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The 4 "C"s

July 27, 2017
By Sean Corcoran

For those of you who have been around our school any length of time at all, you have probably heard me talk about the fact that when it comes to our academic approach, we are driven by two questions - what is best for our students; and is it supported by research? These questions are the filter we always use when we consider making changes to our curriculum, teaching strategies or pedagogy, or  even our something as simple as our schedule. Our desire is to regularly take a critical look at our program and to always be looking for opportunities to improve the experience our students have at school each day.  

It is with this mindset that I am excited to share with you some changes for our 4th and 5th grade students. In education, the battle of the ages is time! Everyone wants more of it, but we are limited in the amount of time we have with our students each day. Over the years, we have crammed more activity into this space (all with good intentions). The result is that often classroom teachers do not feel like they have enough time to adequatly cover the basics and to offer the "extras" that all good teachers like to do. Conversely,  fine arts teachers can also feel the same way about their subjects since students do not have as much time in their classes as they do with their classroom teachers. There is plenty of research that shows that a robust fine arts offerings are also very important to the overall development of children. Balancing time between the core academic classes and the fine arts can become a difficult obstacle when a school is considering offering something new. We have spent the last few weeks working through these issues. 

Through the years, I have had the opportunity to lead many SAIS accreditation visits to some really good schools across the southeast.  One of my favorite things about this work is the opportunity to see and learn from other the schools that I get to work with.  I find the entire process rewarding because it often affirms what our teachers are doing every day here at BBS.  It also provides me the opportunity to see different instructional strategies in action. Back in April, I was conducting a visit for SAIS to an excellent school in Atlanta. I was excited to see their appoach to some unusual (and really cool!) fine arts classes at the elementary level.  This visit led me to begin envisioning doing our own version of these classes at BBS. So the question is, what am I talking about, and how does it affect our students? In August, we are introducing what we are calling "The Four C's" to our 4th and 5th grade students fine arts rotation.  They will still have art, music, library, P.E., Bible, Spanish class, and spend time in our amazing STEM lab each week, but now will also have  coding, cooking, chess, and carpentry! There is research (see below) that specifically supports the critical thinking development of students as they experience each of these classes. Students will begin the first quarter with coding, then will have cooking/culinary in the 2nd 9 weeks. They will begin the second semester with chess, and will finish the year with carpentry. More details will be coming soon, but we are extremely excited to be able to provide these unique learning opportunties to our students.  

Want to learn more about what research says about each of these topics?
Coding 
Cooking  
Chess 
Carpentry