Structures and Systems:
Orsch does its best to offer current paradigms in education, always offering students engaging lessons.
- Experiential Learning
- Differentiated Learning
- Project-Based Learning
- Multiage Practices
- Individualized Approaches
- Internet-based Personalized Lessons and Assignments
- Cooperative Learning and collaborative groups
Grouping is an essential piece of any good paradigm. In the real world each of us belongs to several groups – family, work, social groups, athletic groups. Orsch strives to offer students many collaborative moments throughout the day. Groups can be arranged or self chosen – we frequently use both. Following are some of the grouping options we use.
Whole group consists of all of Orsch’s students
Skill level groups are established for targeted activities or lessons of all kinds
Multiage groups are smaller groups (5-7 students) from all ages. These groups collaborate on projects using the skills and talents of each member, even if one of the member’s best skills is coloring.
Small groups can be skill based or interest based and can be homogeneous or heterogeneous in skill level and/or interest.
Partnerships are another grouping option we utilize regularly. Partners offer productivity, accountability and comradary. Partnerships can be skills based, interest based or skills opposite based (Big Kids helping Pints) “Birthday Partners” are everyone’s favorite – we match our oldest student with our youngest student, next oldest with next youngest…
Today’s student has endless opportunities for resources and tools. Students can find the correct spelling of a word quickly using technology. Students can visualize mathematics easily with base ten blocks – there are countless invaluable tools out there. We teach the use of tools and resources at every turn.
Not every tool appeals to every student – students will gravitate to the ones that help them most. Students also show an interest in learning about other tools as they see their peers using them. Allowing students the freedom to use resources and tools gives them confidence to tackle and master anything.
Grids are the our most favorite invention! Grids offer the best of Orsch Philosophy in one place. Grids are designed to offer independence, freedom, creativity and variety. Grids are a tool for engagement and have proven to be an effective method to independence for every student. Every student loves a grid! For an example of our grid click here (We published this during Seuss month last year): Orsch’s Seuss Grid
Grids can be:
- Theme Based
- Skills Based
- Subject Based
- Project Based
Every week Orsch students have an awards ceremony. Students are awarded for exemplary performance in any realm – school work, behavior, kindness. Awards are a means to promote excellence. We have seen this method encourage great work ethic and citizenship among students. When exceptional work is shown publicly the bar is raised for everyone. Positive modeling ignites and inspires others to work hard and do their best. Even the smallest of goals can be awarded – awards are very individualized. For example, a student could be awarded for completing a five page essay while another is awarded for completing a compound sentence.
Awards are done whole group – the audience is attentive, polite and honors those being awarded.
We meet weekly as an entire school to solve problems of all kinds. Students are invited to submit a complaint or issue either in writing or in person. We listen to each other and come up with solution on the spot. The spectrum of solutions is broad, ranging from “Where should we relocate the pencils for better efficiency” to “I feel excluded – please help me solve this.”
Students respond very positively to Solutions Day – we now can’t imagine an environment without regular solutions meetings!
Orsch assessments come in many forms. Most assessments are product and/or portfolio based, although, as needed we assess students using traditional methods so that we can plan their programming appropriately. Orsch does not participate in standardized testing as we see little benefit to such approaches.
Assignments must be 100% proficient before they are complete – we do not grade on a percentage basis, but prefer to assess based on aptitude and complete proficiency.