Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Joys of Expeditionary Learning

I teach at an Expeditionary Learning school. While we do try to follow much of the Expeditionary Learning philosophy, we are also part of a larger school district and sometimes make modifications to how we teach to fit district requirements.

This morning during our Morning Meeting one student, Owen, shared his Expeditionary Learning notebook during share time. What makes this special is that this is not a notebook that we created at school. He created this at home because he is so involved in our latest Expedition.

Our first Expedition was a comparison of families. We began by studying our own families and then branched out and studied and compared our families to families in China. Owen was enthralled with China. He spouted facts about China, made books, drawings and banners with Chinese characters - both in school and at home. His mom told me how fascinated he was with the Chinese culture.

Then we began our second Expedition about interdependence between plants and animals. Our first case study is about how worms and soil depend on each other. Owen is once again enthralled with our topic - worms. He has already completed many self-assigned projects on our new topic. The notebook he shared this morning was just one of those projects.

His mom and I talked again and she said that now she thinks that what is inspiring or motivating him is how Expeditionary Learning works. He is drawn right into the topic by our mystery piece, by generating our own questions, by building our background knowledge, by having discussions around our guiding questions, by reading expert texts and more. I think that she is right. Owen is a learner and Expeditionary Learning blends nicely with his personal style of learning - it tends to do that for most students.

Owen with his homemade Expeditionary Learning notebook.
Owen's worm puppets and backdrop from his presentation on how worms move.
Owen's notes on his learning about worms.


  1. Jill, thanks for sharing YOUR passion for learning with Owen, and for embracing his passion for expeditionary learning. I know that when he soars through his education and goes to college, we'll have you to thank for building such a strong foundation in First Grade!!

    1. Thanks, Kristen. I am pretty passionate about learning but Owen really passionate. He is so much fun to work with because of that passion.

  2. Jill,
    Your post exemplifies what learning should look like in our classrooms. I can see that Owen has benefited from opportunities to ask questions and find answers. When I think back to our book talk last summer, Opening Minds, I can't help but smile at the example Owen's story makes. I would love to have the opportunity to see your classroom in action. I'm thankful for blogs that connect us so I can see the little snippets. Yay, Owen!

    1. Thanks, Cathy. I am so glad we can connect through our blogs, too. We have such similar philosophies and "wonders". I appreciate having someone to share this type of thinking with me.