A message from Sue Denny, principal at Stanley Elementary
The teachers here at Stanley have been working very hard collaboratively to plan, deve1op and present units of study that connect. The connecting theme has been "Family". The connections they make are across the curriculum using the concept of family as it relates to math, social studies, science, language and literature. The teachers help students to see patterns and relationships among numbers (math families). They discuss the social order of animals and of insects drawing contrasts and comparisons to families. As they study the other cultures of the world, they talk about the importance of families in every culture and ultimately how the cultures of the past have shaped our culture and families of today. They have reamed about the patterns of language whether in Spanish class or in the early reading skills of phonetic decoding and they have talked in terms of families of sounds and letters. Teachers have used good literature as a backdrop to the Family Theme, sharing folktales, and historical novels, futuristic stories and picture books. Some students have been mesmerized by the oral storytelling of old American Indian tales.
A critical piece of building a connected curriculum is the inclusion of the arts as well as good literature. Here at Stanley we are fortunate that our fine arts teachers and our librarian are skilled in helping all of us look for and build upon the strands of our curriculum to make meaningful connections. These special area teachers not only plan for art and music and literature experiences to relate to and support the academic experiences of students, they help their colleagues see the connections from kindergarten to fi0h grade. Because they work with all levels, they have to know about the units of study occurring at all levels. They are able to assist classroom teachers in the collaborative planning of units of study because of this day to day information.
Why is "Connectedness" so important? Why do teachers spend so many hours talking to each other, planning and preparing to create a learning experience with connections to other learning experiences? Because, the application of the most current research on the brain and learning tells teachers that children learn best when they can draw upon all of their experiences to make sense of new concepts and ideas. The brain searches for common patterns and connections in order to make meaning of learning. In effect, our staff is a loom, weaving together facts and information to create a fabric of learning for your children. When you read the following activities be sure to look past the surface to see if you can find the fabric of connectedness we have woven.