Place-Based Education (PBE) is an approach that connects learning and communities with the primary goals of increasing student engagement, boosting academic outcomes, impacting communities and promoting understanding of the world in a local-to-global context. This framework is learner-centered, inquiry-based, and interdisciplinary. It employs the design thinking approach and places importance on expanding learning beyond the four-walls by using the community as a classroom.
Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a student-centered approach to teaching in which students learn about a subject through the experience of solving open-ended, interdisciplinary, real-world problems. Students work on a project over an extended period of time and demonstrate their knowledge and skills by creating a public product or presentation for a real audience. As a result, students develop deep content knowledge as well as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills.
Research shows that in order to develop young stewards of our planet, we need to forge an emotional bond between our students and nature starting from an early age. Knowledge is at its best when it passes through our heads and our hearts, and we will not fight for what we do not love. This symbiotic relationship has also been proven to help students by alleviating stress and distraction, developing risk-taking and risk-assessment capabilities, developing empathy and humility, sustaining wonder, and encouraging a sense of responsibility for our environment.
At the Verdi EcoSchool, socio-emotional learning is at the center of our curriculum. We employ the framework of Conscious Discipline - a skill-based program to help educators and parents resolve, enhance brain development, by creating optimal learning environments, support self-regulation in ways that strengthen relationships instead of destroying them, and help children to build respectful relationships with themselves, peers, parents and each other. When children join the EcoSchool Family, educators immediately begin the work of building connection to invite them into an environment where they are intrinsically motivated to care for, respect and support their School Family. Conscious Discipline parent education nights are held monthly to give families an opportunity to understand and apply these helpful practices at home.
Multiage classrooms are composed of students with a mix of abilities and ages. Educators focus on teaching each child according to his or her own strengths and challenges, unlike in same-grade classrooms that often expect all children to be at the same place at the same time with regard to ability. A multi-age classroom is not simply a group of mixed aged students placed in the same classroom. Instead, it is a well organized and thoughtfully differentiated program designed to take advantage of the natural diversity created. Students within this environment become a "family of learners" who support and care for each other. Children have several years to develop within a group, with older children having the opportunity to serve as mentors and to take leadership roles.
As a nonprofit, cooperative school, Verdi EcoSchool continues to evolve and grow into the best version of itself: an organization in which the entire school community shares responsibility for running the school. In cooperative schools, which are also sometimes referred to as parent participation schools, the focus is on creating a school in which all stakeholders work together for the collective good and benefit of the student body. Cooperative schools are based on the premise that strong and positive school-family relationships are the foundation of an effective education. Parent involvement/participation is not just about volunteering/attendance at events but a recognition that the health of the School Family extends into the parent-child relationship.
ECO-COLLECTIVE COMMUNITY PARTNERS
The process of using the local community as a classroom to create an immersive curriculum forms the basis of the Place-Based Education philosophy. Hands-on, real-life experiences create profound learning moments that offer context for traditional academic subjects. Our Eco-Collective is a partnership of institutions, businesses and individuals primarily within the immediate area of the Eau Gallie Arts District who have come together to cultivate a dynamic campus.