At Fiddlehead School students are greeted individually and by name as they enter the building and their classrooms. The arrival to school is viewed as an important transition time that sets the tone for the day ahead. Students engage right away in work, but also in the social context of school—greeting friends and taking part in a morning meeting ritual that brings their classroom community together. Teachers review the plans for the day and give students an idea of what they can expect from the day ahead.

Throughout the day students take part in lessons and activities that highlight our core beliefs that learning takes place in a social context, that curriculum should engage the whole child, that the teacher is a facilitator and co-creator of learning with students, that curriculum and instruction should be differentiated to meet the range of learners, and that subjects can be taught in an integrated way.

In many classrooms this looks like partner or group projects tackling the domains of literacy, math, science and social studies. It also means that our two teacher model in each classroom is utilized to its fullest extent as we tailor lessons and activities to the individual learners in our classes—creating extensions and challenges for students who are ready for more and building interventions for students who need greater support.

An example of our integrated and project-based approach is the weaving and textile study that fourth grade did last year. Stemming from student interest in finger weaving, the fourth grade teacher designed a study that incorporated many domains of learning. Students tackled mathematics topics such as measurement, calculation, and basic engineering as they worked to build a five foot tall “Earth Loom” that is now a permanent installation on our playground. They explored all areas of ELA by reading traditional folktales involving weaving and then writing their own story which they transformed into a play. Social studies were a rich topic to explore as students learned about weaving and textile traditions from different cultures around the world.