October 10, 2017
Dear Big Picture Community Members,
It is hard to believe we are already in the middle of October. It has been a smooth start to the year at Big Picture and I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know our students and staff. I have been visiting advisories daily and engaging in conversations with students about their learning plans that address their interests and passions. Students are busy setting up informational interviews, job shadow experiences and some have already found internships.
Our high school math Personal Qualities/Quantative Reasoning (PQQR) work began the last week of September and are held Monday Wednesday and Fridays from 11:15am – 12:15pm. All high school advisors are team teaching a PQQR. Ask your student about how they are developing a mathematical mindset and working in groups to problem solve mathematical challenges.
Our middle school students have been out of the building several times this year already enjoying Experiential Learning Opportunities (ELO’s). Having Orca cards for these excursions has certainly made travel easier and more affordable. Middle school service learning has also started and I am fortunate enough to lead a group of 9 wonderful students at Seattle Humane! Ask your student about their ELO’s and find out what their service learning commitment is for this year!
Seminars are another component of the high school level. Seminars are interest generated 10 week courses that can be taught by a student, advisor, parent/family or community member. They are offered Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 1-2pm. Seminars offered this session include the following: 3D Modeling, Ancient Rome, Biology-Earth-Space Science, Closet Crashers/GSA, Community Building, The Art of Coffee, Fitness, Exercise and Sports, Gateway Level-Up (301’s), Student Leadership Forum, Spanish Bi-literacy, Study Hall, The Write Stuff (401’s), Graphic Design and Paint Pod and Other Art Works. If you have a talent, passion or interest you would like to share at our next session, let us know!
Middle school students have a similar opportunity to experience areas of interest in their weekly apprenticeships. Every Friday afternoon, middle school students immerse themselves in drama, biking, GSA, Journalism, Sewing, Japanese, Yearbook, Environmental Science and Art. Similar to the high school seminar program, we encourage parents/family and community members to come share your interests and passions with our students.
As we move toward November the high school students will be preparing for their first exhibition based on a project identified in their learning plan. The project should reflect the interest/internship a student is experiencing during this first learning cycle. Students will be expected to integrate their development around the 5 Big Picture competencies (Personal Qualities, Communication, Social Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Empirical Reasoning) during their exhibition. A big emphasis for the high school this year is to use co-created rubrics to evaluate their projects. The co-created rubrics are developed by the student, advisor and the mentor who will add criteria for excellence expected in the professional setting. I look forward to seeing you during exhibitions and attending them myself.
Middle school students will have exhibitions in November and will use that experience to guide their first Learning Plan. The goal is to align our expectations 7-12 and scaffold the skills students will need to have to be successful in high school. Middle school students will also identify a project based on interests and present their learning during an exhibition in the spring. The 5 competencies also drive the learning at the middle school level and the goal is that students are able to articulate their learning in the areas of the 5 competencies in relation to their project.
Big Picture School is a special place where students are truly known by name, strength and need. We live by the motto, “one student at a time.” We support our students in identifying their interests and passions, finding internships that align with those interests and passions and developing relevant projects to present at exhibitions. We know through research in neuroscience that the brain responds best when there is relevance to our lives. The world today is vastly different than when I was in school preparing for a career. I am happy to lead a school where students are encouraged to remain curious, take ownership of their learning and develop transferable skills that will benefit them wherever the future takes them.
Lisa Escobar, Principal
Big Picture Schools