New Elementary Learning Maps Center Student Voice and Provide Restorative Reflection for Teachers
One of the primary goals of the work is to develop year-to-year "maps" that detail students’ actual experiences in the ICSD. The team hopes to do this by highlighting a day in the classroom from each of our eight elementary schools that illustrates how students are building a deep understanding of, and ability to respond to, the ways in which power, privilege, and oppression show up in our world. The new elementary Learning Maps will capture the lived experiences of young learners and the ways in which educators are supporting students to feel heard, represented, and respected through the learning they experience in our classrooms.
The maps are also varied by grade level. The group developed summary statements to represent the biggest difference between each K-5 grade level. For example, kindergarteners are “learning school and learning themselves” and fifth graders are “building on and zooming out, ready for more ownership and independence.”
Emily Graber, a third-grade educator at Cayuga Heights Elementary, has worked alongside the Learning Maps cohort since its inception. She reflects on the nature of this professional development group as particularly “creative, innovative, and dedicated.” While other groups may land in a similar place to where they started, Emily notes that the Learning Maps group is “especially responsive to change.” While ideas initially stemmed from teacher viewpoints, it really took off when they began to ask: How do we involve students in the process? Since then, student feedback and initiative guide the group’s direction.
In recent meetings, the group has evaluated how to package the Learning Maps for ease of use and distribution among teachers. “We’re really trying to consider every stakeholder and be innovative in lockstep with the district’s mission and vision,” Graber said.
The Learning Maps cohort looks forward to sharing more updates on their progress soon. Keep an eye on our website for the newest additions to our Anti-Marginalization Units of Study and Learning Forward ICSD.
THE HISTORY OF LEARNING MAPS
When it comes to teaching and learning, the Ithaca City School District takes a distinct approach. Our educators make the NYS standards come alive by focusing on real-world issues and needs and providing authentic experiences that promote engagement and deep learning of content. We look for ways to foster interdisciplinary connections and embed authentic, performance-based assessments that mimic the real world and build student ownership of the learning. When students are able to connect the teachings to their real lives, we see student learning greatly enhanced.Learning Maps provide an overview for teachers to use throughout the course of a year as they develop their own lessons through an anti-racist lens. Teachers meet frequently throughout the year to build upon existing Learning Maps. Our vision is that all ICSD elementary students experience an anti-racist and anti-marginalization curriculum that is meaningful, connected, and standards-based.