Accelerating the Learning of All Students: Cultivating Culture Change in Schools, Classrooms, and Individuals

By Christine Finnan; Julie D. Swanson | Go to book overview

4
Accelerate = Challenging All Students

Sara can't wait to get to the music practice being held before school. In keeping with the school's theme on cooperation, her class wrote an opera describing cooperation during the journey in James and the Giant Peach. Sara is playing the role of the silkworm, and she wants to be sure she knows all of her lines. Although she is typically shy, she is excited about singing in front of the entire school. Sara's teacher works closely with many of the other teachers in the school, especially the art and music teacher. The art teacher helped the students figure out how to use math to draw large insects to scale. The music teacher taught them about opera as an art form and is working with them to put on their production.

Sara's mother is pleased with the progress Sara has made at Westview Elementary School. She is happy that the school does not separate students by ability because she knows that Sara would not be placed in the advanced class. Sara comes home excited about what she has learned. Sometimes assignments are difficult, but Sara is always able to get help from her teacher or from classmates. Not only have all of Sara's teachers expected a lot from Sara, they have gotten to know her and have helped her to develop more confidence. Sara, her brothers, and her mother all feel like they are part of a family at Westview Elementary School.

Sara is experiencing accelerated learning, but the context in which her learning is accelerated is very different from that of Anna and Richard. Where Anna and Richard are identified as special and separated from other students to receive accelerated learning, students are not separated by ability in Sara's school. Each classroom teacher provides a challenging, learner-centered educational experience to all students. Gifted students, average students, and slower students learn together at Westview Elementary; everyone in the school is committed to finding ways to challenge every student. The primary difference between Sara's school and the schools attended by Anna and Richard is that energy is directed to-

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