What is EL Education?
EL Education, formerly known as Expeditionary Learning, is a hands-on approach to teaching that provides children with the opportunity to explore, learn, and grow through meaningful interactions at home, at school, and in the community. For 25 years, educators all over the United States have been using this framework to increase engagement and curiosity in their classrooms. As of November 2017, St. Francis is now one of 152 schools in the U.S., and one of the first Early Childhood Centers, to use the EL Education model to ignite curiosity in the classroom.
How does the model work?
An expedition is created by our teachers using the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards. Based on the interests of our children, teachers will choose a topic of study and develop a guiding question that will be the overarching theme of the expedition. Case studies related to the guiding question are planned by the teacher, but are flexible in the idea that student interest will guide the course of the expedition. The expeditions at St. Francis will typically last 6-8 weeks and take place in our Preschool, PreKindergarten, and Kindergarten classrooms.
EL Education at St. Francis Children’s Center
This past November, Ms. Liz Rickaby and Ms. Kris Kimber led our first expedition, “The Pint-Sized Scientist”, in the Kindergarten classroom. Ms. Liz noticed how inquisitive her students were and decided to engage them using the EL Education model. She piqued their curiosity by posing the guiding question, “How does a scientist study their world?”
To begin the expedition, students built their background knowledge on scientists by listening to non-fiction texts and brainstorming a list of questions they wondered about. They participated in three case studies during this expedition: the five senses, an in-depth exploration of rocks, and the different types of scientists. Our pint-sized scientists concluded their expedition by creating a final product to demonstrate and share with everyone what they had learned.
Students shared the knowledge they gained and their final product at the Celebration of Learning on December 20, 2017. The Celebration of Learning, the culminating event of every expedition, is a time for parents, staff, students, and community members to celebrate the achievements and hard-work of each student. For their final product, St. Francis’ Kindergarteners wrote and illustrated a book called “How Does a Scientist Study Their World?” Each student created a page in the book by choosing which scientist they wanted to be and wrote about how they would study their world. You can see their book on display in our front lobby.
On Monday, February 5, 2018, our Preschool, PreKindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms will be kicking off their expedition on dinosaurs. Be sure to check back in for progress on their learning!
Ms. Jane and Ms. Patsy’s Preschool classroom – “What is a dinosaur?”
Ms. Molly and Ms. May’s PreKindergarten Classroom – “What happened to the dinosaurs?”
Ms. Melanie and Ms. Kris’ Kindergarten classroom – “What happened to the dinosaurs?”
Our Celebration of Learning for our dinosaur expeditions will be on the morning of Wednesday, March 21, 2018. Our doors will be open for everyone to come celebrate the learning journey of our children, so be sure to save the date!
More information on EL
If you are interested in learning more about EL Education, you can visit their website at eleducation.org. If you have additional questions, feel free to stop by my office or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kim Evans, Early Childhood Education Program Manager