Culture and Community Context: The Lab school of creative learning can be found within the Poudre School District of Fort Collins, Colorado. This “choice” school revolves around expeditionary learning, which provides students with the opportunity to learn about inquiry, identity, and interaction inside and outside of the classroom. The Lab School is a choice school because it has no boundaries dictating the enrollment of students.
Students within the building interact differently than students at other schools because they are not given grades and are not separated into specific age groups. Students are able to enjoy multiple field trips, walks, their school dog, and their learning is “hands-on, minds-on.” This type of expeditionary learning is meant to pique the student's curiosity about the world around them and instill a love of learning. Additionally, expeditionary learning allows students to study a topic or subject with more depth by linking projects across lessons and units. The environment inside the Lab School feels warm and inviting. Students exhibit a sense of pride and responsibility as they enter the building and classrooms without being told to behave a certain way. Teachers within the building are very supportive of each other and empower the students by letting the students call them by their first name. What separates this school from many others is the relationship between its students and its teachers. They have a mutual relationship of respect and trust.
Einstein in our Brains and Gandhi in our Soul
My school teaches perseverance, character traits, ideas, success and failure. My school shares feelings, thoughts, personal work and challenge. We have Einstein in our brains and Gandhi in our soul. At music we are The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens. At fitness we are LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Mohamed Ali. We have challenges but we can outcome them. Together, we can take on the world
- Written by a new (2010) Lab School 5th grade student
The Lab School is fortunate to have a broad support structure which includes teachers, parents, and volunteers. Within the Lab School there are ten teachers and one paraprofessional. The school also hosts many fundraisers through Friends of Lab (FOL) to support the amount of field trips the lab school participates involved in. FOL has parents and staff who seek the most efficient and beneficial ways of raising money for the school’s students and faculty.
Additionally, Colorado State University supports the lab school by providing pre-service teachers for art classes on Fridays. Generally, there are two to three students who come into each classroom for an hour and a half every friday to teach art. This allows CSU students the opportunity for hands-on learning in lesson planning and teaching, but also gives the lab school a chance to incorporate art into the curriculum. Transformation, design, water, and planets are all examples of lessons that many of the CSU teachers are leading this semester!
Demographic Characteristics: The Lab School has similar demographics to many of the other schools in the Fort Collins area. The most common income status is middle class and the dominant ethnicity is white. Below, are the percentages of the ethnicities represented at the Lab School, as well as other statistics from the school. The information is from 2011 and was found on www.schooldigger.com.
- There are 129 students enrolled in the Lab School White 86.8% (112 students)Hispanic 7% (9 students) Two or More Races 4.7% (6 Students) Asian1.7% (2 Students) - 31% of the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. - The student teacher ratio is 15:1 TCAP TEST SCORESThird Grade Fourth Grade Fifth Grade Math 50.1% Proficient 76.5% Proficient50% Proficient Reading 75% Proficient 70.6% Proficient 70% Proficient Writing 31.3% Proficient 23.5% Proficient 50% Proficient Science 45% Proficient
The School ranking (2012):
- Average math score: 58.9 - Average reading score: 71.9 - State wide rank: 551 - Colorado State percentile: 37.0%
I teach art with two other CSU Art Education students at the lab school, once a week on Friday mornings for an hour and a half. We are in a classroom that has both 4th and 5th grade students. This class has 18 students, eight of which are females and ten are males. It is a welcoming room and the students seem to feel very comfortable with each other and the teacher, in this class. Each morning the students come in and gather in the middle of the classroom, on three large futons. They have large shared desks/tables that allow students to have their own space. It also allows for students to be able to collaborate more easily with each other. Each student has a unique personality and contributes to the group as a whole.
Below is a description of each student in the 4th/5th grade class that we teach on Fridays.
