Each day, children will have opportunities to engage in whole class, small group, partner and independent activities. There are multiple opportunities for students to express their autonomy through planning their use of time, contributing ideas, as well as feeling the important sense of safety through routine and consistency. The nature of the daily schedule is such that students are offered many choices regarding their level of participation in any given activity. Educational goals for the children are based on an understanding of the individual child’s needs, abilities and interests. The teachers act as facilitators, challenging and supporting students to extend themselves and construct knowledge. Some whole group teaching takes place in the form of mini-lessons and discussion, however, the majority of time is spent in small collaborative groups doing project-based activities and learning exercises. Interaction with nature is essential for healthy cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development. Therefore, outdoor play and discovery is an integral part of The Knowing Garden.
We create possibilities for every student to engage the following personal goals:
o Develop a belief in oneself as a competent learner
o Pursue information and master new skills
o Instill awareness of learning style
o Approach experiences with curiosity and inquisitiveness
o Develop confidence in problem-solving and decision-making
o Organize and communicate thoughts and ideas
o Develop perseverance to complete a project
o Formulate personal learning goal
o Develop and apply safety rules
o Understand the bodily need for activity and relaxation
o Exercise fine motor control and eye/hand coordination
o Improve muscle coordination, increase endurance
o Learn positive ways to release tension
o Sense the benefits of teamwork and cooperation
o Develop consciousness of healthy and sustainable living
o Strengthen a positive self-image
o Develop autonomy, initiative, and a sense of competence
o Responsibility for self and actions
o Develop self-control and patience
o Establish a sense of trust and safety
o Cooperate with others; Understand differences
o Respect the rights of others and accept limits
o Develop personal values
o Consider and listen to different perspectives
o Care about, empathize with and help others
o Take alternative approaches to solving problems
o Communicate confidently with peers and adults
o Develop effective leadership skills
Developmental goals and the curriculum/environment are inseparable. Together, they form a developmental approach to education that enables a more individualized format. We place a high value on the knowledge children bring to school. Their existing skills and interests are used as a starting point to explore broader learning goals. The curriculum considers the guidelines established by the Common Core Standards, with an emphasis on the cumulative results rather than year by year requirements.
Magdalena Garcia, School Builder/7 to 9 Lead Teacher
Lena is a UC Santa Cruz alum with a bachelors in Psychology as well as a UCLA graduate with a masters degree in education. She has been an elementary school teacher for 13 years. In addition to being a classroom teacher, she has also been a teacher coach and mentor teacher. She has served as an educational consultant for the Natural history museum helping to create project-based, art infused resources to support museum exhibits. Lena strives to create connection with children through listening and playing and is always looking for an opportunity for collaboration and learning with adults and children alike. Lena joined TKG when her daughter enrolled in the first year of the school. She served as the founding teacher’s mentor and curriculum consultant and in 2013 became the School Builder and 7 to 9 Classroom teacher to answer the call of designing a school where a student’s potential comes first.
Michelle Goldbach-Johnson, Founding Teacher/5 to 7 Lead Teacher
Michelle knew she wanted to be in education when her high school English Lit teacher assigned a “Carpe Diem” project. She spent the following days running in sprinklers, writing poems about mud, and waking up in time for sunrise. From this exercise, she discovered that THIS is where the real learning takes place and thus what kind of teacher she wanted to be. Years later she earned her BA in Liberal Studies and Multiple Subject Teacher Credential at CSU Long Beach. Michelle has worked as a teacher in several districts in the region and was especially affected by her experience at the Art Zone. The Artzone 4 Kids, in Hemosa Beach, provided an opportunity to practice her skills in empathetic language in a rich and supportive environment. Michelle has been teaching for 5 years and continues to be enthusiastic about implementing hands-on-minds-on learning at the Knowing Garden! Aside from teaching, she is a kid at heart and enjoys spending time with her husband, dog, reading, gardening, camping, crafting, practicing yoga, traveling, and occasionally bungee jumping.
Yvette B. Fenton, TKG Co-Teacher 5-7 Classroom
Yvette finds that the curiosity of children fuels her love of learning. She sees her role in the classroom as a collaborator, learner, and researcher. She received her BA in Child & Adolescent Development from California State University Fullerton. She then attended Loyola Marymount University, where she received her MA in Literacy & Language and multiple subject teaching credential. She has taught in various capacities in Huntington Beach, Santa Monica, Lawndale and Hawthorne. Yvette also enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter. They often spend their time together outdoors, camping, swimming in lakes, building sandcastles and snowboarding.
Elle Swartz, TKG Co-Teacher, 7-9 Classroom
For the past six years, Elle has worked within the private and public school systems in NYC, both in high school and elementary school settings. Her specialization is in Visual Art Education, and she uses this lens to mentor students in inquiry based learning across all subjects. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Studio Art (2005) and Master’s degree in Art Education (2009) at the New York University, Steinhardt School of Education in New York, NY. She has been featured in art exhibitions in Manhattan and Brooklyn and on the Dean’s Research Travel Colloquium to Andalusia, Spain in 2004.
Elle believes: “…teaching art is not only about teaching principles of design or how to include value in a drawing, but it is about tapping into a well of creativity that the students may never have known they possessed. Teaching art is about helping the students find their voice as an individual in this world. Through themed, project based assessments, students explore materials, make discoveries, and create artwork that means something to them. Process is just as important, if not more important, than product, and students feel free to take risks, make mistakes, and learn!”
The indoor and outdoor classroom is structured in a way to encourage cooperation and exploratory learning. There are community tables and spots for collaborative learning and group projects. There are also spaces available for children to work individually at their own pace. The classroom is arranged to allow for ease of movement and comfort.
Each class will reach capacity at 15 students, facilitated by one teacher. The environment and low-ratios will be supported by co-teachers and parent teachers (volunteers).
Classroom Areas will include:
o Math resources: manipulatives for hands-on-experiences, charts/number lines
o Writing resources: thick & thin markers, crayons, pens, colored pencils, pencils, erasers, lined paper, blank paper, writing pages, individual folders, display areas, publishing equipment
o Science resources: places for experiments, unit study display, non-fiction books, questions to ponder, items to investigate
o Reading resources: organized, accessible, inviting and labeled containing leveled practice books, high interest books, picture books, chapter books, read-aloud books
o Art Studio: high quality materials for students to explore concepts including paint, clay, wire, beads, found objects, fabric, recycled materials, natural materials
o Dramatic Play and Building: blocks, animals, puppets, building materials, fabric for costumes
o General Materials: with support, students can request materials that may not be immediately available