What Is It and Why Do It?
Second-grade students at Pulaski Elementary had been studying ecology. They used recycled milk cartons to create a scale model of their school and its surrounding neighborhood. The students photographed actual homes in the area, reproduced accurate scale models, and designed communities on the computer program, “sim City.” Because the neighborhood is being gentrified, the homes were changing during the course of the project. This led to lengthy discussions about neighborhood planning and how to create communities that were the right scale for children. The project culminated in the presentation of the scale model to the principal and a discussion about the need for a school playground. Six months later, the school did indeed build a playground. ( See photos)
Sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the Metro Program at Crane High School worked with filmmakers and video artists from the Community Film Workshop to dissect characters on TV. They analyzed African-American stereotypes in the media; examined what messages an image communicates through point of view, framing, lighting, focus, and color; determined their own messages; and then created their own story boards for filming. (See photo)
Third graders at Murray Language Academy studied birds, but they did much more than that. They took part in a multidimensional learning process that consisted of experiments (e.g., “ What is inside an uncooked chicken egg?”); movement, dance, and role-playing (e.g., moving like penguins and eagles); origami and other visual arts; a visit to the zoo; research on migration patterns; reading both fiction and nonfiction books dealing with birds; and descriptive writing. Using the knowledge they gained through this multi faceted curriculum, the students created original illustrations of birds that were then laminated for bookmarks.
How is learning happening in each of the classrooms and schools described in these vignettes? How are children engaged? What seems to be the role of curiosity and imagination in each of these classroom stories? In other words, what's going on here?