We love research! Not only do we encourage our students to search out data throughout their coursework, but our teachers enjoy learning new technique and relevant educational information. Much of what creates Crown’s unique learning environment was created based on concepts found through research. Here are a few examples. Click on the underlined portions below to follow links to articles containing more information.
The Research Says: According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, executive functioning skills help us prioritize, manage our time, and focus our thinking. Those are pretty important skills in order to be successful, no matter the career any student will pursue! Unfortunately the part of our brain that houses those skills doesn’t develop naturally until around our mid-twenties, at best. Is it any wonder that after telling kids exactly where to sit and what to work on, ringing a bell to alert them to move to the next spot to do it again, many students struggle to thrive at managing their lives after high school? But there is good news! Although children are not born with these skills, the research points toward their potential to develop these skills.
The Crown Solution: All of our students, from Kindergarten through 12th grade, are expected to participate in independent work time daily. We realize they likely don’t already have the capacity to prioritize and manage their time. However, we have intentionally created space to develop these skills.
In younger elementary classes this may look like “center time” where students move throughout hands-on, interactive activities to reinforce learning.
In high school, students spend a portion of their day in Workblock. We provide two homeroom spaces for students to work independently or with their peers. One is quiet and the other has a bit more buzz, as students learn if they work best in their future collegiate library or dorm room. During Workblock students are not forced to work on a particular assignment, rather they have a list of their assignments and interim and final due dates. Under the supervision of the teacher, they are given the freedom to create the plan that works best for them to accomplish their best work. We are thrilled to report from our alumni that they are incredibly grateful for these skills. Interestingly, colleges have given feedback asking what we are doing to prepare our kids so well for college. Apparently, colleges often find it necessary to each incoming freshmen how to think and work independently.
The Research Says: Dual Enrollment can potentially be a fantastic tool to cut down costs and time spent in college after high school, as well as provide additional learning experiences. Typically, the college class credits can be considered towards high school graduation requirements. Those credits are also applied to collegiate level graduation requirements. Unfortunately, not all Dual Enrollment opportunities work out quite so well. Transfer colleges will not automatically accept credits earned at another college. Also, once students earn a grade, it is permanently on their college transcripts. That can be a heavy price to pay for a high school student who is attempting college level work.
The Crown Solution: We allow a few different Dual Enrollment opportunities for our students. Whether online or face-to-face, and from a few different colleges, we carefully evaluate each student’s potential, current workload, and future hopes and dreams when helping guide them to the correct Dual Enrollment situation. One size does not fit all with learners. It is critically important that this opportunity is utilized in a way that positions the student for success.
The Research Says: Nearly half of today’s students are requiring 6 years to graduate from a four year institution. The causes of this unfortunate and expensive trend result from a broad spectrum of reasons. One issue is that incoming freshmen often have no real life experience to inform their choice of majors.
The Crown Solution: We require all high school students to complete an internship in the field the believe is their chosen career. In addition to other obvious benefits of this endeavor, we find that students complete with a more sound educational commitment to their futures, or (just as importantly) sometimes the internship helps them to realize they did not, in fact, want to pursue that career field after all. We are honored to say that not only are Crown grads accepted into their top choice colleges, but often graduate from college on the traditional schedule.
The Research Says: Although young elementary students are fantastic at using their pointer finger on a glass screen, their actual fine motor skills are declining nationwide. That’s a problem, because that impacts their ability to write, cut with scissors, close and open buttons, tie their shoes, and on and on.
The Crown Solution: We love technology at Crown. Starting in 4th grade, all students are required to bring a laptop daily to complete their schoolwork. However, our Kindergarten-3rd grade students rarely use tablets or computers. Instead, it’s much more likely that you’ll see our younger students writing, using scissors, creating art projects, using play dough or shaving cream, or using manipulatives. There are countless ways that the teachers incorporate opportunities to develop those incredibly important fine motor skills throughout our early elementary classrooms.
The Research Says: One Milwaukee, WI teacher, Rebecca Segal, wrote a poignant article about the importance of small class sizes. In addition to endless educator anecdotal stories, though, research also points to the importance of small class sizes, especially in younger grades. Even with technological advances, there is little that can directly impact the success of a child like a teacher who knows the way he learns best or how she can be challenged more academically.
The Crown Solution: Our Kindergarten & First Grade Classes are no larger than 10 students per teacher. We believe this is key in helping each teacher challenge each student to reach their full potential, while also preparing a strong foundation of academic fundamentals. In Second through Twelfth Grade, our capacity is 15 students in each academic class. This allows students access to teachers who are able to focus on individual students and what they need in order to be successful.