Curriculum Corner: Celebrating Our Communities

Celebrating our community is an ongoing goal for us at Rainbow Riders.  Our community includes not only the families and staff who fill our buildings but also reaches beyond our walls to include our town, our university community, our partnerships as well as many varied public facilities such as libraries, parks and hiking trails.  There are many opportunities for our children to learn more about the world around them. As we continue defining the culture of our Program, we celebrate gathering multiple perspectives to be a part of developing a richer sense of community.  

One of the ways many schools gather together to celebrate community is through the idea of an “umbrella project”.  This term is used to represent a series of investigations in the classroom based on a single big idea. The schools of Reggio Emilia embrace this metaphoric term as a way to connect students across classrooms.  Like an umbrella, the idea encompasses one big concept, rich enough to sustain a long term study and guides us in planning for curriculum for the year. 

Using the intention of a school wide umbrella project, we hope:

•         To continue to develop rich relationships,

•         To increase our chances for collaborations and

•         To discover more shared goals across the two sites, further strengthening our image of community.

At our annual staff retreat teachers were asked to think about what questions they had about the groups of children in their classrooms.  Based on those answers, teachers brainstormed about areas of learning they would like to spend the year understanding and researching.  The following questions helped guide our discussions and gave us a path to begin following.

What do the children have a right to explore?

What are some of the things that the children want to learn about?

What projects might work in our school?

What ideas have your heard revisited in your classrooms, year after year?

What are the desires and wishes of the children in your classroom?

What are some themes motivated by our search to bring us together as a community?

What emerging interests will draw in children, families, teachers and the larger community (VA. Tech, VCOM, Town of Blacksburg, etc. )?

What languages, concepts, and ideas are the children exploring?

What are ideas or topics the children explore every year (surrounding rituals, traditions or simple exploration)?

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