As Ashley wrote in our last post, on April 24th we joined the faculty of La Scuola in Miami at their soon to be new campus. Their buildings are being renovated and prepared for their move on the first of June. Miguel Perez, the husband of director and founder, Barbie Perez, worked long, extra hours to make sure that one room would be ready for us to meet for a professional development day for teachers. All of the teachers wanted to meet at this dream campus that will soon be their new home. We have worked with La Scuola for at least ten years. Barbie discovered us when we were in our St. Louis schools and traveled by car three times with teachers to attend conferences that we hosted. We have visited them for a day in April for the last four years on our way back from a family vacation of the west coast of Florida.
Every year, their work becomes more exciting and more beautiful. The teachers work especially hard to be co-researchers with their students as they embark on the exploration of a school wide question every year.
During the 2016-2017 school year, all the grades have focused on the question: What is migration? During the morning, three teachers presented their work and we all engaged in the protocol that Ashley reflected on in this post, to learn from and honor the teachers' and the students’ work.
The work of the first, second, third and fourth/fifth grade is featured in this blog post. The teachers and administration are clear about the literacy and science standards that their students are meeting and surpassing. The teachers also know that first hand experience with topics in field studies, authentic motivation and the desire to research, observational drawing as part of all their work, and preparing work for a pubic audience makes learning meaningful and lasting.
Each grade is working on a book about their research to inform and engage their community: the first and second grade will publish a set if cards about butterfly life, habitats and migration; the third graders are working on a book about their study of sea turtles; and the fourth/fifth grade have created media and media connections including an instragram feed, @lascuolabirders, about their ongoing study of birds in their region. They also produced a "How To" video about how to attract birds by making suet cakes. It is a high quality video! Take a peek.
We feel honored to work with La Scuola and thrilled to work with all of the teams of teachers with whom we work in schools where children and teachers are engaged in deep, meaningful learning, contributing to their communities, and learning to be stewards of the ecosystems where they live.