Marisa Renee Brown

Elementary Experience: Westminster Public Schools

Setting & Context

Demographics:

District Demographics:

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Demographic Characteristics:

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Flynn A Marzano Academy Demographics:

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Sherrelwood Elementary Demographics:

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District Mission & Vision

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Westminster Public Schools is where "Education is Personal". From the WPS website:

"The Westminster Public Schools Competency Based System (CBS) recognizes that every child learns differently, and their learning should be personalized so they are engaged at all times.

 

CBS requires students to show mastery of learning topics before moving on to the next level. This approach allows some students to progress quicker, while others may take more time to learn. The end goal is that students are prepared for the all important day after graduation."

More can be learned about Competency Based Education by following the link below.

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School-wide Policies for Management:

At both schools, students work in collaboration with teachers to create shared visions (or code of conduct) for each classroom. These visions are based around the school-wide code ROARS at Sherrelwood and SOAR at Flynn (see below). Students feel ownership over these codes since they helped to create them. There is also a common language in the school that students and teachers can use to name behaviors. There are PBIS awards at each school given to students who follow these codes of conduct. Classroom interventions are required when students are not following the shared codes of conduct and there is a referral system at each school for major or repeat offenses.

 

At Sherrelwood Elementary, students follow ROARS:

Respect

Open Communication

Achievement

Responsibility

Safety

 

 

 

At Flynn A Marzano Academy students follow SOAR:

Self Control

Ownership

Attitude

Respect

 

 

 

Classroom Environment:

Each classroom is a small space with 5-6 tables for students with 5-6 chairs each. Each classroom has a sink and a few cupboards for storage. Both classrooms have a desktop computer, a projector mounted to the ceiling, and a document camera for presenting images. Student works spaces are divided into "centers" with permanent centers including: Drawing, Collage, Painting, and Building. Pop-up centers are created for students to experience new media such as print-making, fibers, jewelry, and clay.

 

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At the beginning of each class students are greeted and welcomed in to the classroom. Classroom routines provide structure for students. After entering, students are given a short demonstration, a chance to practice the technique or concept demonstrated, and subsequent work-time. Students are encouraged to explore their own ideas as artists in their own studio space. At the end of class, students care for materials by cleaning up and putting them in the correct center. Students feel ownership over their environment and learning process because of their choices and agency with in the art room. Students are also able to feel like a part of a community because they are often encouraged to collaborate and be kind to others.

Teaching Philosophy:

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Students were encouraged to explore their own ideas in art class. They were introduced to a Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) three sentence curriculum: the students are the artists, the art room is their studio, and they will do what artists do. Demonstrations and instruction at the beginning of class as well as require skill-builders ask students to grapple with new content and techniques in art while the studio time allows them to engage in their own ideas of interest. Instruction topics are based on state standards and assessment evidence is collected from student progress and final artworks.  This environment allows for student independence and choice at all levels which in turn leads to increased student engagement and ownership. The TAB classroom cultivates 21st century skills in students including collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-reliance.

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