We follow a Montessori-approach when teaching math to Investigators. Though topics are more abstract, students use concrete materials to develop a strong foundation in complex operations, fractions and decimals. Students progress through these topics at their own pace during math workshops, where teachers offer individual support as needed.
Math topics in this learning group vary widely, but usually includes fluency in operations, decimals, fractions, and ratio & proportions.
Science & History
Students in this learning group are moving beyond the simple act of exploring science and history topics. Investigators dig deeper into topics they can relate to and find ways to make connections.
We integrate these topics into afternoon "Expedition Learning", where teachers guide students through thoughtful discussions, help them investigate deeper, and connect important science and history to their lives.
An important developmental milestone of children in this age group is figuring out who they are. Ironically, children at this age struggle to talk openly about feelings and emotions.
Through the arts, students learn to express themselves in a non-threatening way. Art, music and theater give pre-teens the freedom to be creative in their own unique way. They can be expressive in a low-risk environment. The arts allow them to be messy, go with the flow, and move beyond mistakes. All of this plays an important role in helping Investigators learn who they are, and become confident young learners.
Pre-teens are discovering who they are and where they fit in the world. As abstract and logical thinkers, they are able to think more deeply about ideas, taking into account perspectives, multiple scenarios, and other complexities. When exploring the world, they move from physical curiosities to abstract ones. Their interests become more refined. They wonder how to create a complicated piece of music or how they might navigate a technical section of trail on a mountain bike. Children at this age spend significantly more time focusing on challenges and investigating the possibilities.
The curriculum for this learning group focuses on personal and academic investigation. We build on the foundations of literacy and math knowledge that students have already learned. We also continue to work on 21st-century skills like collaboration, communication, learning processes and life skills. Our ultimate goal is to help students learn how to dig deeper into their studies, navigate through challenges, and discover who they are.
By this age, reading and writing are usually fluent. We continue to teach writing using the Brave Writer model, working with students to write with more planning, organization, and purpose. Most literacy topics at this age are integrated into other classes, as children use literature to study a period in history or examine a theme. But students still work on creative writing in our Writer's Workshop on Thursdays.
Through literature circles, shared reading, independent reading, and integrated classes, students investigate many different kinds of literature. MindSpark teachers help them to not only connect with the characters and situations in the stories, but also help them investigate the craft of writing, use of language, and underlying messages from authors.
21st Century Learning
Throughout all classes, Investigators learn important 21st-century skills. Most classes are centered around one topic or theme, giving learning a real purpose. Students research to answer real questions. Students read to deepen learning. Students present to share knowledge. Through all of this, children learn how to work in groups, how to problem solve and think critically, and how to be creative. Most importantly, they learn that their questions have value and that they can use many different kinds of resources to learn anything they want to learn.
Whenever possible, we try to connect learning to real-life situations. In addition to exploring local educational facilities, we also bring in relevant experts to do activities with the students.
Some resources we have partnered with in the past include:
"Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else."
--Sydney Gurewitz Clemens
--Sydney Gurewitz Clemens