Students are at the center of their own learning at Conservatory Lab. To deepen their learning in subjects like literacy and math, students complete learning expeditions, which are meaningful academic projects through fieldwork, reading, that allows students to take ownership of their learning and make interdisciplinary connections.
At the end of each learning expedition, students celebrate their work by hosting a Celebration of Learning. Families, students, and other members of our learning community are invited to come into the classroom for a presentation which might take many shapes, including a museum, performance, or interactive presentation.
Knowing that they get to publicly celebrate their work at the end of a unit motivates students to create high-quality work. Teachers and peers support each other through the preparation process, reflecting on their own progress, and learning to critique and take feedback.
Our monthly Friday Finales at the Lower School are a part of this practice. They are a chance for our K1 – Gr. 2 students to gather together and share their work with families and each other on a regular basis.
Students who are presenting situate themselves in the middle of the orchestra room and their peers file in around them as Teachers and Resident Artists sing with students who are already sitting. Finally, the families file in. Opening with song makes the atmosphere joyful and gives students an informal opportunity to practice their musicianship skills, both as active listeners who file in quietly and as performers and participants in the chorus.
After everyone is settled, groups of students who are presenting share their work. A recent post featured a Friday Finale from last spring, in which students presented their work from the “Sun Moon and Stars” science, music, and arts integration expedition.
Having a routine order of events helps students know what to expect, so most Friday Finales follow the same format.
For example, last November, Students in Grade 1 shared some projects they are working on about their own identities and citizenship skills. One student read a book about her identity, and a group of students shared “Our Magnificent Thing,” a resource they created to fill a need they saw in their classroom: People were losing things, so they created a lost and found box.
Then members of the newly christened Celia Cruz Orchestra, celebrated their first performance earlier in the month at the Boston Children’s Museum, particularly honoring students who were unable to attend that performance.
Then teachers presented HOWL’s awards for each classroom. HOWL is short for Habits of Work and Learning. Teachers explained how each student they honored demonstrated Cooperation, Responsibility, Empathy, Perseverance, and Reflection, building a positive culture around our classroom communities.