Renton Prep Christian School’s mission is to offer students a secure environment in a technology enabled and Christ-Centered School. We desire that students learn to use their voice to contribute solutions to the challenges of our global community. Thankfully, this is a value we have grown to experience and will continue to instill. One of the most important aspects of education is emphasizing the importance of student voice. Whether in the classroom, during collaboration projects, or in out-of-school events, it is empowering for students to participate in sharing their voices.
One way to encourage student voice in the classroom is to implement open-ended learning. In this case, students can demonstrate and showcase their learning in a way that is meaningful to them. Also, it exposes students to learning opportunities outside of the classroom, where they can engage in the communities around them. For example, participating in local and global field trips. At Renton Prep, we want our students to practice looking at the world around them and learn to appreciate a different perspective.
Global Goals for Sustainable Development
Over the past few years, our school has been committed to learning more about the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Working together, we can truly bring change to the world. These goals help students learn more about real life issues that are affecting different communities, including children their own age, around the world. We educate students to understand what the problem is and create new ideas on how they can address that issue. Significantly, this is a valuable practice to us because the students see how they can influence change by spreading awareness of different issues around the world. In addition, it continues to help them build empathy in understanding what another person’s life is like, even if they haven’t experienced it themselves.
Value Students’ Perspectives
Overall, we value our students’ perspectives and what is important to them. With that, we work to connect student interest with valuable content. This encourages them to relate to the content and see how their student voice can influence others in a positive way. Using technology tools such as Flipgrid, allows for students to share their voice in a video recording. Students can then post their video to the rest of the class. Then, others can view, like, and comment on them. From a teacher’s perspective, this has been a great way to hear from all of the students. Not to mention, from those who may not necessarily share in a larger class discussion. Because of the video format, students can share their thoughts in an authentic way and practice public speaking skills. For example, it helps them learn to speak clearly and articulate their own thoughts confidently.
In preparation to write their own narratives, students in Kindergarten and Kindergarten Prep have studied the personal narratives of people from around the world. Notably, students were given the opportunity to connect experiences and memories as they began to express their own voice in writing. The students also collected ideas for their stories and gave a voice to their own experiences by creating a heart map.
At Renton Prep, students are taught at a young age to celebrate the differences within each other. This means relating to another’s story, as well as their personal experiences. In addition, Kindergarten and Kindergarten Prep classes worked together on a service project in November, 2019. The goal of the service project was to donate food to a local food bank. Learn more here. As a result, students can develop their own story.
At Renton Prep, student voice is leveraged to create a local and global impact. Educators are committed to cultivating a curriculum that both mirrors our students’ experiences, yet also offers windows into the experiences of others. We have touched base on how the concept of Windows and Mirrors has benefited our school.
“All students deserves a curriculum that mirrors their own experience back to them, upon occasion — thus validating it in the public world of the school. But curriculum must also insist upon the fresh air of windows into the experience of others — who also need and deserve the public validation of the school curriculum.”
– Emily Style, author of Curriculum as Window and Mirror
Before Thanksgiving, we held a Manners celebration. To prepare, we had students work in cross-grade collaborative pairs to research table manners around the world. This gave them the opportunity to understand different cultures and lifestyles. Students created Sway presentations sharing what they have learned. Four of our students Elizabeth, Hannah, Krystal, and Ethan paired up to create two Sway presentations. Overall, they describe the food and table manners from countries all over the world. Elizabeth and Hannah included manners from Germany, China, Ethiopia, and Egypt while Krystal and Ethan shared on Afghanistan, Chile, Thailand, and Colombia. Although manners are worldwide forms of polite social behavior, all manners vary from country to country.
At the beginning of the year, students began by reflecting on the history of their name. The process involved interviewing their families and researching the meaning of their names. One student, Afomeya Hailu shared her experience with personalized learning.
A holistic curriculum that values student perspective and voice also develops empathy for self and others. Empathy is a valuable and necessary life skill which encourages self-reflection and a commitment to growth. Fourth Grade students have used Design Thinking to practice empathy. For example, students were challenged to create a solution to end poverty using gingerbread house supplies. Learn more about their work here.
Student Voice is Essential
Overall, it is clear that Renton Prep values student voice. We are thankful to have been given so many opportunities and more coming. 2020 will be an amazing year to dive deeper into our mission. We are so thankful for our Renton Prep Christian School family. Contact us today to enroll your child and learn more about our school.