Remote instruction at Conservatory Lab is grounded in the understanding that positive learning experiences begin with strong relationships. The contents of our third round of learning kits reflect the evolution of our strategy from the rapid translation of existing content last spring to innovative ideas that keep students motivated as they learn from home. From hands-on science experiments to books that introduce powerful role models, these learning kits promise to inspire.
Throughout December, students at the Upper School in grades 3-8 will have the opportunity to come to school to pick up their learning materials and exchange independent reading books after following health protocols including a temperature check and a quick survey.
Families in grades 7 and 8 were also invited to check in with their homeroom teacher for abbreviated student-led conferences. All students at Conservatory Lab demonstrate leadership skills through this process. Every student establishes standards-aligned learning goals with their teacher using a rubric, and then celebrates progress and makes plans for improvement with their family. We prioritized holding this process in person for middle school students so that they have additional practice for their capstone projects this spring.
Teachers and specialists arranged kits on tables in the four corners of the gymnasium into math, humanities, science, and music for an easy pick-up. “Although we always use technology to support what students learn in science, the labor of putting together lab kits with all the physical materials to do experiments at home was worth it,” said science specialist Elizabeth Schibuk who went on to emphasize, “A big goal embedded in the Next Generation Science Standards is learning about scientific processes. Getting hands-on experience helps students visualize themselves as scientists and engineers, making it easier for them to connect to new ideas.”
Every school year, Humanities specialist Melissa Psallidas, who facilitated the professional development session earlier this fall on independent reading during remote learning creates bulletin boards and posters that build students’ relationship with reading. Last year, she started the tradition of a staff reading poster in the main stairwell. To re-create the connection between students and staff, Psallidas added wall-hangings where staff and students can share what they are reading to the pop-up library.
With so much learning mediated by video conferences right now, time devoted to pages and not to screens is more important than ever. Students have a variety of fiction and non-fiction books to choose from, including a shelf dedicated books about Black and Latinx role models who have shaped science, art, and history. In this way, students build relationships not just with their teachers, but with the protagonists and role models they can meet and learn from within the pages of a book.