water the patches. One student has discovered a caterpillar in the tomatoes and calls for all the kids to see. The caterpillar is talked about by the parents and teacher. Students are commenting on the way the caterpillar moves and who is going to pick it up. Nick says, “Let’s squish it!” All the parents say no don’t do that. It is so important to keep the caterpillar because it will change later into a butterfly. The teacher asks, “Do you think the caterpillar is a danger to the tomato plant?” They don’t know it is true. Nick says, “We should put it with the flowers.” So one of the parents takes the caterpillar to the flower patch.
The parents say their good-byes to the kids and Ms. Macri. The kids head back to the classroom through the dining room. Which has other students eating and chattering away.
The children gather on the rug as part of the routine after lunch in a circle. Ms. Macri describes what she has observed in the garden. Some of the students chime in about how it will be interesting to see a butterfly. Ms. Macri asks the students how they think the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Several students raise their hands and give their own explanations from either what they know or have heard or just from their imagination.
Then, Ms. Macri says she has a book about butterflies in which she can read to the students. She reminds them to listen. She begins to read.
The students spend some time after the story to talk about the book. Ms. Macri hits record on a tape recorder to document the dialogue for later reflection and planning.
After the story the children gather at the round tables for an activity. This activity has been sparked by Nick’s interest in building. Students take Styrofoam, wire, toothpicks various other materials to build their own models of jungle gyms. The students after they are done building are asked to draw the model and give it a name. The students sound out the and write how they think the name is spelled. Some students become antsy for recess while others are still working. Some students want to stay while others want to go outside to play on the playground. The teacher and the co-teacher split up the group. Some students go out to play for recess. Nick is one that decides he would really like to stay and build some more.
Nick has noticed the progress of construction of a building across the street. In his free play time he has watched the building and the activity around the building by staring out of the window. He has been focused on building with unit blocks to mimic the building across the street. These buildings have been very elaborate with many entry ways.
Ms. Macri have been documenting his conversations with other students surrounding the construction of the mock buildings in the play area.
Language is a time to learn to speak and experience another language. Ms. Macri’s classroom is the Spanish language development class. The students are placed in a scenario set up by role play areas by the co-teacher. This time it is a restaurant setting and students are sitting at the tables with menus showing pictures of different foods. The teacher asks the students in Spanish what they would like to eat. A student will point to the menu, the teacher will give them the name of the item in Spanish. The students will repeat it. Ms. Macri will move onto what they would like to drink. The students know drink and eat from previous lessons.
It is close to lunchtime and two other students are sent off to prepare the tables in the dining area. All the talk of food has made the children hungry.
Children return to class from lunch and have an hour to play freely about the room. Children learn from their play. Nick chooses to work on his buildings, which the teacher has photographed the progress of several of his pieces.
The teacher calls the students to the center after clean up and announces the centers around the room. There is a science discovery center where children can try a simple experiment like how many paper clips does it take to reach the top of the table to the floor. Other centers mentioned are painting on easels, making puppets with spoons, playing board games and the reading corner in the library.
Students spend a good hour in their centers. Nick has chosen to figure out how paper clips reach the floor. He is to write his prediction on a chart and begin the experiment. Ms. Macri walks around the room to observe the children in their play.
The last part of the day is a practical life lesson. This is a discussion on how children can care about themselves and others. Ms. Macri gives a scenario for the children to discuss what they can do. The scenario on this Monday afternoon is a person drops their wallet in front of the student and keeps walking. Ms. Macri draws the picture of the scenario on a dry erase board. The children talk about what they can do. Ms. Macri writes their answers.
It is time to go home and children prepare to line up the door. Nick has had a busy day here in Ms. Macri’s kindergarten class.
Behind the scenes: It is 7:30 and selected students (6th grade is the first year this class is permitted) who are in the cooking program. The students prepared under guided tutelage a healthy breakfast consisting of fruit smoothies and banana pancakes. The master chef is a graduate of The Chopping Block Cooking School who has won numerous awards in health, cooking and fitness. The students do every thing from preparing, serving, and planning the menus. The first bell rings 7:45 this gives faulty and student time to finish up and prepared to start movement. 7:50 second bell student are permitted to walk to their classrooms.
