High Quality Work - Claim 3:
Standards-based fieldwork has been a critical component of REALMS' educational approach since the founding of our school in 2001. In fact, fieldwork factored into some of the core beliefs of our schools founding teachers - we believed that it was possible to engage students in experiential learning and drive strong academic growth at the same time.
Since those early years, we have worked hard to carefully and explicitly align our fieldwork experiences to state and national standards. We have seen that students are motivated by the opportunity to engage in their topics of study through hands on experiences, through interacting with experts in the field, and through the opportunity to see how the topics they are studying in the classroom are played out "in the real world." Two recent EL Education publications (links below) highlight the success REALMS has had in using fieldwork and experts to increase the quality of student work through authenticity. A Standards Movement in the Spirit of Expeditionary Learning is an article, written by our Principal Roger White, about the powerful synergy between the depth of the Common Core State Standards and the authentic, project-based curriculum at REALMS. The second, is a chapter in EL Education's newest book called Learning That Lasts in which the Tumalo Creek Project, described below is featured as a case study in the chapter "Creating Scientists and Historians".
Maybe most importantly, we have seen through the Quality Work Protocol process over the last two years that our students' work is of highest quality when the process leading up to that work includes the opportunity for students to build excitement and deep context through hands on fieldwork. The results of these Quality Work Protocols, including the products and tasks we reviewed, the trends we observed and the goals we set, can be found in the REALMS Credentialing Data Profile.
The evidence (linked on the left) shows that the quality of student work remains consistently high over time when the work is authentic. 7th grade Ryan Ranch and 8th grade Tumalo Creek Expeditions exemplify the power of integrating fieldwork into curriculum and its effect on the products. Fall expeditions include multiple full-day fieldwork experiences that build from 7th through 8th grades in length, concepts, expanse of disciplines and expectations. From Ryan Ranch through Tumalo Creek, carefully crafted, consistent, rigorous, engaging standard-based projects lead students to produce work where they apply their deep understanding of content to real world issues and then complete authentic work that holds meaning and value beyond the school community.
Authenticity: Every year, all students apply their deep understanding of content to real world issues and then complete authentic work that holds meaning and value beyond the school community.