Celebrating Fabulous Friday Learning Adventures

It’s the weekend. Thank you Ruth Ayres for hosting.  Join the celebration here.

This year we’ve made several big changes to the schedule and curriculum at our Lower school, the biggest by far being what we call “Fab Fridays.”  On Fridays we no longer have scheduled classes for reading, math, history and writing. We have a three and a half hour block that begins after Chapel and ends just before Community lunch,  dedicated to student initiated learning. Every homeroom class is joined by an additional teacher, and I am lucky enough to be in a Third Grade class with an amazing teacher.

I’m not going to lie- in the beginning it was scary. We teachers were unsure where to begin and what to teach, and when and how to let go. We had more questions than answers. Students were uncertain too, and their stamina for a long, unscheduled block was not there. In the beginning, student topics and projects were limited and lacked depth. We teachers brainstormed together about how to help them “level up.” Student blog posts documenting and reflecting on their learning were brief and lacking in detail, and they were not reaching an audience. 
But now… we are celebrating. Yesterday was our best Friday yet. 
We are celebrating:
  • Students who are increasingly independent in their learning, and whose stamina for investigation, process, hurdles and results continues to grow. 
  • Student topics that are varied, and becoming richer, and questions that are thoughtful. 
  • The “ah-ha” moments are happening more frequently and comments like, “Well I started with this question, but now I have these questions…”
  • Teacher prep time that is decreasing as students become more independent. It feels more and more like what it is supposed to be, student driven learning.
  • Students who are getting better and better at finding and evaluating resources.
  • Students who are focusing on process, not finishing.
  • Student blog posts that are detailed, fun to read and full of reflection. Check out these posts from Third Grade. 

5 thoughts on “Celebrating Fabulous Friday Learning Adventures

  1. Lisa, this is wonderful, just what my school does all the time, & you're right, students slowly need to gain stamina. I've found that teaching about different kinds of questions helps a lot, & of course as the students age & become more sophisticated, so does the questioning. Perhaps you already are doing that, but wanted to share. Love hearing all about your changes.

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  2. Wonderful and exciting work that you are doing! I know it would be hard for administrators and teachers to let go of the control like that in so many districts and yet, that is just what the CCS and passionate educators know is needed – student led learning.

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  3. I did this at a former school as part of Renzulli's Enrichment Model. And just like you said, it was scary and hard, but oh, so worth it. Now we do enrichment days with the gifted 6th graders in our district. A team of 5 teachers and 20 kids. We all do our part and the kids have to come up with a service project. This year they are planning an enrichment day for all the gifted elementary kids. These kinds of activities build the 21st century skills.

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  4. This sounds like an amazing thing. It is wonderful that your whole school does this and that you are all sticking with it to allow it to unfold into the self-directed learning that wows.

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