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Charting your own path to knowledge in Eagle

Katie Drucker
kdrucker@eaglevalleyenterprise.com
Eagle, CO Colorado

EAGLE, Colorado ” Eagle Valley Elementary School’s curriculum is being repackaged.

The school has officially become a candidate school for the International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Program, a program designed to develop the whole child through integrated studies and critical thinking.

The International Baccalaureate offers educational programs to a community of schools worldwide. There are more than 669,000 students in the program at 2,449 schools in 131 countries.

Eagle Valley Elementary is in the second year of a four-year implementation of the program. Last year, 10 teachers were sent to training for the program. This year, three out of the six units taught in the program are being conducted at the school.

“The reason why I looked into this is because we have always achieved at high levels relative to our district and Colorado. But our population is rapidly changing. … I wanted to keep rigor in our school by bringing a rigorous program at the elementary school level,” said Monica Lammers, principal of the program and a product of an International Baccalaureate program herself.

Lammers said that American education is experiencing a period of immense testing. As a result, the arts are often dropped from programs. But International Baccalaureate schools strive to include the arts, while continuing to teach required subjects.

Eagle Valley Elementary students are taught the same unit, in every class, for four to six weeks. Each grade is taught age-appropriate units matching each theme. The themes for the units are:

– “Who we are.”

– “Where we are in place and time.”

– “How we express ourselves.”

– “How the world works.”

– “How we organize ourselves.”

– “Sharing the planet.”

For example, fifth-graders recently finished a unit on U.S history and immigration, falling under the “who are we” theme.

For the first two weeks of the unit, students were inundated with information about these topics in every class. After two weeks of gaining background knowledge, students had an opportunity to ask their teachers questions. Based on those questions, teachers determined which students were most interested in citizens rights and the courts. Teachers then based the next few weeks of class on these topics and concluded the unit with a trip to the county courthouse.

At the courthouse, Judge Katharine T. Sullivan prepared hypothetical situations, forcing students to critically think about the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved and to apply what they had learned about the Bill of Rights, said Liz Karr, International Baccalaureate coordinator at EVES.

“Student-driven inquiry makes this program very different,” Lammers said. “Students end up owning their own learning.”

“Sitting in the jury box, asking questions from the podium, watching a classmate being sworn in are all memories our fifth-graders will remember for a long time,” Karr said.

For more information on this program, visit http://www.ibo.org.


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