Research Behind Our Practices

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Overview

To cite all the resources that give shape to our program would necessitate teachers listing the myriad influences that inform their practice. This page would be far too long for any mere mortal to compile, maintain, or read. Instead, we have simply taken a look at a few big picture elements of our school and provided a sample of some of the research and ideas that are the foundation of the work we do. The list is by no means exhaustive and not intended to be comprehensive. If you find non-confirming research and/or data from your own investigations into educational practices, please share. We are, as our name implies, learners ourselves and benefit from looking deeply at what we do and why we do it.

Preschool and Kindergarten:

IMG_9312Our preschool (3- &  4-year olds) and kindergarten programs are “Play-based,” meaning they incorporate exploration, play, creativity, and choice time for learners as a central part of the day. Teachers utilize morning meetings to connect and introduce concepts, but students have ample time to concretely apply those concepts cognitively, socially, and physically in safe and nurturing environments. School for our youngest learners is safe, engaging, fun, and reflective of their unique interests. This curiosity driven approach to learning lays the foundation for a life long love of learning.

Project Based Learning:

IMG_4705Teachers develop and implement project based learning based on the developmental and academic needs of their students. Such projects give students authentic problem solving opportunities that naturally bring together multiple subject areas. Student motivation takes on a life of its own in these projects as students take ownership over the challenge and find ways to leverage their strengths to meet their goals. Students also find purposeful reasons to strive toward improving their areas of weakness.

Whole Child and Whole School:

IMG_4371The whole child at CLC refers to the social, emotional, physical, and intellectual worlds of each and every student. Teachers and parents work in concert to meet students where they are and provide developmentally appropriate educational experiences. Teachers attend to the character and values of the learners, their needs for connecting with others in meaningful ways, and respond to their physical development and intellectual vigor.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)

IMG_3661As with any quality STEM programming, it is near impossible to “unstitch” these practices from the daily work students do. In all grades students learn about the practices of scientists by doing science, conducting experiments, and making observations and drawing conclusions. Students (above our early childhood program) utilize technology in all subject areas in one form or another. Not only do they have the opportunity to learn to code and create websites, students also leverage technology to communicate through photography, graphic design, presentations, and keeping a blog. Students engineer as young as preschool when they build and construct complex blocks structures and all the way to upper elementary and middle school when they design, build, and refine solar cars to race regionally and statewide. All of which incorporate math in applied settings, not to mention math as a traditional subject area. The result? STEM learning can be found throughout the fabric of the school.

Service Learning

CRTPA 038Service learning at CLC refers to activities that both provide a real service to the community — meaning they address a demonstrable need — and provide a meaningful learning context with goals, objectives, and measurable outcomes. Because these opportunities may arise unplanned, not all service learning projects are repeated. Some service learning projects include partnering preschoolers with Alzheimer patients for a musical therapy program, ecosystem restoration projects, state and local lobbying efforts, get-out-the-vote advocacy, and planning, making, and serving food at a local homeless shelter.

Arts Integration

IMG_2223The arts are woven throughout the school day, year, and years. Using a project based approach, students often grapple with challenges and problems that necessitate creativity and collaboration. The net results of such practices are students with capacity to employ design thinking to create and innovate. Music, art (2- and 3-D), drama, and design are just a few of the many offerings.

Environmental Education

Ambassadors 05-06 (198)Students engage in multiple environmental education experiences throughout the year. They might include climate change investigation measuring the effectiveness of employing bio-char in garden plots, conducting water quality samples at local water bodies, exploring biodiversity concepts in ephemeral ponds in the Appalachicola National Forest, and designing, building, and using meteorological equipment to understand weather.

Middle School

IMG_1421We are an authorized International Baccalaureate middle years program. You can learn more about the program here. Below are some findings about the impact of the IB Middle Years Programme on student learning.