Curriculum & Environment

Developmental goals, the curriculum and environment are inseparable – together, they are the foundation of a more personal approach to education. We place a high value on the knowledge children bring to school. Their existing skills and interests are used as a starting point to expand their academic, physical and social/emotional autonomy. The curriculum considers the guidelines established by the Common Core Education Standards with an emphasis on the cumulative results rather than year by year timelines. Our environment is constantly evolving to meet the needs of the classroom and to create the opportunity for nurturing relationships,  learning through exploration, play and nature and risk-taking.

 

Classroom Cohorts – Summary:

“Grades K through 8”

 

ACORNS – Ages 5/6. Nurturing the joy of learning, the wonder of creating and learning that your voice matters is the work of the Acorn. Our teacher has a strong commitment to social/emotional development and is skilled at inspiring self-propelled learning.

 

NATURE GROWERS – Ages 6/7. Brain function and the capacity to process academic learning takes a noticeable leap for students in this class. Students asking for more are met by teachers who are ready to dive in to practicing foundational skills, foster a social/culture awareness and help build confidence.

 

REDWOODS – Ages 8-10. The world in which to learn becomes much bigger for students in this group yet their self-discovery is becoming more influenced by external sources. Teachers in this group support building academic confidence and skill-building and an awareness/appreciation for mindfulness, self-love and courage.

 

EVERGREENS – Ages 10-12. With more mature brains and on the cusp of a physiological transformation, Evergreens are encouraged to challenge themselves to achieve their potential, have awareness of their social and cultural surroundings supported by teachers who can hold space for social/emotional growth balanced with academic rigor.

 

13-14 AGE CLASS (to be named in Fall of 2018). Students in this age are beginning to see the adult world in their future and they are encouraged to know that through the practice of: project planning, critical thinking, failure and success, they will build the academic, social and cultural skills required to use their hearts, minds and voices to be innovators and catalysts through the next phase of life. The teachers, mentors & coaches who work with these students have high-expectations with an abundance of trust.


The indoor and outdoor classroom is structured in a way to encourage cooperation and exploratory learning. There are community tables for collaborative learning and group projects. There are also spaces available for children to work individually at their own pace. The classroom is arranged to allow for ease of movement and comfort.

 

Closing MeetingOne of the best parts or our day is Personal Project time – when students integrate academic skills with real world projects of their own choosing. We encourage personal goal-setting and group collaboration while carefully observing the students in order to enhance our curriculum with their interests.

 

In order to achieve a delicate balance of project-based learning, emergent curriculum and guided/direct instruction, we employ multi-week learning units that emphasize:
• Differentiation, Personal learning trajectoryCountingPenniesWeek22
• Assessment, creating specific goals
• Respect for developmental readiness
• Forward progress though incremental steps

Followed by time that is safeguarded for:
• Emergent curriculum
• Big picture content
• Foundational skills practice
• Community/Co-operative learning

 

Students experience respect for the larger environment and appreciation for the Earth’s natural resources.ElPueblodeLosAngelesWeek26 In response to the nature deficit facing children today, we make a curricular intention to have school in nature one day a week – rain or shine. We strive to minimize our ecological footprint. School-wide practices include: trash free snacks and lunches, composting, use of recycled materials for activities and projects, our own food garden, use of natural ingredients for cleaning, recycling of aluminum, plastics, paper, and glass, and school-wide service projects for the purpose of creating a sustainable future. Our curriculum fosters capacity building through teaching on topics such as organic farming, water conservation, recycling/upcycling everyday items, and more.

Brain based research has shown that the development of emotional intelligence is a significant factor in personal success and happiness. Important to the Knowing Garden is a curriculum that incorporates: effective problem solving skills, relationship with self and others, recognizing emotions and learning how to manage feelings, successful collaboration and facing situations in a constructive and mindful fashion.

TKG encourages children to organize their own play, solve their problems, and work both independently and in cooperation with others. We believe that conflict is a natural and real part of our everyday world and when it happens, it is viewed as an opportunity to engage in our social emotional curriculum. We do not offer rewards or inflict punishments such as time outs in order to obtain a desired behavioral outcome. We strive to treat difficult situations with respect and concern and learn from them.

