HighScope Elementary Approach: Classroom Environment (page 3)
The High/Scope Elementary Curriculum is designed for a full-school-year program (approximately 180 full days). The classroom routine, planned to fit a typical full-day program, is designed to be managed by one teacher with approximately 25 children. Also, half-day kindergarten programs as well as nongraded and multiage programs are supported by the methods for managing the learning environment presented in this chapter.
Arranging the Physical Environment: Furniture, Equipment, Supplies
Putting the High/Scope approach into practice often requires some modifications in classroom arrangement and teaching strategies. There must be space for large-group meetings as well as space for small groups of children to meet. In addition, the room (see sample classroom diagram, below) is arranged in designated activity centers where children can work independently on self-selected projects. The activity centers are stocked with a variety of supplies, manipulative materials, and equipment.
The High/Scope elementary educational approach also involves children in using computers and developmentally appropriate software. Computer-assisted activities support the curriculum's active, child-initiated learning emphasis and supplement the teacher's instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, science, creative arts, and problem solving. In the High/Scope classroom, computers are viewed primarily as aids to the teacher in implementing basic curriculum objectives. In light of the demanding nature of the activity-based curriculum model, each classroom is equipped with a computer center containing three or more computers. There should be enough computers so at least one third or one fourth of the class can use them at once (up to two children per computer).
Scheduling Daily Classroom Activities
Three basic components of the daily classroom routine are large-group or circle activities, small-group workshops, and independent work in activity centers during the plan-do-review process. Large- and small-group times lend themselves to the introduction of new materials or presentation of developmentally appropriate concepts and skills in specific academic areas. Large-group times can also be used for drama, movement and music, games, classroom project presentations, general meetings, and announcements. During plan-do-review, children undertake projects they select themselves based on their own interests and the materials and equipment available in the activity centers.
The High/Scope Curriculum does not prescribe a specific order for the events that make up the classroom daily schedule. While incorporating the key elements described above, any specific schedule of particular classrooms also reflects the needs and preferences of individual teachers and the scheduling requirements of individual schools. The sample schedules presented below represent specific implementations of the High/Scope Curriculum.
The daily schedule includes time for lunch, physical education, recess, movement, music, art, and other activities that either occur outside the classroom or involve a special teacher. These activities often must be scheduled on a schoolwide basis and thus may not conform to the classroom schedule. Time must be allotted within the day to accommodate such events, but whenever possible, workshops and activity periods should be preserved as unbroken units.
Half-Day Kindergarten Sample Schedule
8:30 - 8:50 Opening/circle (song & movement)
8:50 - 9:30 Plan-do-review
9:30 - 10:30 Language/math workshop
10:30 - 11:00 Outside play/snack/movement
11:00 - 11:30 Movement/music/story
11:30 Song & dismissal
Full-Day Kindergarten Sample Schedule
8:30 - 9:00 Opening/circle (song & movement)
9:00 - 9:45 Plan-do-review
9:45 - 10:45 Language/math workshop
10:45 - 11:15 Music & movement
11:15 - 11:45 Lunch
11:45 - 12:00 Prepare for outside
12:00 - 12:30 Outside play/movement
12:30 - 1:00 Circle or theme activity/movement
1:00 - 1:40 All read/write
1:40 - 2:00 Movement/physical education
2:00 - 2:20 Story
2:20 Song & dismissal
First Grade Sample Schedule
8:30 - 8:50 Opening (song & movement)
8:50 - 9:20 Music
9:20 - 10:30 Math workshop
10:30 - 10:45 Story time
10:45 - 11:10 Whole-group reading
11:10 - 12:10 Language workshop
12:10 - 12:35 Lunch
12:35 - 1:05 Science/social studies
1:05 - 1:35 Movement/physical education
1:35 - 2:50 Plan-do-review
2:50 Song & dismissal
Second Grade Sample Schedule
8:10 - 8:30 Opening (song & movement)
8:30 - 9:00 Music
9:00 - 9:30 Science/social studies
9:30 - 10:15 Math workshop
10:15 - 11:05 All read
11:05 - 11:35 Movement/physical education
11:35 - 11:55 Calendar & wash-up
11:55 - 12:25 Lunch
12:25 - 12:45 Story time
12:45 - 1:45 Language workshop
1:45 - 2:50 Plan-do-review
2:50 Song & dismissal
Third Grade Sample Schedule
8:30 - 8:55 Opening (song & movement)
8:55 - 9:55 Math workshop
9:55 - 10:05 Music transition
10:05 - 10:40 Movement/physical education
10:40 - 12:20 Language workshop
12:20 - 1:05 Lunch
1:05 - 1:45 Music/science/social studies
1:45 - 2:50 Plan-do-review
2:50 Song & dismissal
Activity Periods: The Plan-Do-Review Sequence
As mentioned above, the activity periods are key blocks of time in the daily routine during which children work through the plan-do-review sequence. Briefly, this is a sequence in which children, with the help of the teacher, initiate plans for projects or activities; work in learning centers to implement their plans; and then review what they have done with the teacher and their fellow classmates, perhaps by presenting an oral or written report, a drawing, or a dramatization. Through this process, the High/Scope Curriculum enables children to take initiative and become responsible for their own actions. The plan-do-review sequence involves children in making choices and decisions. It also provides teachers with a structured framework within which to manage the activity period as an effective learning tool.
