Continuing my series on the genesis of our Innovation Lab, today, I want to focus on two goals we have for our gifted students. It has now been one year since I have moved to my current post at Quest Academy. Quest Academy was established in 1982 to provide an appropriate learning environment for gifted children whose educational needs were not being well served by their local public schools. The school currently enrolls over 290 students, preschool through 8th grade, from over 72 different Chicago area communities.
We have communicated two goals that we want to come from the creation of our space/environment and curriculum for our gifted students. They are:
We want our students to be able to extract the fragments of thoughts from inside their heads to be able create a working prototype of their ideas and concepts. Our students are “wicked” smart and full of great ideas waiting be be unleashed. We see this in their visual art projects, on the stage in drama, and on the risers of their music performances. We want to incorporate this idea of allowing them to “make” in their other subject areas, including the Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Mandarin, and French. We are hoping that they will be able to apply the abstract concepts that they are learning to create solutions to the service learning problems that they identify. Many of our students are great formulating ideas and they need to have the space to be able to create them too.
We want to create a caring, nurturing place where success is acknowledged and failure is celebrated. Being gifted, many of our students (and me too) can get stopped by a paralysis of perfection. We are hoping to build an environment where students will have a wide variety of tools for expression, and the freedom to create projects of their choosing so that they can begin utilizing a design thinking model, of brainstorming, prototyping, testing, and reiterating. This cycle is tightly aligned with our core curriculum (academic rigor) and character education (social-emotional development) which are the hallmarks of our school.
In my next posts in this series, we will talk about the environment and the curriculum we are developing.