Every morning, each student is greeted at the door with a “Good Morning,” and a handshake or hug by Mr. Fitts, Mrs. Stokes, or a staff member.
The space is open, with high ceilings and beautiful, modern furniture. It doesn’t look like a traditional school; it is more like a kid’s Starbucks with books and games and the sound of happy kids. There is a large learning center and classrooms that are without doors. There are learning conversations full of excitement and inquiry.
Passionate Teachers Specialize
Teachers are waiting for students to arrive, greeting each with smiles and encouraging words. Each teacher specializes in a particular grade level for homeroom, and in grades 4-8, in a specific core subject or discipline. For example, the fourth-grade homeroom teacher teaches science, because he loves science. The fifth-grade homeroom teacher teaches writing, the sixth teaches reading/literature. The seventh-grade homeroom teacher teaches a new class called “I Learn,” and the eighth-grade teacher teaches history/social studies.
The teachers are passionate about learning and about unleashing the potential of every single student. This passion is contagious. In the midst of this enthusiasm, skill, and innovation, students become excited to learn from true mentors.
Primary Classrooms in Conversation
In primary classrooms, students join teachers whose eyes light up when they enter the room. Students engage in conversations in a highly cooperative environment. In classrooms throughout the Center, individuals connect with one another by participating in circle conversations, group sharing, planning community service, and in reviewing important school and life issues.
Intermediate Studios with New Learning Methods
In grades 4-8, students learn about the subject that is the teacher’s chosen subject. After first period, the entire class moves to the next “studio,” learning about science, history, literature, writing and learning to learn. Teachers meet with small groups while others are engaged in skill centers, projects, reading, researching, digital production, completing assessments or in generative conversations with their co-learners. Teachers are consulting, mentoring, brainstorming, and assisting learners.
Student Voice and Choice
Students set their own goals, in consultation with their teachers, with attention to the Common Core and State Standards. Students learn in small groups or independently, working at centers that utilize multi-sensory, multi-media approaches. They choose assignments and strategies in consideration of their preferred learning styles, intelligences, talents, interests, developmental level and more. Some students may be wearing earphones in response to the need for quiet. Some are completing assessments to help them check proficiency. Some are on the internet researching or designing media with iPads, computers, chrome books or other digital devices.
Students Engaged in Fun Projects
Students can be seen working on independent projects, distinct from their peers as they prepare to share their finished products in exhibitions for peers, parents and the greater iShine community. Students are sharing in oral presentations, songs, dances, created games and more. You can see students giving feedback with appreciative comments. You will also notice students presenting to classmates in speeches, oral reports, PowerPoint outlines, iMovies, poetry and/or musical compositions.
If you are lucky enough to come on a Thursday, you can observe our enrichment classes that we call “labs.” Students select two classes that last 4 weeks. They can be seen drawing, painting, cooking, knitting, singing, dancing, constructing, experimenting, acting, and reciting poetry. They may be creating Lego designs, designing digital productions, writing creative essays, debating, producing musical theater, doing calligraphy and more. There is excitement in the air. Students are exuberantly sharing their learning adventures with everyone who is willing to listen to their stories.
You will see volunteer parents and community members all around the center, tutoring, assisting with critical thinking, creativity, innovation, organization and involved in general support. They are happy, helpful and encouraging.
The iShine Student Center is a place of joy. As students gather to go home, there is a genuine sense of pride in an exciting day of learning and a feeling, “we can’t wait to see you again.”
Innovation is Fundamental
You’re invited to join what our students call “the innovation nation.”