The activity periods present opportunities for children to use representation—speaking, writing, imitating, building, drawing—as a vehicle for employing their newly acquired knowledge and learning new concepts and skills. It should be noted that the learning opportunities during the activity periods cut across curricular areas, as children may work through different projects involving math, language, science, and art. Furthermore, the plan-do-review sequence may take place in any of the classroom activity centers, including the computer station. Teachers support children's implementation of their plans as well as their representations by engaging in appropriate dialogue with the children during these phases. In addition, they help children reflect on the outcomes of their activities at review time.
Planning allows children to consider the what, where, when, how, and perhaps why of what they will be for the next time period (or for multiple time blocks, for older children). Planning may be as simple as an oral commitment, such as "I am going to the listening center to listen to Blueberries for Sal," or it may involve a written description of a project involving both art and math materials. In thinking about and planning classroom events, children develop a sense of predictability, control, and ownership of a smoothly functioning classroom routine.
Doing means action—working with materials, interacting with other children, choosing, creating, sharing. The active learning process of doing is the curriculum's way of tapping the child's innate interests and motivation. It is also a way of stimulating the child's higher order thinking abilities through the application of skills to problem-solving tasks. Doing involves building; experimenting; cooperating in games, drama, or writing projects; and using computers and materials. Planning guides the work segment by helping children structure their own activities and take responsibility for seeing them through. Cleanup, following each activity period, restores materials to their original places and prepares the room for the next day.
Reviewing completes the plan-do-review cycle. Reviewing (or recalling) involves putting what one has done into words or pictures and sharing the representation with other children, teachers, or parents. Reviewing provides opportunities to assume personal responsibility as well as to account to the teacher and to the other children. What was planned? What was accomplished? What might be done differently next time? The plan-do-review sequence best occupies a single unit of time between 45 minutes and an hour or more in length. Planning immediately precedes doing, which is immediately followed by reviewing. However, for older children, this schedule may be relaxed to allow for the most efficient use of time. For example, planning by older children may take place as soon as they arrive at school and before the beginning of other activities, such as circle time or small groups
Workshops for Math, Language, Science, and Other Topics
Workshops are a means of harnessing the resources of the classroom computers, activity centers, and teacher-led instruction for language, mathematics, and other topic-related or integrated learning experiences. During each workshop, three or four small groups of children, working at separate stations (including the computer area), are engaged simultaneously in different topic-related activities. The children rotate among the computer center and the small-group workshops, either within the workshop period or on subsequent days. During workshop times, teachers may focus on one or two groups while other groups work relatively independently, or they may adopt a more general focus, observing and assisting children throughout the room as needed.
The Curricular Areas
In recognition of the different and discrete aspects of human knowledge, the High/Scope Curriculum is structured to allow children to develop in accordance with their particular strengths. This approach to learning and development is in agreement with the multifaceted view of intelligence elaborated by psychologist Howard Gardner.1 Intelligence, as defined by Gardner, is "the ability to solve problems, or to fashion products, that are valued in one or more cultural settings". Gardner identifies seven intelligences as major components of skilled human behavior: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. The High/Scope Curriculum is likewise organized with the aim of helping children develop skills that are necessary to solve problems or create products, but it assigns particular significance to those skills that are functionally important in today's world. Thus, the High/Scope Curriculum incorporates seven primary curricular areas:
- Fine arts
- Physical education/movement
- Social studies and social-emotional development
In concert with Gardner's view that each of the "intelligences" should have equal educational priority, the High/Scope Curriculum views each area of intelligence as a body of skills and knowledge with an underlying developmental sequence and framework. It is the aim of the High/Scope Elementary Curriculum to provide the essential teaching materials for effective support of children's learning in each of these areas.
The High/Scope Elementary Curriculum implements specific strategies for classroom arrangement and for establishing and managing the daily schedule of activities. High/Scope classrooms provide spaces for large and small groups and for materials in a variety of activity centers. Daily schedules include time for large-group activities such as circle times, for a sequence of small-group instructional workshops, and for the plan-do-review sequence of student-selected activities. The classroom arrangement and schedule of events provide the stage upon which the curriculum activities are played out each day.
1 H. Gardner, "Developing the Spectrum of Human Intelligences," Harvard Educational Review 57(2) (1984): 187-93.
For more information on the elementary approach, mailto: email@example.com
Reprinted with the permission of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation. © 2007 All rights reserved.
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