Do you have recess?
Yes, we have a daily recess block, but we call it "Park." Long-View learners spend an hour each day at a park near the school eating lunch and playing outdoors. We rarely find that weather prevents us from going to Park and we hardly ever tote balls, jump ropes, or other typical "recess accessories" to our shady spot under the heritage oaks at Pease Park. We find our students love to be "free-range kids" and find their own fun through games they create, forts they build, animals they find hiding in the creek, or just moving their bodies at full speed.
How are grade levels organized?
Long-View offers mixed-age learning groups, typically with 2-3 year age bands. Currently our three bands are affectionately know as "Turquoise Band" , "Grey Band," and "Red Band." Try not to think of this philosophy of mixed-age groups within the old-fashioned practice of "the older kids help support the younger kids" or "the ones who understand a topic teach the ones who are struggling." Neither of these represent the philosophy of Long-View. Mixed-age bands allow us to let go of assumptions related to ages and grade levels and ensure all children are stretching toward the highest expectations.
What is "Campfire"?
Campfire is how we start our day. We gather in a communal circle around a log that symbolically marks our center, and a child begins campfire by ringing the "singing bowl," a handmade metal bowl (ours happens to be from India) and we all take a deep breath as the sound reverberates through the room. Ringing the signing bowl both initiates our Campfire and provides a moment for "mindfulness," as we let go of the stress from our morning routines and ready ourselves for the learning the day will bring. We have a few rituals that periodically occur within Campfire, including our birthday run and "touching the log," which is how we recognize kids for exceptional work and special contributions that reflect our values and cultural norms.
What are "Build Weeks"?
Build Weeks are a part of the rhythm of the yearly schedule at Long-View. Build Weeks periodically bridge academic blocks and open our schedule up to allow us to dive into special activities and challenges. Build Weeks help us grow intellectually, help us make connections between disciplines, give us a chance to reflect and set goals, and give us an opportunity to try new things. Read a blog about one of our 2017 Build Weeks here or here.
How does morning arrival work?
A handful of our families bike ride or walk to school. Others drive as far as an hour. Arrival time is from 8:30 - 9:00 and typically one of our teachers is outside from 8:45 - 9:00 to facilitate car drop-offs. Once inside, the children make choices about how to use their time prior to our 9:00 Campfire, with reading, visiting, and makerspace activities often the top choices on any given day.
What about lunchtime?
We all tote our lunches to Park and eat at communal tables near the creek and under the heritage oak trees that fill Pease Park. Long-View kids tend to bring PlanetBox-type stainless lunch kits, and we appreciate this earth-friendly choice that keeps trash at the park to a minimum and encourages a well-balanced mid-day meal.
Is there a morning snack?
Both our morning and afternoon learning blocks are punctuated by a brief Brain Break outside. This is a time for kids to eat a small healthy snack, visit with friends, run around, or just be outside.
Do Long-View kids have homework?
No, we do not assign homework at Long-View. Outside of expecting our learners to read daily, we do not send home worksheets, assign workbook pages, or give out the typical "homework." There are a handful of reasons for this: namely, there is good deal of research to support the idea that homework is not beneficial to learning. On top of that, we have witnessed during our many years of work in schools that revere the routine of homework how rote this work often is, and how quickly it creates a passive "I-just-want-to-get-it-done-and-I-don't-really-care-if-I-do-it-well" attitude. We care about quality learning, and we emphasize deep and critical thinking. Additionally, our kids do not waste any time when at school, and they spend the academic minutes thinking critically and working hard. We want them to go home after school and play, take classes that they explore their passions, and have family time. Most of all we want them to spend time reading, and reading ambitiously. On top of that, we encourage Long-View kids to choose to extend their own learning based on their experiences at Long-View. Thus, you'll see our kids decide to iterate a coding challenge they completed at school or add to a story they are writing. Both are easy to do, as everything we do on computers is cloud-based, and thus they can access it at home.
Do you have report cards?
Yes. We regularly assess the kids (formally and informally), and provide parents with a lengthy narrative report twice a year, as well as a twice yearly face-to-face conference that provides for meaningful dialogue between parents and teachers. Long-View, however, is letter and number grade-free. This is key to our mission of focusing on the "long view" and making the business of learning, not "schooling," central to our educational experience. We eschew grades in favor of on-going dialogue and teacher reports. We regularly assess the kids (formally and informally), and provide parents with a lengthy narrative report twice a year. These highly personalized qualitative prose assessments culled from the collective analysis of the entire Long-View teaching team capture students’ talents, strengths, challenges, and opportunities. We describe each child across our academic footprint (computer science, math, reading, writing, and science), as well as describe your child's growth in the four areas we deeply emphasize: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.
How are Long-View and the number lab related?
We are interested in two areas: innovation and teacher education. Our work specific to innovation in education is focused on developing Long-View Micro School's model and ensuring our students receive an era-responsive education. We also do quite a bit of work supporting schools and teachers across the country working initiating more rigorous approaches to the teaching of mathematics in their own schools and classrooms. Our teacher education is generated through our venture called the number lab. Teachers from all over attend our Educators' Collaboratory at The AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center at The University of Texas, and we also travel to schools to coach and support their change initiatives. Additionally, teachers from our Partner Schools spend time observing and studying at Long-View. We love the atmosphere of learning created by having these visitors taking notes on "Field Study Days" and intensely analyzing the thinking of our young mathematicians. We also love what this communicates to our children: Teachers find your thinking fascinating and are eager to learn from you!