Children are naturally inquisitive and want to learn. We trust in children’s potential and offer them the freedom but also the limits they need to develop ideally. Because school should be fun. element-i schools are state-recognised and run on an all-day basis.
Our students learn
- Individually – because every child has its own learning pace.
- Interest- and action-oriented – because curiosity and hands-on activities are the best teachers.
- In projects – in which they apply what they have learned to everyday life in a meaningful way.
- Across generations and interacting with others – because children learn with and from each other.
- All day – giving us time for and with each other.
- In foreign language teaching units – because cross-cultural understanding requires linguistic understanding.
- MINT-oriented – because mathematics, IT, natural sciences and technology are important if you want to understand the world.
- Independently – because they bear responsibility for their own development.
The learning house concept – fully exploiting individual potential in mixed-age groups
element-i primary and community schools form one unit and are divided into learning houses.
Each learning house (Lernhaus) is situated on one floor and accommodates a mixed-age community of a total of 75 students from three forms, who are divided into reference groups with 15 children each. The associated reference teachers advise and coach their students. Taking into account their potentials, interests, strengths and weaknesses, the children are encouraged to participate in inputs, to use materials from the prepared learning environment and to take part in learning impulses and projects or to initiate and manage them on their own. For example, a linguistically gifted child in form 2 can attend the form 3 German learning group in such a setting.
The learning house concept offers students a variety of opportunities like individually tailored inputs, self-learning materials as well as interest groups and competent contact persons. Since all 75 students and the eight teachers know each other well and make decisions together, the learning houses enable social learning and allow room for a designable framework.
The learning house concept is an important building block of educational continuity in the element-i Bildungshaus. The children learn according to our element-i concept from primary school to A levels. Our teachers work and teach according to the guiding principle of element-i. The learning units build upon each other and are coordinated in weekly learning target meetings. The learning house concept additionally enables the smooth transition between school levels so that the transition between primary and secondary school takes place without a break in the social environment.
Children need a framework that provides orientation
For us, it is important that children are not controlled but learn to control themselves. We believe that school should adapt to the children and not the other way around. Children still need a framework that provides them with reliable orientation though:
The learning conferences
All children and teachers of a learning house take part in the daily learning house conference. The conference is managed by the children. Proposals, current issues and applicable rules of coexistence are discussed there. Both children and teachers can present projects, activities and learning impulses. The children then decide, which activities they would like to participate in.
The weekly schedule discussion
Here, the children together with their permanent reference teacher decide on the goals they would like to set for themselves in the coming week.
The learning world map for primary school students and the learning cosmos for community school students
Learning world maps are orientation for the learning objectives for children and parents. The continents on the map correspond to individual subjects, countries and cities to the respective learning objectives.
The learning cosmos is designed according to the same principle, whereby subjects are divided into planets and learning objectives into rockets with individual ignition stages. The guideline is the curriculum of the state of Baden-Württemberg.
Finally, the continents, countries and cities the child has already successfully visited are documented in the passport. It shows the child’s learning path.
Learning impulses and projects
Teachers offer daily impulses for the children to choose from in the element-i children’s houses already. This concept is continued in the element-i primary and community schools. In the daily two-hour impulse or project times, the students work on topics from general studies, geography, history, fine arts, music, biology, natural phenomena, technology, sport, religion or ethics. The subjects mathematics, German and English form key competences, which are needed for the implementation of the different learning projects and accompany the impulses all in all. For example, projects are carried out in English every week. The teachers take up ideas or current interests of the children and link them to topics of the curriculum. Naturally, students are involved in the design of these impulses and projects. They help to shape them or sometimes carry them out independently.
Learning objectives of project work
In project work, students learn in a practice-oriented way. One example is last year’s (2020) project “From the cocoa bean to chocolate”. It started with the question of one student about how chocolate is actually made from cocoa beans. He then investigated this question together with a few of his classmates. Two teachers took up this learning impulse and supported the children in their research. They took it even further and tried to make cocoa together. In the resulting project, the children also dealt theoretically with the conditions of cocoa cultivation and its harvest. From this, they learned that children often have to work on cocoa plantations instead of going to school. The students felt that this was not right. Children must be allowed to go to school. That is why cocoa farmers need better working conditions and should also receive more pay for their work. This discussion resulted in a twelve-week project, which culminated in an exhibition and the now regularly open fair trade shop run by the students.
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