Reflection across the program

We ask students to reflect on the activity they are engaging in, whether in math class, PBL, or even a sticky social situation and to answer the question: What do you need to know to solve this problem or situation?

Students then become the generator of their own exploration and collaborators in finding solutions.  The skill is to observe and to respond to what is there, to build confidence in asking questions, of teachers, each other, and their worlds.  When a student looks at their own work, can they identify places they could improve their process or work next time? When a student makes a mistake with another student, can they observe the impact of their choice and reflect on making a better decision next time?  And lastly, does the offering of repair meet the needs of the student who has been hurt? 

By giving students time to reflect safely, we build a dynamic and organic learning community. To learn more about our three pillars of learning, select the tab below to learn more about PBL, Mindset Mathemenatics and Positive Discipline.

What’s the difference between Project Based Learning and a class that has a project? The project IS the learning.

In many classrooms, projects are a reflection of what has been learned. In PBL, projects are the method by which the learning occurs. Every project begins with a student-driven question. As in real life, the solution to a question will differ depending on each student’s unique perspective. An example of a driving question might be: How do we provide clean water to all communities? That’s a big question. But if it’s something your student cares about, they’ll be ready to find and create answers. Other driving questions might be: How can I design and build my own video game? How can I predict and report the weather?  How can I tell an engaging story that transports readers? How can I help create space in the world for different beliefs?

A solution has many parts. To answer our water question, these might include awareness that not everyone has access to clean water, understanding how current water distribution systems work, assessing how much water a person needs every day to survive, and considering whether water is something that should be equitably distributed. 

What’s the difference between asking a student for the area of a rectangle with side-lengths of 4 and 8 and asking a student, how many rectangles can you make with areas of 32 units squared? Mindset.

We choose Mindset Mathematics, a dynamic,curiosity-building approach to math based on Dr. Jo Boaler’s work at Stanford, taking the perspective-shifting ideas of Carol Dwek’s Mindset and applying them to the math classroom. Foremost is our commitment to the idea that everyone has access to math if they want to work for it, and to remind students when they start to believe they just don’t have “a math brain.” In this framework, tasks are designed to support the conceptual work of math (understanding ideas, for example why an operation works the way it does) as well as reinforcing procedural through low stakes practice (spaced repetition) and opportunities to apply both concept and procedure to real-world challenges. 

Dr. Boaler is just one of the researchers we are excited to learn from, and like students, we reflect on our own teaching program to constantly answer the question: what do I need to know about this class? About best practices right now?

Students discussion Sugar Cube and painted sides growth

Student Math/Art Work exploring estimating percentages in art.

Inspired by  Mindset Mathematics Project “Mixed Up Mondrian”

What’s the difference between punishment and discipline? Solutions.

Like PBL, Positive Discipline is about finding solutions to normal problems and giving students the opportunity to practice the tools they learn in class in their own social interactions. The difference between classroom discipline and Positive Discipline is that we are always looking not at what is expedient right now for the classroom, but who are the students, 5, 10 years from now we want these people to be.  

To be clear, this doesn’t mean we have no boundaries. On the contrary, it means that we hold students accountable by giving them tools to solve problems, to keep consequences logical and relevant to the problem created, and to repair when they have hurt someone, including themselves. Repair is distinctly different than punishment. Repair, when done correctly, by again asking a student to observe outcomes, but also to ask the person who has been hurt what they need to feel safe or better, is focused on solving the behavior, not just for this class meeting, but for years to come. 

Finally, parent participation and education in Positive Discipline helps create a consistent set of expectations for a student and common language. At REACH we partner with parents by offering free Positive Discipline parent education and involving parents in building solutions when students need more support. 

My son went to REACH from 3rd through 8th grades, and my daughter is heading into her fifth year there. The emphasis on community and cooperation within the classrooms, especially in regards to the projects, has really benefitted both of my kids. The teachers are nurturing and truly go above and beyond for the students. I could see their dedication when they had to abruptly shift to distance learning.” –Amanda