Educational theorist William Glasser said,
So, if I wanted language to become long term memory for students, I was going to have to create personal experiences that were memorable. For six and seven years olds, that meant integrating hands-on opportunities.
In the back of my mind and in my heart, I always felt the fixation of focusing instructional time to only language arts and math was not right. The messaging when assessment results came in or when asked to create a daily schedule for the year fostered this hyper-focus on reading, writing and math.
Another challenge I faced was equity. If I provided something different from my colleagues, was that fair to students who were in the same grade level but not in my class?
We started with a team of 24 first graders. Here's our initial stats:
71% identified by their family as English Language Learners (ELLs)
63% male and 37% female
25% had Individualized Education Plans (IEP)
Then on the 46th day of school, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the class roster changed and only ten of the initial students remained. Our new stats were:
80% male and 20% female
20% had IEPs
The "loop hole" to overcoming the challenge of language arts and math being our primary focus meant I needed to integrate art and engineering into a core content area. Since I wanted to improve language skills for students, specifically around academic and expressive language, integrating into English Language Arts (ELA) seems like a natural fit. Much of this is what influenced the creation of my logo. I wanted language arts to be an anchor or foundation. Then the addition of art and engineering infused lessons to be what sparked student language. My school has a strong culture around leadership so I wanted to play on the acronym, LEAD (Language, Engineering, Art, and Design).