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Emergent Curriculum & Project Approach Michelle Taylor MS. Ed.

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1 Emergent Curriculum & Project Approach Michelle Taylor MS. Ed.


3 Question: “What do you think of when you hear the phrase Emergent Curriculum/Project Approach?” (Students: How do we learn at school?) Students: We have teachers and we help people out and learn new kinds of things. We explore. We have a classroom and we decide what to do. We look at stuff. It’s called investigation. We do projects. Dig. Searching plants. (She meant researching which we then talked about for a long time – what re-searching means. Searching, bringing it back and searching again). We investigate. I can move to a different place if it’s too tired and crowded.

4 Emergent ideas. Brainstorming. Fluidity. Deep. Rich. Plentiful. Juicy. Child exploration. Child interest. Child led. Not forced. Flowing and emerging from the child’s interests. Not scheduled, it just happens. Evolving from an idea like when you put watercolor on paper towels and it spider webs. Organic. Unplanned but not quite unplanned. Open. Spontaneous. Options and experiences. It’s like plants growing. They come up from the ground like a project grows.

5 Deep studies about a topic the kids brought up. What kids are into. Think of the kids and they have a choice about what they want to learn. Other ideas???

6 Emergent curriculum is a way of planning curriculum based on the student’s and teacher’s interest and passions. To plan an emergent curriculum requires time, observation, documentation, creativity, brainstorming, flexibility and patience.

7 Once teachers see an interest “emerging” they brainstorm ways to study the topic in depth. Webbing is often used because of its fun and flexible nature. A web doesn’t show everything that will be learned but what could be learned. It is an important process that allows to open the teachers and the students to possibilities. Teachers and students brainstorm many possibilities for study sparked from a particular interest, not as a plan but more as a ‘road map’. To get a plan, we choose an idea and brainstorm ways to approach it – what hands-on activities could we provide, how can we bring this to real-world learning. Putting all the activities on a web gives you a road map full of possible journeys and a path to look back upon.

8 Teaching the Class About Webbing Thinking about our learning


10 Alex’s Webs

11 A project, by definition, is an in- depth investigation of a real-world topic worthy of a student’s attention and effort. The core idea of project- based learning is that real-world problems capture students' interest and provoke serious thinking

12 The Project Approach: is organized around an open-ended Driving Question or Challenge. These focus students’ work and deepen their learning by centering on significant issues, debates, questions and/or problems. It provides complex tasks based on challenging questions or problems that involve the students' problem solving, decision making, investigative skills, and reflection that include teacher facilitation, but not necessarily direction. It focuses on questions that drive students to encounter central concepts and principles of a subject hands-on. Students learn from these experiences and take them into account and apply them to their lives in the real world. It is a teaching technique that promotes and practices new learning habits. The students have to think in original ways to come up with the solutions to these real world problems. It helps with their creative thinking skills by showing that there are many ways to solve a problem and that they are capable of coming up with solutions together without answers from the ‘teacher’.

13 To embrace the idea of the environment as the third teacher in our classrooms, we expand our thinking beyond the idea of room arrangements and rating scales. We ask ourselves what values we want to communicate through our environments and how we want children to experience their time in our classrooms. We spend much of our time on creating intentional environments that specifically tie into our current projects and the student’s interests. Our environments shape the culture of a classroom by showing what is important in learning. It also catches children’s interests. If I lay a group of books out on the table about trees and let the kids come in and I say nothing. They will grab for them, sit and look. If I add paper, they will begin to draw and write. So although I directly gave them the materials that are already included in our current project, I didn’t assign a specific task and thus the learning is open-ended without conclusion. It keeps the mystery alive and their interests peaked. This way of shaping the environment shows how we learn, how we approach learning and how we care for our space and materials. Children who have been in our classrooms for a while know how to use the materials to further discover and uncover their interests and driving need for knowledge. It shapes our identities, how we view learning, how we see the world and it empowers us to make decisions for ourselves, direct our own learning and to see the classroom and the world as limitless.

