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!