How Art Transforms Learning at the UCLA Lab School

Primary Classroom 8-10

Playful Learning

Take a walk through the UCLA Lab School at the culmination of this school year and you will be transported into an underwater ecosystem. Primary students (1st and 2nd graders) have spent the past few months learning and creating an immersive kelp forest art installation. Blue waves float above your head and against the wall entangled with a variety of different types of kelp. It doesn’t take long to realize the species richness in this part of the school as you see a flying fish and seal hanging above and a garibaldi fish peeking from its cave.

Read More

Counting Collections at Home: Supporting Young Mathematicians in the Remote Learning Context

(Primary/6-8 year olds)

CGI Math, Remote Learning

Our school uses Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) to teach mathematics. At the beginning of the school year, one of my goals is to learn about students’ mathematical thinking and experiences. I typically begin the year with counting collections to observe, as well as to provide students with opportunities to learn and discover, one-to-one correspondence, how to skip count, and ways to group numbers to be able to count more efficiently and accurately. Counting collections lays the foundation of the base ten system and helps students make sense of number operations (e.g., addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). Students count a collection of objects. They may count these objects one at a time, or they may decide to group objects. Once students have counted and organized their collections, they record their counting. I conference with students individually or in small groups to understand their thinking and strategies, and if need be, focus on any areas of struggle. Students explain their thinking in partnerships, small groups, and whole-class discussions. The students and I learn from one another in this process.

Read More

Connecting Primary Sources, Children’s Books, and Social Studies

Intermediate: 9–10-year-olds


Nine African-American women posed, standing, full length, with Nannie Burroughs holding banner reading, “Banner State Woman’s National Baptist Convention” (1905-1915). Library of Congress, Lot 12572,

As Harvey Daniels and Sara Ahmed say, When the world hands you a curriculum, you run with it. This year was an important election year that occurred during a time of increased social justice activism. Our school was teaching entirely remotely and we wanted to respond in our digital classroom to this context. It was an opportunity to help students make sense of these times and find ways to express their own questions and ideas about why voting matters.

A team of teachers from the Intermediate Level (multiage classrooms with 9- and 10-year-old students) and our school librarian began to plan across five classrooms about how to launch our social studies investigation in this context. We knew students were aware of both the November presidential election and the social justice protests earlier in 2020. We wanted those with strong feelings and opinions to be able to share them and to engage others so they could come to their own conclusions as well. Our school is committed to using an inquiry approach to teaching and learning, and we know that inherently primary sources offer opportunities for students to observe closely, consider evidence, express their thinking, use their background knowledge, gather new knowledge, wonder, and ask questions.

Read More