Wednesday, April 17, 2013


This is a vision...into the future 2017.

My vision is constantly changing. There are definitely things that I want to change and that I want to implement, but because next year is still undetermined on whether I will continue to teach kindergarten or if I will move up to second grade, writing down my vision into a scenario has been more difficult then I thought it would be. So here is my attempt...

Hello Justin, thank you for coming in today to talk about your experiences in elementary school. Do you feel that you are prepared to be a middle school student?
     I had a lot of fun in elementary school and feel like I learned a lot. I hope that some of my classes in   middle school will be similar to my classes in elementary school since it was focused a lot on projects.
Let's talk about those projects and how they may have helped you. You said school was fun. Can you explain that a bit?
    Sure, at my school we learned by doing. We really didn't spend time sitting at desks and working on worksheets. We spent a lot of time trying to solve problems, work on projects and create things. We had a barn with animals and sometimes our projects would be those animals and how we needed to take care of them and what they needed. But other times, we would find problems that we would need to figure out how to solve, due to having animals, for example if an animal was sick then we needed to do research to work on solving the problem. We needed to be the experts. It all started when we were in kindergarten. Even as the youngest students at the school, we were able to be a part of everything. Our teacher really made everything about our school family and community. The classroom wasn't her classroom, it was ours. Problems and solutions were all of ours and we all worked together to solve them. It made me feel important, like my opinions mattered just as much as the adults in the school. Our teacher took time to listen, to hear us and then we solved problems together. She had high expectations for us and did make sure that we all worked together to achieve those high expectations.

We had a greenhouse so all year we grew things in the greenhouse to help our school, but we also had problems that we needed to work on with that too. We had to research the amount of sunlight plants needed so we could put lights in our greenhouse. We also needed to learn about different plant and the amount of moisture they required. Then we had to decide how much to sell things for in order to make a profit so we could buy more seeds and other materials for our greenhouse. So much went into that and we were responsible for figuring it all out. It felt so awesome to know that as students, we got to help with things that normally only the adults get to do.  Even with that stuff there was still a lot more we got to do in the classroom every day that was centered around projects. Sometimes our class would be working on one big project all together, but sometimes we would be in smaller groups all working on different things. All year we would work on projects and all our school work was focused on that so it didn't even feel like we were doing reading and writing and math because it was just what we needed to do in order to figure out how to solve our problem. I just hope that now going into middle school my classes will be able to focus on things that really matter instead of just working on things from worksheets or textbooks.

I really feel like I learned more about real things when I was in elementary school, even when I was only in kindergarten. I could solve problems and now I know where to look for the answers. I know how to talk to other experts if I need help solving a problem. I can work in a group. I really like being able to solve problems and work on projects. I also feel that my confidence in myself is better, because of the strong relationships established.

Well Justin, it sounds like you did a lot as an elementary student. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I wish you all the best in your future.


  1. Interesting post, Angela. Is Walton K - 5? When the students "graduate" from the last year of school available at Walton, they move on to Newton Middle School. Is this correct? I am assuming this transition can be fairly difficult for them after coming from a PBL school to a more traditional school. Are there things the school district has put into place to aid students in this transition? Is this transition a part of your project?

  2. Eric, we are a K-4 school. Our district has a 5-6 center and a 7-8 center and then they transition to high school. We have had the discussion many times about there not be anything at the middle school level. Our high school has a wonderful program for students interested in a more project-based approach, but there isn't anything currently in place for middle school. Definitely a discussion that needs to keep happening.

  3. It would be difficult to have to go to a school that is completely different from what they have been used to. It will be interesting to see if the discussion can actually lead to change based off of the project that you are working on.

  4. I can see how it would be a hard adjustment going from a project-based charter school to the middle school. I'm guessing that teachers at Walton have concerns about that adjustment as well. So, 2nd grade? Is this something that you are desiring? If so, I wish you the best!

  5. When I visited Walton this was one of my thoughts on the road home. What happens after Walton? Do some kids go from a setting that fosters a different style of learning back to a system that is the same same. If so, for some students how does the impact their motivation level?