Open Work is a daily (or twice-weekly for 6th – 8th graders) opportunity for pre-k through 5th grade children to engage in self-initiated work with a range of materials. Open Work is an important part of our academic program enabling students to exercise choice and take ownership over their work. As children make choices and decisions fueled by their most pressing interests it is easier for them to work through the challenges that come up during their explorations. Motivated by their passions or curiosity, children are most eager to try and try again. This experience with things “not going right” the first time helps them in other times throughout their school day as they tackle new ideas with their teachers. Through extended experience with those open-ended materials, the children’s work develops in complex and often surprising ways. They move fluidly between materials and activities, finding opportunities to work independently or with peers. Most important, children experience the satisfaction of making their own choices and following their own ideas. The explorations and creations of Open Work in the early childhood classrooms set the stage for continued self-initiated work throughout the Lower School, as children acquire the ability to manage more complicated projects. Encouraged to share their ideas with classmates, they become increasingly comfortable giving and receiving feedback and reflecting on their own work.
Labs, ten-session mixed-age mini-courses focused on topics and interests like tinkering, insects, sculpture, and newspaper are available two times a year to children ages 5-10. These are teacher-led sessions that serve as models for children as they bring ideas and skills that they’ve learned in Labs back to their classrooms.
WOWs (Wide Open Work)
WOWs can take place anytime and anywhere at Greene Hill School. Children are solely responsible for developing ideas, deciding how to teach and making it happen. Children as young as 6 can participate in WOWs and 7s and up are invited to create their own. Children initiate an idea, plan out their process (how will I teach?, what ages will I invite to join my class?, what do I need to get started?, when can it happen?) and post it for the school community. All WOWs are multi-age and often younger kids will teacher to older ones. In the past few years children have led WOWs with topics like “How to Write Historical Fiction”, “Animal Rights”, “Acting Improv”, “Basketball” and “Rock Band.”
Every year all students at GHS embark on an all-school study with an emphasis on science and social justice. Throughout the fall children are learning with teachers, initiating their own investigations and sharing their work with one another. Recent topics have included: food, water, invention and propulsion.