Our goal is to nurture a distraction free environment. We also strive to involve the whole class in decisions about Holiday project or events. Our preference is to omit costumes, commercial Holiday items and leave holiday decisions to the discretion of teachers and students.


planets orbiting the sun

TKG Curriculum includes:

Language Arts

Mathematics

Science

Outdoor Learning/Environmental Studies

Passion Projects

Field Day/Park Day

Social Studies

History

Performing and Creative Arts

Physical Education

Interpersonal Awareness & Emotional Intelligence

Field trips

Community Service

Conflict Resolution

Technology: rights & responsibilities (Redwoods/Evergreens)

Public Speaking/Presentations

Health/Healthy Sexuality (Evergreens and up)

 

Meet Our Teachers – Click this link to read their bios

 

What is the Difference between a “traditional” classroom and a constructivist classroom? Learn more, here…HolidayShow2012-for Letter

OUR FOUNDING COMMUNITY

Founding Teachers: Elizabeth Bloom, Dana Holman, Jessica Schilling-Wigley

Parent Board: Josef Bobek, Jessica Mayotte, Daniela Samms, Trish Vasquez

Read more about the Founding Community at www.knowinggarden.org

Our school program will encompass:

·Environmental Studies

·History

·Language Arts

·Mathematics

·Performing and Creative Arts

·Physical Education

·Science

·Social Studies

·World Cultures

Practical elements of the curriculum include:

Experiential Learning through Generative Lesson Plans

We utilize project based and experiential learning, an approach to instruction and learning that supports a person’s need for hands-on experiences and choices in what they learn, how they engage in learning, and how they show they have learned. Projects may be short or long term and may be created by an individual, partners, or in groups. In project-based learning, students develop their academic skills as well as skills in organization, time management, communication, cooperation, compromise, interpretation, and creativity.

Whole Child

We are committed to nurturing all aspects of a person – intellectual, physical, emotional, social, creative, and cultural. Students engage in activities throughout the day, week, and year that help them develop as positive contributing members of our community. We focus on developing students’ skills in cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, self-awareness, and self-control.

Globally & Community Minded Real World Experiences

We believe it is important to do things that connect to and affect the community. Our themes emerge from current events the students know and care about. Our students have opportunities to strengthen their skills as global citizens through service learning projects, community outreach, charity events, identifying and addressing real world problems, recognizing and embracing differences, and being agents of change. Our goal is to help students develop as life-long learners and citizens of the global community.

Nurturing of Emotional, Social and Cognitive Development

We assert that being competent socially is as important as being competent academically.We see that valuable cognitive growth occurs through fulfilling social interaction. We employ a conscious discipline policy wherein both adults and children learn the skills needed to successfully manage life tasks such as learning, forming relationships, communicating effectively, being sensitive to others’ needs and getting along with others, while getting their own needs met. Facilitator-Teachers are taught to draw from within themselves to become responsive instead of reactive during moments of conflict. In this way, facilitator-teachers positively influence students by being models of empathetic, cooperative, and effective problem solvers, while being mentors in establishing relationships.

Innovative Thinking

We believe in the importance of creative, innovative, and critical thinking. We encourage our students to be risk-takers who are able to think independently to develop solutions to problems. In addition, we recognize that students need to be problem finders as well as problem solvers.

Asset-Based Assessments

Our goal in assessment is to understand and know the complexity of each person’s development rather than to compare students with each other.If we are able to uphold the tenet that each person is unique, then it is imperative that this belief be reflected in our practices of assessment, as well as instruction. The constructivist view of learning sees students as full of knowledge and resource. The focus on assets is extremely important in the fostering of a supportive climate for students. By identifying each student’s strengths we encourage them to be resourceful and recognize the resources they possess. Rather than beginning with what students don’t know or can’t do, we begin with what students do know and can do and we build from there.

Thematic/Integrated Learning

Our curriculum is organized largely around themes that integrate core subjects like math, reading, writing, science, and humanities within the exploration of a broader topic.Thematic learning is based on the belief that students learn and retain information and skills best when what they are learning is connected to the real world and related to things they already know. The themes are determined based on what is developmentally appropriate and in the interests of the learners. Some of the themes that would be used are: The Community, Life Cycles, The Environment, Immigration, and the South Bay Past, Present, and Future.

Outdoor/Environmental Emphasis

Research shows that self

THE KNOWING GARDEN philosophy encompasses these principles: the first is that students are complex, creative individuals who learn deeply through methods which encourage them to become innovative critical thinkers. Their desire to learn can be trusted. The second is that optimal learning is achieved when it is built upon student interests and real life issues and problems. Third, that a flexible structure which includes heterogeneous and multi-age group arrangements for students is the best way to facilitate learning. Lastly, that the best environment for learning is a peaceful one that embraces freedom with responsibility and addresses the balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of the community.

