Teacher Experiences

LandTalk Day at Ridgeline Montessori

Elementary school students create poster exhibits of LandTalk interviews

Emily Burton has a unique format to the homework she assigns in her mixed-age (Grades 1-3) class at Ridgeline Montessori Public Charter School in Eugene, Oregon.

Inside the classroom on a daily basis, students are offered large blocks of uninterrupted time to spend on their lessons (“works”), a process that includes writing their own workplans and (to an extent) designing their own path though the curriculum. Emily extends this model to homework outside the classroom, giving students project-based assignments meant to be completed on longer time cycles (e.g. a month). These projects are often scalable in order to accommodate different ages and abilities, and likewise allow multiple avenues to success using different intelligences (e.g. math skills, writing, presentation, social engagement, etc.).

20 years of change drawings

Although LandTalk was originally designed for older students, Emily thought it might be feasible for her class. The students loved it! After doing a practice interview in the classroom with another school employee, they interviewed their parents, grandparents and neighbors, collected before and after photos, and even drew their own images of what changes over time. Instead of posting their materials online, they prepared posters that summarized their findings and held a “homework gallery” at the end of the month where parents were invited to participate.

Check out the gallery below from this event! It is fair to say that – no matter their age and the format – these students produced some impressively clear and thoughtful presentations of landscape change. They got it!

One of the broad goals of LandTalk is to help all people (but especially younger people) gain a grasp of the time scales on which change occurs. How long is 20 years? Do plants live and die in that time? How long does it take for a tree to get overgrown? How often are buildings built, remodeled, or demolished? Who and what affects these changes?

This was a tremendous lesson for these elementary-aged students. Kudos to Emily and Ridgeline – keep up the great work!