8:00 the starting bell, immediately followed by the pledge of allegiance and school news. Every Monday morning student take out there writing journals and write about current news. It can be local news, culture, or foreign affairs. I usually give them 15 minutes and then depending on whose turn it is we will discuss there topic. I have a newspaper for each student. After our discussion we have research time, time spent looking for background knowledge. Our classroom has its own network so each student as it own keyboard and monitor. 8:40 the bell rings and some classes have movement. Our school has taken into account time spend for discussion and preparing students for time management. In 6th grade the have the first 3 blocks of time for Social Studies, Reading and Writing. During the Reading/Writing time on Monday we stay with the theme of using the newspaper for current events, culture or foreign affairs. The discussion started about Chicago traffic. After a heated debate and time spent doing research the student settle in and put there idea and new thoughts on paper. They are working on there web or first draft.
At 10:10 and the bell ring and students leave to go to art classroom. At 10:15 the students should be in there seat and as you walk in the art class you can see students’ works around on the wall, ceiling and stationed on the floor (this is the showing gallery). This year students will be introduced to new and challenging art concepts. Students will begin to master your skills in painting, drawing and ceramics. Art History will play a large role in our class.
At 11:00 is lunch. All meals are prepared by the students. The lunches include one entrée, fruit, vegetable, grain choice and 1% low fat milk or non fat chocolate milk. The student sit in the designated areas and clean there area when they leave.
At 11:35 student are back to there classroom and it Math time. A major goal of 6th grade mathematics is to provide students with a solid foundation for exploring and understanding algebra and geometry concepts as they move from elementary to middle school. Students will explore geometric transformations, the area of non-rectangular figures, area models, and the coordinate system. Fractions, their operations, and their relationship to decimals and percents are another central topic. Other areas covered are problem solving, data analysis and probability, integers, rational and real numbers, measurement, number sense and number theory, ratios, and proportions. Communicating about mathematics, both verbally and in writing, is emphasized during instruction. Students will be encouraged to reason and communicate with each other about skills and ideas in mathematics that lead to conceptual and computational development. Much effort is made to link learning to real life applications of mathematics.
The bell ring at 12:05 and the student move to the science lab. Scientific Method will be applied to Earth Science and students will be studying; The Earth· Minerals-characteristics, identification, formation· Rocks-types: igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic· Natural Resources-use & conservation· Fossil Fuels-classification, identification. Hi-tech Science labs equipped to meet the needs of the 21st century student. Every student uses the applied science and technology lab called, the "Smart Lab"™ from the Creative Learning System. Computers are used as tools for exploration. Students use integrated technologies, CBL and MBL equipment. Internet and intranet is used for data acquisition and research is stressed. This is doubled blocks so student can utilize all the equipment and apply what they learn to life applying situations.
At 1:35 student are now preparing to study music. The basic concepts and techniques involve mental, muscular, visual, and aural skills and are a relevant contemporary extension of concepts and skills learned in elementary school general music. Students will engage in performing, organizing, interpreting, and communicating information using the language, skills, methods and materials of music. Students will perform and describe a wide variety of musical styles, genres, and cultures. The general music classroom offers a challenging, adaptive, and nurturing musical environment in which students can expand their musical horizons and enrich their musical knowledge.
At 2:20 students will be scheduled for physical education and health. Students will have instruction in physical education for three quarters of the year and instruction in comprehensive health education for one quarter of the year. The physical education program includes exercise physiology, biomechanical principles, social psychological principles, motor learning, physical activity, and skillfulness. The program themes are fitness and conditioning, coordination, throwing and catching, striking, speed, timing and accuracy, leisure/recreational and dance. Students will be introduced to activities/units that meet the criteria for these themes in the approved curriculum guide. The students will receive health instruction in the areas of tobacco education, nutrition and fitness, safety and injury prevention, family life and human sexuality, and disease prevention.
At 3:05 student return to there homeroom and prepare to be dismissed at 3:10.