I, too, like to think of the Academy experience as an educational journey. Every day I witness students taking steps on their own particular path, discovering things in the areas of learning as well as discovering things about themselves. Perhaps the most inspiring part of the journey most of our students eventually take is in their “trips” back to previous classrooms. There are almost too many examples to mention but here are just a few:
• This year’s 2nd grade classes spent time researching and learning about Native Americans in the four regions of the United States. As part of a culminating activity, the 2nd graders, in small groups of three or so, presented their research information to our Kindergarten classrooms. The students presented at Morning Meetings without the aid or supervision of their classroom teachers. I had the good fortune to see one of the presentations and was impressed with the 2nd grade’s level of understanding with topic — I was as interested in asking questions as were all of the Kindergarteners!
• First grade read the gingerbread man stories they authored to our Junior Kindergarten classes and acted out gingerbread man poems with puppets for the enjoyment of all (one of the 1st grade classes also read their gingerbread man stories to a 4th grade class, as well… so sometimes the journey jumps forward!).
• A 4th grade student (pictured above) presented information about Italy, including the Coliseum in Rome, in four presentations to both 3rd grade and 4th grade classrooms. She had visited Italy on a family trip this past summer and researched more information about the Coliseum to augment her own recollections for her presentation.
• Several Middle School students are part of a club called “Middle Schoolers Give Back.” They spend one period each week helping in the classrooms of younger students, assisting them with activities and projects, practicing reading and math, and also helping teachers to organize and implement lessons and activities.
As you can see, Academy students are encouraged to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways. More importantly, there are encouraged to share what they have learned with others. Older children working with the younger children serve as one of the most effective motivators our students experience and it’s why it is alright for the journey to go backwards and why the journey can be so rewarding.