Selected readings on US charter schools
Green Woods Charter School, a Philadelphia public charter school located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, PA, was recently awarded the national designation as a Model EIC School. What is EIC?
In using the Environment as an Integrating Context for learning (EIC), Green Woods has had continued success engaging students, inspiring teachers, improving test scores, and closing the achievement gap. At Green Woods, the environment is used as a comprehensive focus and framework for learning in all areas: general and disciplinary knowledge, thinking and problem-solving skills, and basic life skills, such as cooperation and interpersonal communications. EIC-based learning is about using a school’s surroundings and community as a framework within which students can construct their own learning, guided by innovative teachers and supportive administrators using proven educational practices.
Green Woods’ students continually apply what they learn in their classrooms to the real world and the outdoor environment. Both inside and outside the classroom, students work collaboratively as they gain important 21 Century skills necessary to take an active role in solving issues that affect them, their homes, their schools, their communities, and the environment.
In 1996 The State Environment and Education Roundtable’s (SEER) staff and partnering state departments of education began developing the EIC Model with major support from the Pew Charitable Trusts. The process began with a two-year study of schools in each of SEER’s partner states. This research culminated in the 1998 publication of Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment As an Integrating Context for Learning.
This groundbreaking study represented the first ever analysis of the efficacy of using environment-based learning as a means of improving student achievement. SEER used this research, with its evidence of “best practices,” as the basis for developing the EIC Model.
This model focuses on improving students’ standards-based learning by bringing together six key instructional practices:
The educators at Green Woods began to develop their EIC Model program in 2004. The teachers and administration worked to develop their own program with the active support of Dr. Patricia Vathis, a founding member of SEER, who recently retired from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Green Woods Charter School is an award-winning K-8 public charter school in Philadelphia. The school uses the environment as a focus for learning and is in such high demand that more than 1150 families applied for only 35 seats available for the 2014-15 school year. “Our EIC focus is a truly unique and innovative approach to teaching and learning in Philadelphia and the region,” said Green Woods CEO, Jean Wallace. “Receiving this national designation as a Model EIC School has been a decade in the making. We are extremely proud to display this award knowing all of the hard work that went into achieving it.”