Finding a Focus

Mt. Eagle Elementary is finding new ways to incorporate the Young Scholars model into their curriculum. During a unit on biographical filmmaking, teachers work cooperatively to prepare students for the coming school year, using materials and sources that relate to the lives of the diverse student population.

Mt. Eagle’s summer school curriculum combines skills with citizenship.

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Kate Baldwin enjoys teaching in a new content area.

As students file into Mt. Eagle Elementary School, teachers Kate Baldwin and Nikki Heinlein wait in their respective classrooms for their first through third grade students. Though she teaches music during the school year, Kate was excited when her principal approached her about instructing summer school classes based on the Young Scholars model. This small group environment allows her to interact one-on-one with students and to help integrate critical thinking and speaking skills into their learning.

Young Scholars summer school programs

Today, Kate is facilitating a storyboarding lesson during which students map out biographical content about a chosen historical figure. Her curriculum stems from a professional development opportunity provided by her district at the Library of Congress.

Individuals Make a Difference curriculum from the Library of Congress

Because they received the same training and planned their lessons together, Kate knows that her colleague Nikki will pick up where she left off. For each day of the summer program, Kate teaches Block 1, while Nikki teaches the same group afterward. Having a co-teacher feels good to Kate—she is seeing the connections that students are making and how the Individuals Make a Difference curriculum brings culturally relevant issues to student learning.

Nikki uses student conferencing to help students link knowledge to skills.

The summer school format allows teachers flexibility and fluidity in their unit planning. To reinforce writing and editing skills, Nikki has students share their movie narrations and provide feedback to one another. Students like Kaya benefit from the experience, in terms of confidence and learning content—both of which are goals of the Young Scholars curriculum.

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Kaya responds to her classmate.

As a veteran teacher, Nikki sees the value of having students see themselves as writers. She encourages curiosity and exploration as she ties the current lesson in with broader concepts.

See Dawn Hendrick, Assistant Principal, Mount Eagle Elementary