Reimagining the Schoolhouse
Each year, our second-grade students study Japanese culture in a theme-based unit of study.
In language arts, they read the Japanese story, Peach Boy, and then take the story to the stage complete with Japanese accompaniment of Orff instruments played by several non-cast members of the class. In art, students create Setsubun masks, cherry blossom paintings, and carp kites while in science they learn about tsunamis and the weather patterns around Mount Fuji. They showcase their learning in an exhibition that involves oral presentations, physical demonstrations, art galleries, and music performances. They spend many hours transferring instruments and materials between rooms and setting up temporary exhibitions just for the showcase night.
Research shows that when students are able to see how facts and ideas connect with one another across subjects, they construct meaning and when they’re able to communicate that meaning through a variety of disciplines like art, music, or writing, they’re learning is further reinforced. The practice of integrating curriculum across disciplines is so effective because it helps learning become more relevant for students. And, it takes a special school environment to immerse young people in this learning process and bring it alive.
Creating a highly collaborative curriculum is very challenging in small, highly structured spaces. In order to help us create a more integrated curriculum, we need spaces that allow learning to flow from one subject to the next, we need to imagine spaces that aren’t just dedicated to math or science or music. We need larger, more creative spaces that allow students to dive deeper into their learning by creating understanding, showcasing their new knowledge, and connecting ideas across disciplines and with other learners.
Through the “Reimagining the Schoolhouse” campaign, we are renovating the second floor of the CE Building to provide a new space for the Lower School art, music, and library programs that will enhance the student experience through more integrated learning.