Classroom Practices in HighScope’s Elementary Learning Design
Classroom practices in HighScope’s elementary learning design are based on current research on achievement and learning (both child and adult).The following elements are intertwined to create a seamless, authentic educational experience from preschool through the elementary grades.
Active learning — Just as in the HighScope preschool program, active learning incorporates these ingredients:
Engagement with materials, actions and events, and/or ideas
Opportunities to make choices and decisions when appropriate
Communication with others (gestural, spoken, and written; words, sounds, and images; in-person and electronic)
Support from the teacher, other adults, and peers
Adult-student interaction — A good relationship between the adults and students is critical to develop positive attitudes toward schooling. It is the job of the teachers and other staff to create a feeling of warmth and support. They get to know each child so they can personalize and individualize learning. The staff forms a partnership with families to acknowledge their importance in the student’s education and help them extend classroom learning at home.
The environment — In designing the learning environment, teachers and administrators consider the physical layout, social climate, organization of materials, esthetics, and cultural factors. Classrooms are arranged by subject areas (e.g., math, reading, writing, science, art, music, construction, drama) with interesting and relevant materials, tools, and other resources easily accessible and well organized. There are spaces for the whole group to gather (on the floor and at tables), and areas for children to work in small groups or individually. Outdoor spaces are designed to promote vigorous physical activity, social interaction, and engagement with nature. The school and classroom climates are warm, respectful, fun, and welcoming.
Daily schedule — Children learn best when they follow a consistent schedule each day. With some flexibility for interests and special events, the schedule includes whole-group interactive learning, small-group workshops, one-on-one conferring and teaching, student-initiated projects (see plan-do-review), and times when the group leaves the room for special classes. All these experiences create a balance of teacher- and child-planned activities.
Plan-do-review — Students are intrinsically motivated to pursue their own interests. The three-step plan-do-review sequence. comprising approximately one hour a day, provides guidance and support as students create their own learning plans, carry them out, and then reflect on and share their learning. This process, unique to HighScope, begins in preschool but becomes more sophisticated as student’s cognitive and social skills develop through the elementary grades.
Learning strategies — Using the ingredients of active learning, adults design meaningful educational experiences based on standards, 21st century competencies, and other goals. Teachers use ongoing informal and formal assessment to evaluate individual students' progress, build on existing knowledge and skills, and plan for (extend) future learning. Adults use an integrated curriculum and real-life situations to help students make connections between subject areas, for example, between reading and science, mathematics and the arts, or health and social studies.
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