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A Comprehensive K-12 Curriculum Framework


Philosophy of Education

K12Together combines a commitment to two principles: First, building on the natural learning ability of every child through teacher-directed exploratory learning and multiage learning teams, and second, integrating classic fields of knowledge with significant skills in an iterative, systematic way.

1. K12Together builds on the natural learning ability of every child.

K12Together promotes a methodology of learning that builds on the natural learning ability of every child, extending that confidence into academic fields of study through teacher-directed exploratory learning and multiage learning teams.

a. The teacher directs exploratory learning

In K12Together, the teacher’s job is to empower the students to become effective learners. Instead of being the sole repository of knowledge, the teacher trains the students to find the answers they need, in their books, on the internet, as well as from others in the classroom or community. Though the content of K12Together is systematic and comprehensive, the teacher is able to promote exploratory learning by asking questions and assisting the students in skill-developing learning experiences (reading, experimenting, interviewing, creating, etc.). The students share what they are learning with the other students and the teacher, and everyone learns together. Thus the classroom becomes a learning team.

When the teacher promotes exploratory learning:

  • Natural curiosity is harnessed. Exploratory learning follows the natural means of learning that people use from the time they are born. Therefore, it keeps alive their natural curiosity while encouraging students to continue to develop their skills of self-teaching.
  • Self-confidence is discovered. When students discover information for themselves and share it with each other, they feel greater enthusiasm for the subject and gain confidence in their own ability to learn.
  • Learning becomes life-long. The importance of learning how to learn should not be underestimated. In many ways, this skill is the most important skill of all. Many great men, like Abraham Lincoln, were so poor they never had the opportunity to attend schools or buy many books, but they became great because they learned how to seek out what they wanted to learn. Students are much more likely to engage with and remember what they have learned when they have searched out and made the discovery for themselves and then shared it with others.
  • Interests are re-enforced. Exploratory learning enables the students to focus on areas of their interest within a larger directed topic. For example, when studying ancient Egypt, the girls may choose to study how they cooked, dressed, and raised their children, or why they mummified cats. The boys might want to know how they built the pyramids, what kinds of boats they used, or what weapons they used in war. Students can research their areas of interest and report back to the rest of the group what had been discovered, so that all the students are exposed to all the findings.
  • Teachers can approach new subjects confidently. A teacher can confidently tackle even a subject he or she knows little about, because she or he can learn alongside the students. The teacher role becomes training the students to learn, by being able to suggest avenues for finding information, people to interview, places to get books to look at, or sites to read on the internet. Since these skills remain similar for all subjects, the teacher must learn how to coach learners instead of needing to become an expert in all subject areas.
  • Teacher preparation time is minimized. Exploratory learning lifts the burden for finding and communicating all the information off of the teacher. Instead, students teach each other by demonstrating what they have learned various ways, showing off their areas of gifting. Crafts and activities are often student initiated and resourced instead of prepared in advance with the teacher’s time and resources. K12Together lists suggested activities that are student-run learning opportunities.

b. The classroom functions as a team:

K12Together is specifically designed to encourage group learning–multiage or same age. Group learning does not have to be collaborative in such a way that one person ends up doing all the work while the rest of the group takes the credit. Instead, each person can be asked to contribute their piece of the overall puzzle, researching an area of their interest to contribute to the topic under investigation.

When students are formed into learning teams:

  • Relationships are built. Team-oriented learning builds relationships between the student-learners, as well as with the teacher-trainers. Students also build camaraderie with their siblings when children from the same family study the same subjects together. Relationships develop with their parents and community as students solicit help in finding answers or solving problems.
  • Collaboration replaces competition. Children thrive on collaborative learning. They will often work harder for a team than for themselves. Helping each other becomes positive instead of “cheating.” Groups of students can and should work on things together. Going to school changes from being a boring lonely chore to an anticipated experience when students are not just allowed but encouraged to help each other learn and understand.
  • Students learn mentoring skills. In multi-age classrooms, older students are great assets. They become assistant teacher-coaches in many ways, modeling active learning in everything from computer skills to presentations. Younger students can be involved in more complicated experiments, projects, plays or productions, if they are on teams with older students. The opportunity builds respect and appreciation for children of other ages. In non-school contexts, children learn most of their skills from older children, not necessarily adults. Multiage learning teams can harness this form of natural inter-age mentoring in the classroom environment.

 

2. K12Together integrates content and skills in a systematic way.

K12Together believes that students need to learn classic content, values, and skills in a systematic way, by building both their skills and knowledge from year to year in an iterative process.

a. The content is classic, integrated, and systematic.

The K12Together curriculum provides comprehensive coverage of topics foundational to a thorough education. But many curricula do that. What makes K12Together’s content unique is that it integrates subjects that are usually taught with no interconnections. This integration creates significantly deeper understanding and insight. Also, the content is organized in a way that develops knowledge incrementally. Using the flow of history as a backbone, K12Together traces the growth and spread of civilizations, simultaneously incorporating literature, language arts, religion, philosophy, science, and technology. As a result, the learners’ growth of understanding reflects the progression of insight of mankind itself. Focusing on classic fields of knowledge, K12Together does not incorporate faddish or pop culture things, which children will pick up from media.

Students’ learning is maximized, and wasteful activities are minimized, by combining subjects together. For example, WWII biographies and fictional literature connect  students emotionally to the complexity and atrocities of that war. Historical facts are learned along with classic values such as respect for humanity, integrity, self-sacrifice, generosity, humor, and hard work. As the students trace the stages of WWII on a world map (geography), analyze inventions that turned the course of the war (technology), and discover how sonar and radar work (physics), all these subjects come alive.

K12Together lists books for each unit that will help you integrate the subjects. These include specific suggestions for interesting and appropriate children’s literature for all reading levels that integrate with the content being studied in that unit. The only subjects taught independently–for which you will need a separate curriculum–are mathematics, and beginning phonics, handwriting, and grammar skills.

b. The skills are classic, integrated, and systematic.

In addition to teaching students how to learn, K12Together promotes systematic development of the classic skills associated with a quality education. Classic skills include: clear thinking, writing, and speaking; reading with comprehension and discernment; and investigating using the scientific method and effective research skills.

However, more uniquely, K12Together integrates the learning of age-appropriate skills with the content. William Bennett promotes such skills/content integration in his book The Educated Child (2000), emphasizing that a rigorous teaching of skills in language arts and math, should be blended with high-level content in history, geography, literature, and science.

While the skill of learning is the most fundamental to and imbedded within K12Together, practical skills are also integrated into the suggested learning activities such as skills in geography, computers, health, or first aid. Properly implemented, K12Together integrates all skill development, including art and music, with the rest of the curriculum.

In order to ensure systematic development of skills, K12Together includes extensive and comprehensive skill development lists, with approximate age/grade expectations. These lists aid teachers in tracking and evaluating student progress in a variety of areas. Supplemental curricula will only be needed for mathematics and fundamental reading and handwriting skills. Obviously, specialized skills such as playing a particular instrument will also require outside training.

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