From the office, to the halls, to the classrooms, the focus on Expeditionary Learning (EL) is clear at Springville K-8. Opened six years ago, Springville is the neighborhood elementary school.
From kindergarten through the 8th grade, all 910 Springville students are taught using the Expeditionary Learning approach. "It's the first time I've been in a school where there is such commonality in the instructional strategies we use in the classrooms and the instructional language that we use across the school," says Principal Cheryl Ames.
The EL approach creates broad and deep units of study centered on learning standards of Social Studies and Science. Reading and Writing literacy standards in integrated into the unit, with a focus on non-fiction. Students participate in field studies, built into the unit. The field studies, which are different than a typical field trip, add to the learning experience and are used for continued learning experiences.
Culture and character are also integrated into the program. "We are being really intentional about strategies for establishing a strong school culture and embedding character trait development," says Ames.
The approach includes having students create multiple drafts of artwork and writing. Ames points out a kindergarten student's leaf drawings. The first attempt in early October looks like a rectangle with a bit of a stem. It is black and white. You can see the progression in the second and third drawings, and by the fourth picture, the leaf really looks like a leaf, colored bright yellow. This is part of the kindergarten's expedition surrounding the study of trees.
Students at Springville also benefit from the K-8 model. Older students act as mentors to younger students. They also take leadership roles with the school, leading assemblies and directing kids to buses at the end of the school day.