What is the framework for our curriculum?
Such a huge question! We certainly invite you to grab a cup of coffee and make time to really delve deeply with us… we LOVE the conversation. Meanwhile, we will attempt a cursory explanation of a very expansive subject.
We are fully developed in our capacity for a broad age span. Our first six years are divided into three two-year bands; our last three years are treated a single unit. We began with a framework used by the International Years Primary Programs (IB). The broad questions that define that framework are addressed each year, using topics that befit a children’s developmental levels and interests. There are six such over-arching question-themes which are easily connected to science, social studies, and the arts.
Who are we?
Where are we in place and time?
How do we organize?
How do we communicate?
How do we share the planet?
How does it work?
However, being a school that is based on inquiry, we added to the framework another opportunity to more fully explore and support the sciences (lab and field).
In each broad brushstroke, we have identified a number of enduring conceptual themes. (example: conflict and resolution, patterns, systems, cycles, interdependence….) We also include major essential understandings to emphasize with each “lens.”
From there, we have listed a growing number of possible studies in which we can observe, develop, and apply related skills and knowledge. (human migration, Mini-beasts, magnetism, genetics, The Renaissance…) Each of those areas can be deconstructed into specific case studies (For example, “human migration,” can be studied through causal lenses: Pioneers of the West, The Trail of Tears, Russian Jews in the early 20th Century, Slavery, The Great Hunger… while “Mini-beasts” may unfold as insect anatomy and taxonomy, the use of pesticides and natural deterrents, pollinators for healthy crops, spiders, monarch butterflies, honey bees… There is so much to know and so much that will make each study personally interesting with the value added of relating to grander-scale ideas and further investigations. Sometimes, within one larger frame, we choose to study several examples for comparison and contrast, or to include the diverse interests of our learners. The more case studies, the more broadly the essential elements and enduring concept can be examined and understood, and then reapplied elsewhere.
Finally, we have developed the instructional strategies, documentation, assessment, resources, materials, and field trips that assure we are reaching different means of learning and presentation. Our evolving guide is displayed on the board in our faculty meeting area, along with plans and visual reminders of previous work. A rotating poster display houses our documentation of studies to inform and inspire our future work. It is our intent to create varied formats to collect and share our curriculum stories as we continue this very dynamic work of translating skills ad conceptual development into the daily lives and learning of our faculty and scholars.