Inspired Learning is arts and nature oriented with emphasis on creativity and learning about the world through experiences. Project-based learning is more progressive and exploratory than traditional school, and includes learning through the arts, interesting projects, research, hands-on activities, and lots of reading together! Each year will vary depending on the age and interests of the students, but here's what you can expect:
Science and Social Studies
Science and social studies topics are based on state learning standards and student interest, with emphasis on global awareness and caring for nature. We focus on inclusivity, social justice, and empathy. Our student library is filled with beautiful, high interest books for self-guided discovery during each unit, and many of our daily read-alouds are on topic with what we’re learning in the content areas. We have writing projects to accompany what we’re learning, along with hands-on activities, art projects, and performances.
Our science emphasis is on caring for nature and understanding the scientific method. Hands-on science provides opportunities to:
· Observe, experiment, collaborate
· Incorporate all aspects of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math)
· Understand our world through our senses
Our social studies emphasis is on compassion, empathy, and
understanding other cultures:
· History through a lens of social justice and anti-racism
· Cultural research and art
· Current events
· Celebration of diversity in all forms
· Student interest-based projects
Reading and Writing
In addition to reading and writing through the content areas, students read and write independently every day. I sit with one student during independent reading for the whole week so we can build reading skills together. I also read to the class daily, during which time we pause and discuss. Reader’s theatre is a student favorite, which secretly improves fluency, comprehension, and speaking and listening skills.
Reluctant readers and book worms alike thrive, as we engage in various reading activities throughout each day:
· Independent and buddy reading
· One-on-one guided reading
· Daily read-alouds
· Reading in the content areas
· Reader’s theatre
· Special events like book club, book bowl, and spelling bee
Morning Journal is a daily block of free-write time. Students can use it to journal about their lives or write creatively. We also have larger writing projects throughout the year, such as holiday themed creative writing stories, personal narrative pieces, newsletters, poetry, collaborative writing, etc.
Students plan, draft, and edit meaningful work, and celebrate their writing and the writing of their peers. Spelling, grammar, and vocabulary are integrated through writing projects such as:
· Creative writing; both independently and collaboratively
· Mindful journaling
· Pen pals, letters to authors
· Research and journalism
· Book reviews, opinion pieces
· Crossword puzzles with content-related clues and words
Math topics are based on Common Core standards, and are approached via a combination of:
· Traditional methods and Singapore math
· Hands-on manipulatives
· Logic problems and brain teasers
· Card and dice games
· Open ended problems
· Creative projects
Nature and Arts
My curriculum and instructional methods center around my deep respect and admiration of the earth. I love sharing this passion through various activities such as nature walks, gardening, art projects, and modeling sustainability. Some of my favorite books to read aloud are those with environmental messages, and I love bringing what we've learned about plants and animals to life through documentaries. Art is integrated throughout each unit of study, including math!
Social Emotional Learning
Starting each day with morning meeting (greet, share, activity, morning message) provides children with the structure and routine that they crave, along with a cheerful, social way to begin the day building community. It's also a time during which we can discuss anything going on with the group and practice problem solving and conflict resolution skills.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and mindfulness practices are a major focus throughout the day and year. Many Snack and Story books are SEL based, some of which lead to follow-up activities during the learning block. We also practice connecting to our feelings during afternoon journal, when we reflect on our day with Peaks and Pits. We practice yoga and meditation and integrate breathing exercises when needed throughout the day.
Our Responsive Classroom focuses on these core values throughout the year:
· Celebration of diversity
· Intrinsic motivation
· Self-awareness and reflection
· Academic, creative, and social risk taking
· Patience and perseverance
· Problem solving
Organizational and Life Skills
Personal responsibility with daily living tasks is a gateway to independence! One of the true beauties of a microschool is the flexibility that allows us to slow down and take learning opportunities as they present themselves. Because we are on our own schedule, the kids can take the time to learn self-sufficiency; whether it be packing up their belongings at the end of the day, or taking a few extra moments to tie their own shoes before recess.
Organizational skills are another aspect of learning that can often be cut short in a typical school, due to large class size and scheduling. Our daily schedule is posted on the wall, which states what we're doing for each block that day. Students love referring to it, and it helps them to naturally learn how to use our analog clock to tell time.
We also refer to our wall calendar on a daily basis, and discuss upcoming plans and dates, both personal and on a class level. Students get their own monthly and weekly planners to write down homework, reminders, and any scheduled events in their lives.
Samples of Student Work
Click each picture to see student work