In My Classroom: Into the Woods with Jen Wilson’s Kindergarten

Jen Wilson, kindergarten teacher at Cook Hill School in Wallingford and SEC alumna from 2017, embodies this ethos. This year, she and the school librarian, Anna O’Brien, were awarded a grant from the Wallingford Education Foundation to develop a program they are calling KinderTinker. Modeled after a program started by teachers at Moses Y Beach Elementary School called KinderWoods, Jen and Anna are bringing the learning outside. Each month, Jen’s class of kindergarteners are playing and learning in different natural spaces around Wallingford or on their own school grounds. In these outings, the children have time for extended free play and exploration, as well as structured STEAM based activities that tie into the kindergarten science units.

Student Reflections on Learning at CSS

Call it project based-learning, 21st century skills, or progressive education – these Cold Spring School students’ reflections on their learning from the fort project illustrate what good teaching looks like. Watch three students share about their experiences and note that they highlight, in their own words, the process of collaborating with peers, problem-solving, learning how to be flexible within their team, acting as entrepreneurs, and using their imaginations – all critical skills in any of these pedagogical frameworks – as essential components of their learning:

In My Classroom: Tapping into Local Resources in Diane Huot’s 1st Grade Classroom

In the summer of 2015, Conte West Hills School first grade teacher Diane Huot attended Seedlings for the first time. On the first day of every SEC summer workshop week, participants learn to see New Haven with fresh eyes through a tour of the city. One of the stops is to Grannis Island, the summer home of the Quinnipiac people, who used the salt marsh as a home base for oystering. Diane was inspired. Here was a rich resource just down the street from her school that was previously unknown to her. She could imagine building her whole curriculum around it, as SEC science facilitator Karen Zwick has done with her 4th and 5th grade class at Cold Spring School – and she did.

In My Classroom: Process Art in Shandra Patton’s PreK Classroom

Step into Shandra Patton’s pre-K classroom at Augusta Lewis Troup School in New Haven, and several things become immediately clear, just by observing the physical space: (a) Children, their interests, and their needs, are the center of the classroom, rather than the teacher; (b) learning is viewed as a process, not an end product; and (c) art is one of the primary means through which Shandra’s students are constructing and sharing knowledge. Although these messages are communicated clearly in many aspects of the classroom – from the materials offered to children to the way the space is arranged – nowhere is it more evident than in the children’s artwork displayed around the room.

In My Classroom: Connecting With Community Around Student Work At CSS

We’ve all been there. You invite an outside expert into the classroom, eager for her to inspire your students and share her expertise, only to find that your students have suddenly forgotten all the expectations you have worked so hard to establish. Or they are more interested in the fluff stuck in the carpet than what this authority has to say. Or the expert misses the mark on the values you’ve cultivated in your group, perhaps suggesting that some things are only of interest to girls and others to boys. Maybe you wondered why you ever thought it was a good idea in the first place.

In this post, we will reflect on why it is indeed a worthwhile venture to invite local experts into your classroom, by examining the collaboration between Cold Spring School (CSS) and the Yale School of Architecture (YSoA).

In My Classroom: Erin Berthold’s 1st Grade Classroom at Cook Hill School

Despite the fact that Seedlings takes place the week or even DAY after school gets out for the summer, teachers often leave the workshop saying that they wished school was starting the next week. They are eager to put plans into action and try out some of the new ideas they developed. Erin Berthold is one of those teachers who felt the need to immediately get things in motion. All one needs to do is spend one hour in Erin’s 1st grade classroom at Cook Hill School in Wallingford to see many other ways in which Seedlings has impacted her teaching.

In My Classroom: Place-Based Learning at Cold Spring School

The fort project that Cold Spring School (CSS) teachers and SEC facilitators/alumni Joshua Sloat, Karen Zwick, and Laura Sheinkopf crafted for their 4th and 5th grade students is a prime example of project-based learning and integration in action, facilitated by the involvement of an amazing local resource, The Yale School of Architecture.

So how did this process unfold? What were the structures and supports in place that drew children into this project and made it a success? Choose your own adventure by selecting which anchoring theme(s) you would like to explore further: purpose, continuity, and the sequencing of lessons.