Students at Cannon River STEM School will be involved in inquiry-based, project-based, place-based learning. We believe that learning should extend beyond the walls of a traditional classroom into the natural environment and the local community. The CRSS curriculum will be integrated, so that all subject areas—science, math, language arts and social studies, as well as art, music, and P.E.—will be connected, and students will learn to see all knowledge as connected, rather than artificially separated into discrete disciplines. Authentic project-based, inquiry-based learning will enable students to see the connections between subjects, and the connections between what they are learning and the world around them.
As part of this integrated, project-based approach, CRSS will employ two nationally recognized curriculum models, EIC (Environment as an Integrating Context) and GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment).
Using EIC and GLOBE, CRSS will take students into the field to collect real scientific data and participate in real scientific experiments. The GLOBE Watershed Dynamics Project, for example, enables students “to investigate their own watershed in order to understand the flow of water through the watershed, how human activities within the watershed both depend on and impact its hydrology, and how land use changes can affect the plant and animal communities in the watershed.” Students will have the opportunity to gather and analyze real data, using tools ranging from state-of-the-art geographic information systems (GIS) to old-fashioned close observation.
Though we are a STEM school, we realize that strong reading, writing, and comprehension skills are the gateway to other disciplines. CRSS staff will dedicate a significant portion of each day to build each child’s literacy through differentiated instruction. Literacy centers, games, guided reading, conferencing, ORF (Oral Reading Fluency) checks , and a variety of other strategies will be a part of the curriculum. With our commitment to student-centered, integrated learning, students will engage in a variety of literacy activities in the context of other subjects. This experience will provide students with meaningful opportunities to build connections and utilize their emerging and developing skills.
All CRSS teachers will receive training in EIC and GLOBE, and the entire curriculum will be aligned with Minnesota state academic standards.
As part of its school facility, CRSS hopes to incorporate features such as a weather monitoring station, an organic garden, composting, and solar and/or wind power generation.
Through its integrated, multidisciplinary approach, CRSS will help students develop the higher-level critical thinking skills needed to solve problems in the real world. Just as important, the curriculum will promote the school’s mission of fostering each child’s innate curiosity and joy of discovery.