Explorience: WPS started a new instructional experience for first grade students two weeks ago. This experiential learning time happens every Monday afternoon and lasts for 70 minutes. Children have a choice regarding which sessions they attend, led by a teacher who facilitates multidisciplinary study and “hands on” work related to various academic standards. This time each week is called Explorience, and already, the students can’t wait to go to their next class. Teachers lead the same experience each week for eight weeks based on standards across at least two content areas, with new students joining them every Monday from all of the grade level sections.
The Explorience time is focused on active learning. Children receive a short introductory lesson, time and materials to create and explore ways to meet objectives, then end with time to reflect and journal about their learning. This integration of writing is very intentional and is a great catalyst for later discussion and writing in the classroom.
One goal, although not the primary motivation for Explorience, was improved attendance on Mondays. Already students look forward to this time and don’t want to miss it. We will monitor this data over the next few months to determine if there is any impact on attendance as a result of this initiative. Kindergarten students will begin Explorience in November to allow them time to adapt to school.
iReady and the Summer Slide: A big concern for educators is the frequent loss of learning over the summer months. Often, student reading scores decline and there is a period of time needed to review information that was introduced the previous spring. Our district assessment system, iReady, allows us to compare the scale scores for reading at the end of kindergarten to those of the same children at the beginning of first grade. It is exciting to report that in the spring 22% of kindergarten students were at the lowest reading level for their grade, but two weeks into the fall of first grade only 13% of children were at that level.
This indicates that a lot of learning was retained over the summer and that some children even grew! This makes a large impact on the progress first grade students can make in the few weeks of school. This is a very positive sign that learning is powerful enough to be maintained over the summer months, and that the efforts to teach parents how to support student learning at home is having a positive influence.