Principal Blog: February
There is a lot contained within the Expeditionary Learning approach to education, but the most common thing that comes to people's minds is our fieldwork. While we refer to units of instruction where scholars explore the learning for themselves as "expeditions", our talented teachers also design expeditions into the community at large, known as fieldwork. Fieldwork is not the same as field trips that you or your child might remember from other schools. "Fieldwork" is closely connected to the work that scholars are exploring in the classroom, and often connects to multiple subject areas. Scholars are expected to use their experiences in fieldwork to shape assignments and projects that they are doing in class.
Our 4th grade classes recently visited the History Colorado museum as part of their exploration of geography, stories about the Colorado experience, and the history of Colorado in class. They were full of questions for museum staff and explored the entire museum in a series of self-guided tours. When they returned, they applied what they had learned to their geography projects, including writing, presentations, and artwork. Fieldwork can happen inside the school, as well. Our kindergarten scholars did a long and amazing Zoom session with a scientist from NCAR. They talked about weather and weather systems, and even conducted an experiment together!
Fieldwork is not limited to our elementary scholars. Our middle school teams frequently team up with one another in order to create projects and expeditions that blend Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Recently, our 5th and 6th graders went to the Denver Zoo in order to conduct research on an animal of their choice, taking notes on their chosen animal's characteristics, diet, habitat, and where they are in the food chain. For social studies, scholars practiced their timeline skills and created a detailed timeline of our trip to the zoo, and for math, students measured zoo exhibits in order to get information to create their own zoo. This will all come together in a project at Expedition Night that incorporates each subject area, including writing in Language Arts. Sometimes we go on expeditions with smaller groups, as well, such as our math intervention classes that went to the Rocky Mountains to do a math scavenger hunt on a 2 mile hike around a lake. Scholars were challenged to find the "rightest rocks" (rocks with right angles), the most parallel trees, or polygons along the hike, and they had an amazing time doing so.
Doing "fieldwork" instead of "field trips" is just one more way that we empower our scholars, engage their excitement for learning, and support them in their achievement.