 

OUR FOUNDING COMMUNITY

Founding Teachers: Elizabeth Bloom, Dana Holman, Jessica Schilling-Wigley

Parent Board: Josef Bobek, Jessica Mayotte, Daniela Samms, Trish Vasquez

Read more about the Founding Community at www.knowinggarden.org

 

 

Our school program will encompass:

• Environmental Studies

• History

• Language Arts

• Mathematics

• Performing and Creative Arts

• Physical Education

• Science

• Social Studies

• World Cultures

 

Practical elements of the curriculum include:

 

Experiential Learning through Generative Lesson Plans

We utilize project based and experiential learning, an approach to instruction and learning that supports a person’s need for hands-on experiences and choices in what they learn, how they engage in learning, and how they show they have learned. Projects may be short or long term and may be created by an individual, partners, or in groups. In project-based learning, students develop their academic skills as well as skills in organization, time management, communication, cooperation, compromise, interpretation, and creativity.

Whole Child

We are committed to nurturing all aspects of a person – intellectual, physical, emotional, social, creative, and cultural. Students engage in activities throughout the day, week, and year that help them develop as positive contributing members of our community. We focus on developing students’ skills in cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, self-awareness, and self-control.

Globally & Community Minded Real World Experiences

We believe it is important to do things that connect to and affect the community. Our themes emerge from current events the students know and care about. Our students have opportunities to strengthen their skills as global citizens through service learning projects, community outreach, charity events, identifying and addressing real world problems, recognizing and embracing differences, and being agents of change. Our goal is to help students develop as life-long learners and citizens of the global community.

 

 

 

 

Nurturing of Emotional, Social and Cognitive Development

We assert that being competent socially is as important as being competent academically. We see that valuable cognitive growth occurs through fulfilling social interaction. We employ a conscious discipline policy wherein both adults and children learn the skills needed to successfully manage life tasks such as learning, forming relationships, communicating effectively, being sensitive to others’ needs and getting along with others, while getting their own needs met. Facilitator-Teachers are taught to draw from within themselves to become responsive instead of reactive during moments of conflict. In this way, facilitator-teachers positively influence students by being models of empathetic, cooperative, and effective problem solvers, while being mentors in establishing relationships.

Innovative Thinking

We believe in the importance of creative, innovative, and critical thinking. We encourage our students to be risk-takers who are able to think independently to develop solutions to problems. In addition, we recognize that students need to be problem finders as well as problem solvers.

Asset-Based Assessments

Our goal in assessment is to understand and know the complexity of each person’s development rather than to compare students with each other. If we are able to uphold the tenet that each person is unique, then it is imperative that this belief be reflected in our practices of assessment, as well as instruction. The constructivist view of learning sees students as full of knowledge and resource. The focus on assets is extremely important in the fostering of a supportive climate for students. By identifying each student’s strengths we encourage them to be resourceful and recognize the resources they possess. Rather than beginning with what students don’t know or can’t do, we begin with what students do know and can do and we build from there.

Thematic/Integrated Learning

Our curriculum is organized largely around themes that integrate core subjects like math, reading, writing, science, and humanities within the exploration of a broader topic. Thematic learning is based on the belief that students learn and retain information and skills best when what they are learning is connected to the real world and related to things they already know. The themes are determined based on what is developmentally appropriate and in the interests of the learners. Some of the themes that would be used are: The Community, Life Cycles, The Environment, Immigration, and the South Bay Past, Present, and Future.

 

 

 

 

Outdoor/Environmental Emphasis

Research shows that self‐directed play in nature is the most effective way for children to develop a deep bond of affection for the natural world. From this love of nature comes the passionate commitment to environmental stewardship that has guided such pioneers as John Muir and Rachel Carson. Free play can be included in environmental education alongside information‐based programs so that children can develop the passion and skills needed to protect the earth.

 

directed play in nature is the most effective way for children to develop a deep bond of affection for the natural world. From this love of nature comes the passionate commitment to environmental stewardship that has guided such pioneers as John Muir and Rachel Carson.Free play can be included in environmental education alongside informationbased programs so that children can develop the passion and skills needed to protect the earth.[1]


[1] Wild Zones, How to Create and Enjoy Them A Toolkit, 2008

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