We get asked this question a lot, and it’s a fair one, since our program has continually been evolving since it began in 2012. Discovery Lab began as a grassroots quest to provide more educational options for families and students in Kittitas County. A group of concerned parents and educators began envisioning a way to create a program that would be responsive to 21st Century Learning Ideals, and be able to adapt quickly and constructively to the needs of it’s learners. While there is a very entertaining blog post waiting to be written someday about the History of DL, for the time being, I will focus on describing the program we have grown to become.
Our Student Makeup and Daily Operations
Currently we have one classroom with 8 students between the ages of Kindergarten and Third Grade. We find the multi-age classroom to provide a more true-to-life setting for kids to learn how to cooperate, work together and to proceed academically at their own pace rather than according to a predetermined time table based solely on age. Our class meets Monday through Thursday from 9am – 3pm, with occasional field trips or visits to Hearthstone Assisted Living Facility scheduled for Fridays. Due to increased demand, we are working to provide 2 classrooms for next year – one for students in grades K-2 and one for students in grades 3-5.
We rely heavily on the use of Project-Based Learning in our Classroom. This video gives a brief explanation of PBL, what it is and why it is so effective as a model for teaching. Projects are organized around driving questions, and culminate in a demonstration of learning that often has a practical application for the community. For example, Discovery Lab students did a Project earlier this year on Homelessness in our Community. Through this project they read about the issue, wrote about it, discussed it as a class, went on a field trip to the local Food Bank and then used math to help them build their own bags of supplies that they could keep in their parent’s cars and hand out to homeless people around town. Project Based Learning cultivates deeper learning that is meaningful to the students and their community. Stay tuned for further blogs illustrating some of our projects and how we they align with Common Core Standards.
Integrating Art and Music into the Curriculum
We believe in the importance of educating the whole child. Our curriculum is aligned around Common Core Standards and we care deeply that our students are growing in their academics. We feel that artistic skills and expression are equally important in healthy education and development. At Discovery Lab, Art and Music are not stand alone classes, rather they are integrated into much of what the children do throughout the day. It isn’t unusual to see a child creating an art project to go with their written book report or to hear Teacher Kyle helping kids write songs about math facts. We find that integrating the arts into our daily work increases the students’ enjoyment, motivation and creativity.
We are a community school, which means we view our role as a partnership with the families that send their kids to us. We believe that parents know their kids best and we value their thoughts and ideas. Further, Discovery Lab families volunteer to serve roles in our school to help keep our cost of tuition low, and because of this, families in our school tend to form a dynamic community of their own. In addition to our own DL community, we strive to include our students in their local community as much as possible; this means we take multiple field trips, bring in guest speakers, and design projects that have an impact on the places where we live.
If you have more questions about our program or are interested in enrollment for 2018/19, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discovery Lab Students are…
Take time to consider and potentially challenge viewpoints
Show concern for, and actively value, others
Set their own priorities and are self-aware
Willing to consider new ideas
Come up with new or different ways of doing something
Challenge themselves to communicate, listen actively and present new ideas
Are curious to explore new ways of thinking
Will embrace knowledge and apply it to a wider context
Capable of thinking or acting for themselves; will take an intellectual risk
Ready and willing to learn from all experiences whether or not
they are successful