A new definition of rigor: The degree to which a student is in equal parts intellectually challenged, engaged, enriched and empowered.

(“Out of the Shadows”, P. Abrams & O. Jorgenson, Independent School, Summer ‘21)

As our 5th/6th graders learned about the various forests and deserts in Africa, they each created a map of the continent, using a variety of salt dough colors to differentiate various land types.

As a whole class, each day they add items created out of paper to the frieze on their classroom wall. At this point the frieze includes the Nairobi Airport, lodges, tents, a large watering hole, and various animals. While the frieze is a developing piece of art, it also serves as a record of their learning and a tribute to their collaboration.

For their Africa study, our 5th/6th graders have taken on the role of photographer working for National Geographic Magazine in a simulation learning experience. In groups of 3-4 students, they manage a budget to buy clothes, purchase food and pay for all travel expenses as they embark on their trip from Washington to Nairobi.  They are required to exchange their American dollars for shillings and learn the base of a new money system.

Individually students developed a pros and cons list regarding which of three roads to travel on to get the best animal photos for the magazine.  Team members then discussed their lists and learned the art of compromise as they collectively chose one road to travel and wrote a letter collectively, making their case.

Students are expanding their knowledge across many disciplines while developing the skills of critical thinking and creativity as they communicate, collaborate and compromise.

Talk about rigor!

With awe,

Susan Kilbane