Saturday, February 4, 2012


After a few years of planning, writing grants, researching, etc., my school was awarded charter status.  This seems to be the new trend in education...and it is awesome!  Our school chose the School Wide Enrichment Model.  To make a loooooong story short, the entire faculty decides on a "cluster" that they would enjoy teaching.  We each choose what to offer the students based on what we are interested in.  One day a week (for an hour and a half), the students attend the cluster that they have chosen.  They spend their cluster time learning through their interests!  Since the students list 5 clusters that they would like to be a part of, we are able to place them in one of their choices...and keep our numbers down to 14 or less per teacher.  NICE!  Here are a few of the clusters that are being offered right now.

*Dirt and Worms   *Footloose (dancing)   *Jewelry Making   *CSI    *American Girls    *Dogs and Cats    *American Heroes     *Poetry     *Pottery     *Games (chess, etc.)    *Cross Country    *Cupcake Creations    *Jr. Master Gardeners     *Karate    *Chocolate Creations    *Book Cooks   *Photography    *Cross Stitching    *Sewing    *Drama    *My Little Pony (all about horses)    *Computer Creations

~If you are still reading this long post, keep reading!  The best part is coming up.~

Since I looooove taking pictures and editing them, I offered a photography cluster. 
Even though I teach 1st grade, I offered it to 3rd-5th grades.  It is like a breath of fresh air when these "old" students walk in my room.  They can tie their own shoes!
Each cluster is responsible for coming up with their own authentic audience.  We are encouraged to find an audience outside of the school.  It can be as simple as having a poetry reading night at a local library...or helping others!  My cluster students came up with the most precious idea!  We are going to head to the zoo to take pictures of the animals.  Once we edit and develop them, we will be donating them to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta!  We will have them blown up to 8x10's or larger.  The students will frame their pictures and we will deliver them to the hospital.  Then, they will be hung in the children's rooms.  One of my students said, "the sick children will love getting to see zebras, elephants, and giraffes.  Hopefully the pictures will make them smile and forget about how sick they are."  To me, THAT is real learning. 
Over the few months, we have a lot of work to do.  Fun, meaningful work!
Like I said, we have a lot of work to do!  I can't wait to share their photos and experiences with you!


  1. That is so so so awesome! What an amazing idea and program. Can't wait to see how they turn out!

  2. And by the way...what is that program exactly? Are you a charter school or part of a public system? I'm curious to know more about it. We have an after school program, where they also take classes that interest them, like ballet or video production, but only after an hour of tutoring first. Is that something similar?

  3. wow, lorri, you're totally speaking my language - I too taught in a charter school!!! it was actually one of the first 5 in massachusetts, all 5 opened 15 years ago and this year there are 72 in all - a successful endeavor!! charter schools are so amazing, aren't they?! so much freedom and flexibility and as a result there is so much more passion and excitement ... LOVE that you get to be a part of all that too - and really love what your cluster topic is - how fun is that?! ENJOY!!!

  4. That is awesome! I work in public education in NOLA, and charters here are huge -- so much flexibility and freedom, you will love it!

  5. Wow...that sounds really great! You're at Spout Springs, right? I feel like I've asked you that a few times before. Collin will be at Friendship next year. I can't believe it! Maybe we should move a few miles??

  6. Congrats on a awesome project!! I know who should do the photography Lorri!!!!

  7. What an AWESOME program to offer the students! I wish all schools did this. What a great way to learn- through their interests. I know you will enjoy your topic!

  8. I LOVE that cluster idea--you'll have to share some of your zoo photos on the blog!

  9. This is so awesome! Since I teach in a small, rural school district, I'm not familiar with charter schools (I've heard that used in the DFW area). This was such a happy post. I'm feeling the burden of Jan-Feb where you have a very long time until Spring Break. Thanks for sharing your good news. I'm excited for you and your photography cluster! So cool!


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