EPiC Elementary and Project Bright Spots

For the month of September, EPiC was invited to participate in Project Bright Spots, a collaborative platform created by The Lean Lab (an education non-profit in Kansas City) to “collide” educators seeking innovative educational opportunities and educational reform. Project Bright Spots was launched last spring (per a Mozilla Gigabit fund) by two young women who have great visions for Kansas City and for providing opportunities for conversations, innovation, and excellent education for all students. Not only is this a place for us to share ideas and inspirations, but it is a great place to process and unpack our vision for EPiC—Empowering Creativity, Equipping Students, Engaging Communities. I’ve been so impressed with the EPiC staff and their ability to not only articulate the vision but to implement it into the every day of EPiC and to truly dig deeper into what it looks like for students.

And for me, in my journey, writing the posts was a fantastic opportunity to envision beyond today and to explore options and opportunities into what school might be for kids.

I think this was one of my favorite post to write because of “fearless in his creativity.”

Creating and building an all project-based learning school is a fascinating journey. Yes, we have lesson plans, but they don’t look much like our lesson plan books of yesterday. Big ideas, explorations, inquiry, creative opportunities, self-direction, writing for media. These are what fill our lesson plan books, or should we say Google Docs and Sites, as we equip our modern learners for their tomorrow.

For years and years, we (a sweeping generalization of educators) have organized lessons in buckets of created worksheets, projects, tests, activities that are predominately teacher-directed and controlled providing students an opportunity to perform their learning for us and only us. With PBL, we are trying to change that approach and provide students an opportunity to develop their own voice, practice their own choices for an authentic audience that exists beyond the classroom.

With project-based learning, EPiC students have produced authentic products such as stop motion animation videos, kid blogs, science experiments, story videos, butterfly gardens–all of which give them an opportunity to mimic what real life might be like once they leave the classroom. Collaboration, creativity, communication, critical thinking. These essential skill sets are embedded in their process as they design, create, and produce.

Studio K has been investigating the season of fall through experiments, paper creations, demonstrations, and explorations. Recently, a parent sent the following e-mail to the teachers:

Our son is so excited to learn how to make apple trees at school!  He came home yesterday and started making a forest.  Since starting kindergarten he has become fearless with his creativity in all different mediums – Legos, drawing and projects like this.  He will spend hours, literally, focused on creating.  You’ve really got his wheels turning.  Thanks!  🙂

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