Our Intergenerational Approach
Our Intergenerational Educational Model was born from the desire to create a school that honored and respected children and enabled them to each learn in a time frame and manner that suited their individual capabilities. To do this meant rejecting age as the single most important factor in organizing the educational environment and experiences.
Near West, and our other Intergenerational Schools in Cleveland, were founded on two mainstay principles:
- Learning is a lifelong developmental process
- Knowledge is socially constructed
These principles are translated into a developmental curriculum based on five stages of learning, rather than arbitrary age- and calendar-based grade levels. Students progress through the stages based on demonstrated mastery of learning objectives. Student success is the constant; the time needed to accomplish that success is the variable.
Our classrooms challenge traditional concepts of grade-leveled segregation. Each multi-age class of 17 students is comprised of children across a three to four year age span. This provides a rich learning environment where students learn from each other and are taught to be role models from the start. Mentors and community partners are also part of the learning environment resulting in a multigenerational community.
The Intergenerational Stages of Developmental Learning:
- Emerging ………. K-1
- Beginning ……… 1-2
- Developing ……. 3-4
- Refining ……….. 4-5
- Applying ……….. 6-8
After each academic year, learning starts up again where it left off, without the need to repeat a grade or accelerate to a level for which a student may not be fully prepared. Actionable data is collected through frequent authentic assessments to determine student progress. Authentic assessments and rubrics are closely linked to curricular learning objectives.
Assessments enable teachers to precisely determine each student’s academic status and specific learning needs. Assessment results enable each teacher to formulate lessons for individuals, small groups, or the whole class, based on identifying common learning needs. Assessments and rubrics are shared with students and parents so that every partner in the learning process is clear on expectations and the child’s current progress toward meeting those expectations.
Students move progressively through the stages meeting objectives and benchmarks based on mastery. Clusters allow children social interaction within their peer group while reinforcing a sense of community.