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"We are a crew, not passengers!"
posted by: Cindy Omlin | October 15, 2014, 07:48 PM   

potato gleaningExpeditionary learning is a national model of school reform which emphasizes digging into a topic in great depth.  This year, PCCS first- and second-graders are literally doing just that as they glean potatoes from local fields post potato harvest as part of their study on the science of potatoes.  They’ll study potato plant attributes in detail and move on to explore the economics of the potato, Idaho’s official state vegetable, in the spring.

In the expeditionary learning method used at PCCS, teachers are called “crew leaders” in conjunction with the school’s motto which is, “We are a crew, not passengers.”  Crew leaders are “committed to taking kids out of the classroom and into situations where they will learn by doing.”

At the potato fields, crew leaders help students partner up, learn how to be good partners, and set goals to beat the amount donated by a previous crew. NWPE member and crew leader Sarah Casper remarked for the Journal, “They often respond to this experience with a lot of “I’m so tired!” (and) “Those potatoes are so heavy!” “But they are proud of the pile they are able to amass by the end.”

As reported by the Journal, “Students later tour the local Foodbank pantry and calculate the number of donated potatoes. Crew leaders said they hope the unit will help students develop traits like perseverance, teamwork and service, as well as an interest in learning more.

“Having this shared experience not only gives them an opportunity to do service, but it also gets them excited to learn more about potatoes and other plants,” Casper said. “They become the leaders of their learning. Rather than waiting for me, their teacher, to tell them what we are learning next, they are driving the direction of the learning with their own curiosity and desire to learn more about the potato.””

sarah casperSarah believes that Expeditionary Learning is a unique and exceptional model of school reform that emphasizes student responsibility, critical thinking, collaborative learning, and character traits such as grit and perseverance to name only a few.  "These are skills and attitudes that will enable students to succeed both within the classroom and into the world beyond.  My role as 'crew leader' is much more full-filling than I had every thought possible because I have the support of our entire PCCS community as well as the EL network in teaching my students not only the content they will need to be successful, but also the personal fortitude to be good people as well as."

colleen broce

NWPE member and PCCS special education teacher Colleen Broce adds, "I love working at PCCS. All of our staff collaborates which creates a whole school environment of authentic engaged learning practices, ownership of the learning process, and higher quality work. Our focus on the expeditionary learning process also pushes for arduous in-depth study, the documentation of which is aligned with the common core standards."

Congratulations to the teachers and staff at PCCS.  With crew like you, we'd all like to be passengers!

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