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Thinking, Creating, Reflecting: Impacting the Future

Our Approach

Learning Frameworks: Plan-Do-Review and the Relational Learning Framework 

A common learning framework supports coherence. This is an important school characteristic, so that educators, assistants, parents, and students have a common language and a shared understanding when in conversations about school, learning, and children. At Spectrum, our frameworks prioritize student choice and voice in their own learning. The purpose of this is to develop efficacy and ownership in their own learning processes, based on their interests and strengths. We refer to this as Learning How to Learn. Rather than quizzes, assignments, homework, and tests, our frameworks foster students’ thinking and planning how to demonstrate their learning in meaningful ways to others, whether it be high-quality work products or performances chosen by the learner. Furthermore, we want students to be able to articulate the relevance of their learning, and its relationship to other ideas and people. Finally, we want the application of a learning framework to strengthen a child’s identity and sense of self as a learner. 

At Spectrum, we align to two learning frameworks, one which builds on the other. For our youngest learners, we have long implemented a process from early childhood experts at High Scope called Plan-Do-Review. It leverages learning stations and centers, as well as workshop and teacher-supported activities, in the classroom for each student to Plan their learning (with discussion from the teacher or assistant), Do their plan, and then Review how and what they did- what was successful, what might next steps be, what might be done differently. Sharing work in a closing circle of the day is a way for children to explain their learning to others and develop confidence in their ability to accomplish a plan. Imagine how much children can learn from each other in these sharing circles. 

As students mature, the Relational Learning Framework* extends and builds on Plan-Do-Review in complexity, scope, and depth. Students are deeply involved in a six-step process that cultivates and nurtures increasing autonomy and ownership of learning. Units of inquiry, concepts and skills in the content areas, teacher-directed assignments, theme-based challenges, and learning projects (e.g. Genius Hour or Personal Project) are all organized by the student inside this framework, where it is the responsibility of the student to make sense of, set the goals and pace, and determine the direction and outcome of the intended learning objectives. The steps are elegant: 

    1. Planning/Goal Setting
    2. Exploring (prior knowledge and assumptions, asking questions), 
    3. Researching (with teacher support, gathering and using a variety of resources on the topic, content, focus, or learning challenge)
    4. Practicing (in the application of skills and concepts), 
    5. Relating (connections to other ideas, self, others, the world), and 
    6. Reflecting (How did I do? What’s next?).

The steps of Relational Learning develop self-direction by having the students deeply engaged and even leading the WHAT, WHAT ABOUT IT, HOW, WHY DOES IT MATTER, and WHO AM I inside the learning process, expectations, and environment. As students apply these steps again and again, they increase in their ability to 

*From Fontan Sistema de Pedagogia Relacional and Twani’s Becoming Einstein’s Teacher

Our Philosophy of Teaching and Learning

Spectrum Progressive School fosters learning as a life-long process. Spectrum Progressive involves each of its students in a personalized, action-oriented curriculum throughout all development levels. Multi-age groupings provide appropriate and essential social interactions to ensure that each student progresses at his/her own developmental pace.

The Goals of the Curriculum Are To:

Allow children to develop, through active involvement, the skills of reasoning, planning and problem-solving within and beyond the school setting.

Develop secure self-concepts based on belief in their own abilities and firm foundations in the fundamentals of learning.

Guide the children in exploration of the arts, literature, the accomplishments of civilizations and the diversity of cultural heritage.

To create mindful, self-directed learners for life.

Although Spectrum is progressive, it should not be considered permissive education. We set high expectations and standards for our students. We are not interested in an accumulation of facts, but in learning for understanding and application. As stated in our mission, students participate in an integrated fine arts and academic program with a major emphasis on active learning – learning to think, solve problems and rationally assess their actions in school for today, and throughout life.

Parents are strongly urged to grow in their general knowledge of the philosophy of Spectrum School and how it applies to their children’s programs. Spectrum School, therefore, highly recommends that parents attend observation days, educational programs, conferences and other similar meetings.

Multi-Age Groupings

This form of interaction encourages connection and learning between levels, flexible groupings and increased movement between groups. In addition, multi-age groupings provide:

Multi-year, predictable placement with deeper understanding of the child’s learning needs and style

Differentiated development and academic stages

Extended family-style, in-depth relationships with children and parents

A more continuous learning process.  Time to build patterns, rituals and traditions

A respect of individual differences

Increased motivation and self-esteem

An easier avenue to see and follow progress

Encouragement to children to naturally help and support each other

Our Approaches

Active Learning

Interactive, participatory learning provides experiences in which children have opportunities to discover, create and invent. Children have the opportunity to refine their questioning skills and engage in practical problem solving

Self-Initiated Learning

Encouraging learning based on a child’s interests and abilities stimulates the learning process. It also exposes children to the interests and ideas of other students.

Social Interaction

This increases opportunities for learning by encouraging communication between children, between child and teacher, between the school and home, and between the school and the community.

Broad Range of Experiences

A well-rounded base of experiences stimulates awareness and further investigation of all content areas. Exploration of and involvement in community activities provide a strong basis for authentic learning.

Nurturing Affective Environment

The environment at Spectrum promotes the acceptance of responsibility for oneself as a individual and in association with others. This helps to develop the appreciation for and acceptance of each person’s uniqueness. It expands problem solving to the social level.

Integrated Curriculum

The Spectrum Curriculum weaves the building blocks for learning into every experience. It facilitates the learning process by planning common areas of content across many kinds of subjects.