What do pets, magic, science experiments, cooking, and coding have in common?
Well, they are all being taught at one Omaha elementary school. Lindsey Theis gives us a look at the enrichment cluster program in District 66.
It's near the end of the day at Rockbrook Elementary school. But it's the part of the day teachers say kids aren't waiting to get home: they're engaged. The cluster enrichment program is in its second year at the school. Other schools in the district started the program four years ago. "School wide enrichment clusters are an opportunity for a community to come together, in different age level groups and in smaller groups to explore a topic of personal interest to them" says Principal Garrett Higginbotham.
The process starts with teachers teasing out topics. Kids pick from that pool. then for 6-8 weeks for about 45 minutes to an hour once a week, a teacher or community expert leads enrichment sessions. "Never, never pet her around the neck and by her head because her neck is close to where? Her mouth." This cluster is learning about animals from the Nebraska Humane Society. "That one is the negative side, that one is the positive side" This one: engineering and architecture. This one: coding computers. "If there is a couple of pieces of bone or just one bone" And this one: CSI and forensics.
"We give them just a little bit of time before we have a public sharing opportunity where parents get to come in and other kids get to come by and see the learning that took place and the product they created to show their learning." District 66 educators say the focus on problem solving and learned applications has lead to a big payoff. enrichment has added excitement to the day. "You'll see engagement increase. We'll see attendance, better. We'll see teachers-having a lot more enjoyment at work as well. It kind of creates this aura in your school and everybody is active and engaged and it bleeds back into the regular classroom." said Assistant Superintendent Mark Weichel.