14 Allows for everyone to learn together. The teacher’s don’t know the answers and if we do, we often don’t share the information. Most often the kids will bring the knowledge in with them or the class will figure it out together. If we gave them the answer, the learning would end right there and the opportunity of discovery would be lost. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world to be in a room full of kids, mesmerized by the mystery of a topic. The possibilities are endless. The room is electric. Instead we research and discover together through books, hands-on exploration, detective work, walking out into the world and asking questions.

15 Watching the evolution in the classroom happen offers the chance to see a child have many of an epiphany and can be a bit mind blowing. The capabilities our kids have are boundless. When we put restraints on our kids such as “you need to have these two pages done by the end of the day” you are limiting their capacity to exceed both of your and their expectations and really get the breadth and depth out of a problem or a subject or a new found passion. *( Narrative is linear, but action has breadth and depth as well as height and is solid.) Intentionally not limiting their discoveries and explorations, gives them the mystery required to keep going, keep learning and keep loving to learn.


17 In March, the day after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, the kids came into morning meeting talking about it, wanting to know information, giving information. One of our teacher’s from the year before had returned home to Japan. She taught my class origami and Japanese. The kids wanted to help and decided to have a fundraiser by making and selling origami strands. The kids also wanted to know wanted to know the details of what earthquakes and tsunami’s do and how and why they happen. And they were passionate.

18 March 11 – Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan The plates and layers of the earth Volcanoes List of Natural Phenomena MayukoFundraisers

19 Mercy Corps Fundraiser for Japan

20 The Earth’s Plates & The Layers of the Earth


22 Volcanoes

23 List of natural phenomena Tornadoes Danger Hunter Natural Earth Series 1-5 CloudsWater CycleHurricanes Independent Projects Independent Book Projects Independent & Group Experiments

24 Tornadoes

25 Clouds

26 The Water Cycle

27 Hurricanes

28 Adah – The Sun Charlie – The Universe Lucas –The Moon Chase – The Moon Alex – Why is the Sky Blue? Archer – Bird Migration Izzy – Rocks & Crystals Tim – Landforms Holden – How were the Planets Made? Jake – Tsunami Maya – Earthquakes Maddox – Monsoons Norah – The Origin of the Seed

29 Ended the school year with Norah’s Project and performance about seeds and a nature alphabet New School Year Begin to harvest seeds from our garden

30 Seeds

31 Seed& Pod Investigation Exploring the neighborhood seeds, pods, trees Pine Cones & Pine Trees Deciduous & Coniferous Investigating, observing, identifying What kind of tree would you be if you were a tree? (personalization)

32 Detectives

33 Royal – CactusTim – Ginkgo Jake – PineLucas – Palm Chase – Douglas FirBryn – Tree Fern Izzy – Cottonwood Nora – Cherry Blossom Carter - BoojumCatalina – Umbrella Thorn Hannah – Redwood Ellis – Bunya Bunya Lily – SequoiaAdah – Monkey Puzzle Atti – Mahogany Salvador – Japanese Maple Owen – Dragon Holden – Cannonball

