Vacations are essential to our wellbeing for a number of reasons—a change of scenery can keep us healthy, strengthen bonds with loved ones, and relieve stress. However, the most positive impact of a vacation is something we might not even think about: a good vacation promotes inspiration and creativity, giving us plenty of ideas to bring back home to put into use in our daily lives.
This summer, two LFCDS teachers traveled to pretty remarkable places—and what they learned will have a direct impact on what they teach (and how they teach it) in their own classrooms.
In June and July, Junior Kindergarten teacher Mimi Aiston engaged in a whirlwind tour of Europe, where she was able to visit the Louis Malaguzzi International Center in Reggio Emilia, Italy. The Reggio Approach is an educational philosophy inspired by Louis Malaguzzi, a primary school teacher who felt that the early years of development are when a child realizes who he or she is as an individual. To that end, he created a program based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment. His program began after World War II, after he saw how devastating the war and its after affects were for the young children in his city of Reggio Emilia.
If these principles sound familiar, it's because they are exactly what we strive to teach at LFCDS, and for Mrs. Aiston, it was very reaffirming to be able to tour the
center. "The environment that we create in our Junior Kindergarten classroom
follows the same idea as the Reggio Approach," she says. "Malaguzzi encouraged
project-based, experiential learning, just like we do here."
In addition to visiting the Malaguzzi Center, Mrs. Aiston also toured a number of art museums and famous art settings. Part of the curriculum in Mrs. Aiston and Mrs. Lupton's class includes the study of famous artists, and in touring the Musee de l'Orangerie and Auguste Rodin's home and museum in Paris as well as Monet's home (that's Mimi on his doorstep in one of the photos!) and gardens in Giverny, Mrs. Aiston was able to take many photographs to show her class. She then biked 270 kilometers through Switzerland, Austria, and Germany—but that's a story for a different day!
Third-grade teacher Cindy Edwards stayed stateside and traveled to Plymouth, MA, a town which holds great significance in American history. The town was the site of the colony founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims, who were passengers on the Mayflower (By the way, the town is spelled both ways; Plimoth refers to the historical spelling).
"For our Pioneer Days unit, we wanted to expand our Native American curriculum a bit more," she says. To do that, Ms. Edwards visted Plymouth Rock and a replica of the Mayflower as well as toured Plimoth Plantation, a year-round indoor/outdoor experiential learning environment. The permanent exhibits at Plimoth tell the interwoven story of two distinct cultures—the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indian tribe—during the 17th Century.
The Wampanoag Homesite is portrayed exactly how it would have looked in the early 1600s. Ms. Edwards was able to talk with modern-day Wampanoag Indians, dressed in period clothes and doing a variety of activities, such as drying out furs, cooking, and crafting mishoons—the Wampanoag word for boat—using fire as a tool to hollow out a tree. On the other side of the plantation, Pilgrims are also dressed in costume, doing exactly what they would have been doing in that time period: gardening, rethatching roofs, and storing wood for the winter. "The people on both sides of the camp were facinating to talk with," says Ms. Edwards. "I
learned so much about the philosophies of both cultures."
Ms. Edwards says she looks forward to incorporating her travels into the classroom—particularly when it comes to focusing on the Wampanoag tribe. She's
also looking foward to spending time with her class on primary source documents
such as the Mayflower Doctrine. "There's so much to learn from these historical
works," she says. The bonus part of Ms. Edwards' trip was getting to spend time
with her son Tanner, who is a graduate of LFCDS and is a senior at Boston
College, studying History and Political Science (the picture Ms. Edwards and Tanner was taken at the Massachusetts State House, where Tanner is
currently interning with a State Senator).