Lower School News
"Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” --Dalai Lama
Graded’s Classroom Without Walls (CWW) trips extend students’ academic skills to authentic, real-life situations through a series of academic, social, and interpersonal learning experiences occurring outside a traditional classroom setting. Learning about symbiotic relationships, indigenous cultures, ocean swells, the biodiversity of the rainforest, or the effects of erosion in a classroom setting is valuable. However, to make these lessons memorable and formative in the long term, there needs to be an experience attached to the idea. There exists a wealth of research that champions the importance of learning in context: learning by doing rather than observing. By actually exploring a cathedral, cavern, or rural community, students will experience higher levels of action, collaboration, and reflection in their learning. Some students will experience puppet-making and stone-carving, while others will ride a boat through a river community. Some will traverse the Mata Atlântica, while others will explore historic gold mines. Some will ramble through the installations and gardens of Inhotim, while others will wade waist-deep in cave waters. In addition to an opportunity to bond with their classmates, students will also get to see Brazil through a new lens and develop an especially keen understanding of what impacts the lives of people and their environments.
We believe that the Graded CWW program enhances the Upper School curriculum by exposing students to new cultures, and academic and personal growth opportunities that cannot be achieved in a regular classroom setting. Each grade level might travel to different destinations, but the program objectives and learning goals are consistent for each trip in the areas of cultural understanding, personal growth, and curriculum enrichment.
To promote an appreciation of cultural understanding, students participate in a number of local activities and interact with residents to understand how life in other parts of Brazil differs from their own experiences. Students may have the opportunity to learn a traditional dance or song or visit a historical site that will help to develop an appreciation for cultural diversity and traditions.
The CWW experience offers the opportunity for students to grow and mature in their interpersonal relationships and to develop a sense of independence through adventure. Traveling challenges students to be responsible and teaches students to step out of their comfort zone. Trip activities are designed to encourage students to build relationships and further develop social skills.
The CWW experience extends the Upper School curriculum and learning objectives outside the walls of Graded. Each destination is truly a classroom without walls, and learning objectives are tied to activities and projects. Trip leaders work with students in small groups and provide prompts throughout the week to challenge students to make connections between the places they visit and their own life experiences.
As we welcome back our trip participants this week, we are excited to hear about the wonderful memories made and to watch the learning and growth that occur as a result of their CWW experiences.