34 Our Trees in Process

35 Types of trees Origin World Exploration Parts of a tree TrunkLeaves Our bodies as trees

36 Trees Madrona

37 Why trees live where they live Tree Extinction What can we do? Animal Habitats Animal Extinction

38 Alder

39 A Culture of Quality: A Reflection on Practice. Ron Berger (1996) Annenberg Institute for School Reform. A meditation by veteran teacher Ron Berger (now Director of Instruction for Expeditionary Learning Schools), on the features of an educational community that has conscientiously developed a culture of quality. A Culture of Quality: A Reflection on Practice An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship in Schools. Ron Berger (2003) Heinemann. Telling stories from his classrooms, Ron Berger describes how teachers, students and parents can change the culture of schools to a commitment to excellence. An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship in Schools Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. John Palfrey and Urs Gasser (2008) Basic Books. Described as "a smart, practical guide to a brave new world and its complex inhabitants," Born Digital provides a sociological portrait of the generation raised in the digital world. Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives Expeditionary Learning: Core Practice Benchmarks. This is a free pdf download. Expeditionary Learning in practice: what teachers, students, school leaders, families, and other partners do in fully implemented Expeditionary Learning schools. Expeditionary Learning: Core Practice Benchmarksfree pdf download Kurt Hahn's Schools & Legacy: To Discover You Can be More and Do More Than You Believed. Martin Flavin (1996) Cardinal Publishers Group (Middle Atlantic Press). A narrative describing the forces in Kurt Hahn's life -- including his arrest and exile by Nazi storm troopers -- that shaped his values and philosophy and led to the founding of Outward Bound. Kurt Hahn's Schools & Legacy: To Discover You Can be More and Do More Than You Believed Leadership Lessons from Comprehensive School Reforms. Joseph Murphy and Amanda Datnow, eds. (2002) Corwin. A volume of articles discussing the importance of leadership in comprehensive school reform. Leadership Lessons from Comprehensive School Reforms Outward Bound USA: Crew not Passengers. Joshua L. Miner, et. al. (2002) The Mountaineers Books. Describes the roots and philosophy of Outward Bound and its expansion into education. Outward Bound USA: Crew not Passengers

40 PBL Starter Kit: To-the-Point Advice, Tools and Tip for Your First Project. John Larmer with David Ross and John Mergendoller (2009) Buck Institute for Education. A How-To guide from the Buck Institute for Education for planning and managing projects. Contains planning forms, rubrics, handouts, examples of projects and practical advice. PBL Starter Kit: To-the-Point Advice, Tools and Tip for Your First Project Project Based Learning: A Guide to Standards-Focused Project Based Learning for Middle and High School Teachers. Thom Markham with John Larmer and Jason Ravitz (2003) Buck Institute for Education. The PBL Handbook provides an overview of the what, why, and how of PBL to guide teachers through all phases of a successful project. Project Based Learning: A Guide to Standards-Focused Project Based Learning for Middle and High School Teachers Reflections on Design Principles. (1998) Kendall Hunt. Brief essays on EL's design principles, with examples of how they are integrated into school culture and teaching practices. Reflections on Design Principles Roots: From Outward Bound to Expeditionary Learning (2000) Kendall Hunt. An anthology of Expeditionary Learning's roots in the educational philosophy of Kurt Hahn, the founder of Outward Bound. Roots: From Outward Bound to Expeditionary Learning Starting From Scratch: One Classroom Builds its own Curriculum. Steven Levy (1996) Heinemann. Award-winning teacher Steven Levy inspires and explains in step-by-step detail how PBL resulted in powerful learning for his fourth grade students. Starting From Scratch: One Classroom Builds its own Curriculum "The Having of Wonderful Ideas" and other Essays on Teaching and Learning. Eleanor Duckworth (1996, 2006 Third Edition) Teachers College Press. Eleanor Duckworth's classic essays on how the work of her former teacher and colleague Jean Piaget can be applied to student learning and teaching using her expeditionary learning design principle. "The Having of Wonderful Ideas" and other Essays on Teaching and Learning Thinking About Our Kids: An Agenda for American Education, by Harold Howe (1993) The Free Press. Harold Howe, former U.S. Education Commissioner during Lyndon Johnson's presidency, challenges the leading government-sponsored studies of school reform and recommends a program to improve coordination among all government agencies that deal with children, families, and schools. Thinking About Our Kids: An Agenda for American Education

41 Visit us:

42 The Project Approach ~Lilian Katz & Sylvia Chard Virginia Tech Digital Library & Archives Journal of Industrial Teacher Education The Project Method: Its Vocational Education Origin and International Development Michael Knoll University of Bayreuth http://scholar.lib.vt.edu Jones, Elizabeth. & Nimmo, John. Emergent Curriculum. Washington DC: NAEYC 1994 CSWS Students, Teachers, Parents, Seattle, WA Sarah Lawrence College Art of Teaching & Early Childhood Education Lab School, Broxville, NY Duckworth, Elizabeth. The Having of Wonderful Ideas. Teacher’s College. NYC. 1996 Project Learning : A Reading List by Kathy Baron Making Your Environment “The Third Teacher by Margie Carter

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