| Lori Towle, Fiddlehead School of Arts and Sciences |
Educators at Fiddlehead School of Arts and Sciences in Gray, Maine, have found unique ways to provide robust learning to their in-person and remote students alike through the Covid-19 pandemic. Inspired by Executive Director Jacinda Cotton-Castro’s two decades of leadership, the school partnered with local businesses to set up outdoor classrooms in fields, woods, and apple orchards. This transformed landscapes for learning for the 2020-2021 school year for in-person students in grades 2 through 7. What emerged in these outdoor classrooms? Nature-based learning that integrated all subjects and connected students with the lands around them.
This was no easy task for the educators, who made it a priority to maintain Special Education services off site and coordinated with each other through walkie talkies, all while maintaining social distancing and keeping students comfortable while exposed to the outdoor elements. The outcomes were fascinating, as students and teachers alike used innovative methods to convey their learning. From water studies to wood and trees, interdisciplinary projects provided for robust curricular endeavors.
Meanwhile, back on site, Pre-k through First Grade students dove into emergent explorations in their outdoor areas, using Reggio-inspired explorations with wood, sand, rocks, shells, and water. The nature-based explorations brought birds into the classroom via live cameras and video technology, and piqued the curiosity of these young learners who used nature objects to learn from.
Fiddlehead’s fully remote learners are greeted daily via Zoom, and have engaged in three globally-oriented projects to connect with classes around the world. The Global Monster Project included the entire Pre-K through Grade 7 student body in a collaborative build using detailed body part descriptions written by students in ten other countries. The Landmark Games provided students with geography challenges written by students in other countries, followed by video exchanges to learn about cultures. Middle School students in all cohorts are engaged in podcasts, inspired by NPRs Student Podcast Challenge.
The road had not been easy, but Fiddlehead’s approach is proof that we can transform student experiences during Covid from surviving to thriving. For more on Fiddlehead Charter School, go to the website: www.fiddleheadschool.org. The lottery for next year’s enrollment is Wednesday, March 17th. A final virtual Open House to learn more about the school’s philosophy and approach is this Wednesday, March 10th at 4:45 p.m.