Student 1) Is a very bright student who may have trouble staying on task, but is generally seeking other stimulation due to his active thinking. Many times in class I was stunned at his random facts and revelations. Student 2) Is shy, but slowly emerged from his shell to participate in discussion. When he is engaged, he stays on-task. If he is board with the lesson, or thinks it is silly, he has a tendency to not involve himself with the lesson. Student 3) Is very outgoing and actively seeks reassurance. She often does better working in groups, but needs re-direction sometimes when she talks or walks around the classroom with her peers. Student 4) Adds a lot of humor and light-heartedness to the classroom. He works quickly and often has a high level of detail within his work. Student 5) Gets interested in the details of his projects and is collaborative in discussions. He becomes disengaged when he does not understand something. Student 6) Is very serious and works by herself quietly. She often has very good creative ideas and often times thinks out of the box. Student 7) Needs behavioral help, but quickly understands the concepts within the classroom and latches onto the lesson. Sometimes distracts other students when he does not want to work on his assignment. If he gets overwhelmed you know, because he starts to yell at other students. Student 8) Is quiet but likes to participate in discussions. She is very interested in her work and in her sketchbook drawings and writings. Student 9) Is quiet and maintains her ideas without being influenced by the other work around her. She is determined to finish her work, although she is a slow worker in class. Student 10) Is either focused on himself and working individually but is easily distracted by others. If he has a problem with his art he shuts down and must be eased out of his disengagement. He sometimes is a distraction during class discussions, but always understands the concepts. Student 11) Quickly devises plans for his work and finishes his work very quickly. He is very enthusiastic about his actual piece as well as the process behind it. Student 12) Is hardworking and independent and determined. If the classroom is loud, he has a tendency to join in and add to the noise, but he typically is on task. Student 13) Seems to be emotional unstable somedays. He will sometimes breaks down when he is frustrated with his work, and pays close attention to what his peers think of him and tell him. Student 14) Is a quick worker and is always eager to assist us, whenever we need her help. Though she is not in class the whole time she expresses her willingness to create art frequently. Student 15) Gets frustrated when problems come up and the teacher doesn’t fix it for him. He works well and has inventive ideas when he is on task. Student 16) Loves sharing and helping others with their ideas. She is very good at collaborative and easy going and positive in the classroom. Student 17) Keeps to herself in the group but opens up when its time to work on art. Works better on her own, in groups she tends to follow others ideas. Student 18) Is social and enjoys collaborative work. Sometimes has a hard time keeping a direction, and finishing her work in a timely manner. She often takes a very long time to work on an assignment.
School-Wide Policies for Management, Safe Schools, Conflict Resolution and Students with Special Needs Management: Management Our coordinating teacher uses a bell as a redirect for the entire classroom. When this bell is rung, students know they should be turning their eyes and bodies toward the teacher and giving a thumbs up. By the time the bell is done ringing, the classroom should be completely quiet and composed. All of the teachers in the school have been given a bell to use as a redirect as well. The lab school also has a three-step redirect system that they utilize, that looks like this: 1st redirect: Politely remind the student to get back on track. 2nd redirect: Politely ask them to change their behavior and tell them what type of behavior is expected. Also remind them that the next time they will have a discussion in the hall. 3rd redirect: Talk with the student in the hall about their behavior if there is another redirect the student may be removed from the room. 4th redirect: Problem solving contract, where the student and teacher talk about what they can do to adjust these behaviors. 5th redirect: Admin support in office
Conflict may occasionally happen at the lab school, but from what we have seen, the classrooms functions as a community and separating students from each other is often the best way to address a problem.
The Safe School Program The Safe School Program is in place throughout the Pouder School District. It is focused on crisis prevention and management. It is the responsibility of the Principal at each school to uphold the four plans associated with this program:
1) A designated and trained crisis response team will come up with a plan on how to react. 2) Lockdown, fire evacuation and severe weather procedures, come up with a plan that becomes their routine action. 3) Access and building check-in procedures, have a system in place to know who is in the building at all times. 4) Staff training and plan for yearly drills and procedures, make sure that these drills are the routines so that everyone knows what to do, by practicing these drills it helps the students prepare and know what to do for an emergency.
Students with Special Needs Maureen Gates is the current paraprofessional who assists with special needs population at the school. Although the Lab School does not have a traditional Special education program, they exercise a nondiscrimination policy.
The Lab School for Creative Learning employs the SWAP program through the Poudre School District. SWAP or School to Work Alliance Program is a free transitional program that helps students with special needs find and keep a job.
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