A group of kindergarteners at Llewellyn Elementary School in Portland, OR (USA) embarked on their LiD journeys this month. The program is being initiated by a dedicated team of parents who are advocating for project-based learning opportunities. LiD is being piloted this year, with the goal of school-wide adoption in subsequent years.
Our ceremony took place during the school day, with parents and family in attendance. The children talked about LiD the previous week and discussed what it means to be an expert. The excitement and anticipation was building. Because they are kindergartners, rather than an introductory speech, an “ancient scroll” with words of wisdom (in the form of a poem) was read aloud to kick off the ceremony.
The kids chose their topics from a “magic LiD bag.” The bag contained medals and topics were engraved on one side, while “I’m a LiD expert” was engraved on the other side of the medal. Children were also bequeathed their own LiD kit, which contains a dossier, a research journal, and a “did-you know” crazy fact sheet about their topic. Additionally, three topic specific books were provided for use in the classroom for each expert.
We wanted to give our kindergarteners an opportunity to reflect on their topic before talking about it with others. And we decided that art was the best way to accomplish this. Tables were set up with paper and markers. After the last medal had been chosen, the kids were asked to draw whatever came to mind for them as they thought about their topics: something they already know, something they wonder about, etc. Of course, the children were eager to express themselves this way, and they had so much fun drawing! During this time, we spoke with parents in attendance about how to “wonder” out loud with their children, rather than guide the next stage of their children’s relationship with their topics.
After 10 minutes, the parents joined the experts in small groups, and the children talked about their drawings and “wondered” together about their topics. The room was buzzing; all of them wanted to share and dream and think out loud. Connections were made and even at this early stage, children were finding passion for their topics.
Directly following the ceremony, the fourth grade “buddy” class joined the children and the buddies helped the kindergartners document some of their wonderings and look through magazines to find pictures of their topics. The sense of pride and ownership was already evident as the kindergarteners talked to their older buddies about their topics.
We’re excited to have started this journey with the kindergarten class. And we are hopeful that LiD can become a cornerstone of our whole school community in the near future. Parents, teachers and students are uniting to excavate the current educational standards – finding creativity, joy and the value of learning together.