Our work is grounded in several core values that we believe provide the framework for engaged learning.

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...that intelligence is effort-based, not fixed.

Children possess unlimited potential for making personal meanings of the world.  Powerful learning is in their grasp! They are capable of making responsible choices, being engaged, asking good questions and becoming independent thinkers and learners. With effort, all children can grow their intelligence and become smarter.

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  • Organizing teaching to encourage strong student effort and responsible self-management of learning
  • Building “growth” orientations toward intelligence through an understanding that with effort, everyone can get smarter.
  • Directing parent involvement in a way that models and supports effort-based learning at school and at home

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...that a community of engaged adult learners contributes to joyful student learners.

Adults can be models of readers, writers, scientists, mathematicians and engaged thinkers. Motivation for learning comes in part when adults and children explore the natural and human-made worlds together.

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  • Creating an environment so children feel safe to share their ideas, ask questions and be open to learning
  • Organizing workshop experiences in the arts, the sciences, and the humanities that engage students authentically as learners

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...that the arts are an important tool for engaging students.

The arts, the imagination, creative energies, play, wondering and inquiry are universal to social, emotional and academic learning for adults and children alike — and are too frequently unacknowledged or unsupported in schools.

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  • Utilizing games in morning meeting rituals
  • Integrating the arts and creative opportunities throughout the curriculum
  • Integrating the arts through science investigations and inquiry experiences

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...that science and math can be engaging, powerful and accessible subjects for all learners.

Learning about our natural world can be fun and interesting for all students! Teachers can help both adults and students erase the self-defeating myths surrounding these subjects and create engaging learning experiences.

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  • Building on students’ natural curiosity about the world to stimulate scientific inquiry
  • Engaging students in making connections, creating representations, problem solving and communicating ideas as the basis for mathematical thinking and learning
  • Using collaborative group work to enhance student engagement in both science and mathematics inquiry

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...that schools can and must teach more than academics.

Being prepared for success in the world requires more than the ability to score well on tests. Personal responsibility, caring for others and community empowerment are essential social skills that can be cultivated. Building mutual respect and a school community that educates for a socially-just society are essential educational goals.

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  • Using “hopes and dreams” conversations to develop classroom and school-wide learning expectations and cultural norms
  • Exploring opportunities for cross–age learning experiences and service learning activities
  • Building participatory, democratic group processes into the professional learning of teachers and into site-based leadership team norms

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...that teachers are lifelong professional learners who must be key curriculum decision makers for their students.

The professional work of curriculum building and thoughtful attention to student learning and engagement go hand-in-hand.  

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  • Building engaging professional learning communities that support student learning in a culture of continual adult learning
  • Using professional learning communities for instructional improvement and deeper understanding of curriculum and students’ learning
  • Using school-wide walkabouts and adult learning conversations to support professional learning and parent engagement

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...that every learner is unique.

Teachers can come to know children as unique learners, deeply and comprehensively.

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  • Understanding students through meaningful qualitative data such as writing, projects, questions from readings, math and science investigations, art representations, interactions and conversations with others, habits of inquiry, and persistence in challenging situations
  • Developing performance rubrics for science and social studies themes of study
  • Developing student-led goal-setting conferences and student-led portfolio work review

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...that...it takes a village.

Parents can play an active role in supporting the school’s culture of learning, both at the school and at home.

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  • Creating ways to include parents in developing school mission and values
  • Communicating school values and learning principles to parents by example and through informative events
  • Giving parents tangible ways to carry through this culture of learning at home
  • Creating opportunities for parents to participate in the classroom and to support school-wide community initiatives