Investigating School Communities

Deepening Understanding Through Reflection and Making


- Our year-long theme

- Focus on interdependence of a community

- School community is common for all children


- What is a community?

- Brainstorm recorded and posted to share communal thinking

- Focus on their questions and wonderings about the community

- We use lots of sticky notes!


- Students went in pairs to investigate spaces and interview faculty and staff about their jobs at school

- Report findings back to class through iMovies

- Reporting includes reflection on what was learned and what the process of interviewing was like for the students; were there any unexpected moments?

Needs and Wants

- Investigated wants and needs at schools over time

- Ruby Bridges

- Think Book entry: What do you think "Needs" and "Wants" mean?

- Brainstorm in partnerships first

Thinking Routines

What do you see? What does that make you think about? What wonderings or questions do you have?

- Students viewed the following pictures and were guided through a thinking routine to really examine needs and wants at a school
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- Taking their experiences from the discussions, interviews, investigations, and explorations of photographs, students record what they think is needed at a school

- We used lots of sticky notes!

- Break into categories: school supplies, classroom areas, support areas, people, play spaces, personal needs

- Students decide together as a group what is really needed in every school

Floor Plans

What do you notice about these floor plans? Any similarities? Differences?
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- After examining these two floor plans, students decided what type of school they were going to design and create

- Floor plan/map needs to include the school NEEDS they all agreed to

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Process, not Product

- Focus is on the process of designing a school building model

- Students inspiring each other's work

- Dedicated space to leave out work in progress

- Mid-building process: Painted Reflection Journal entry - "Reflect on your school design and building experience. What surprised you?"
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When building was complete, use Book Creator to record your experience

  • What is the name of your school?
  • What happens there? How are you meeting the students' needs?
  • What was challenging for you about this process?
  • What did you like the most?
  • What else would you like us to know about your school?

Sharing Work With Others

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Teacher Reflection presented at DC-Project Zero Exhibition of Teacher and Student Learning