What is an Open School?

Foundations of Open School at Marcy

1. Interdisciplinary Learning is used to encourage student engagement and complex thinking.
• This is when a single subject is used to practice skills from more than one academic subject.

Examples of Interdisciplinary Learning at Marcy include:
• An art residency where students use writing, math, drawing and research to complete the art project.
• Writing paragraphs in science to describe observations in an experiment.
• Using geometric shapes in math to create art projects, while also learning about proportion and geometry.
• Learning about art history as a way to learn about a style of making art – for example studying Picasso and then making cubist art works.

2.  Student-Centered Classrooms include opportunities for students to:
• make choices
• be involved in decision making
• work independently
• and in cooperative groups
• assess their own learning

Examples of Student Centered Classrooms at Marcy include:
• In creating History Day projects, students are able to choose a subject that fits within a theme, and from a variety

of kinds of projects to complete.
• Math projects that involve creating games to demonstrate probability, giving students the chance to design their own games either independently or in cooperative groups.
• Classrooms formulate their own rules at the beginning of the school year based on discussions of their hopes for the year.
• Students who are having trouble focusing in class are given an opportunity to Take a Break – time to calm down, and independently choose to rejoin the class when she or he is ready.
• Student Council allows classroom representatives choose and develop school-wide activities.
• Readers Workshop allows students to choose independent reading books, while still encouraging challenging reading.
• Students are encouraged to participate in Parent – Teacher – Student conferences to set goals and reflect on progress.
• Student reflection on their work through methods such as Exit Tickets, Self-Evaluations, and Effort Rubrics are a part of student learning.

3.  Grouping of students may change based on the subject, the skill that is being practiced or the activity.  Flexible groups can increase student challenge and allow students the chance to learn from each other.

Examples of Flexible Grouping at Marcy include:

• Math groups that are formed based on giving a pre-test.  Teachers then form groups to challenge each student at the level of understanding they currently have about a math concept.
• Use of tables rather than individual desks in the classroom, with the expectation that the student groups at each table will change over the course of the year.  These “table groups” are the focus of discussion and class activity.
• Lab groups during science, especially when students are given jobs within the lab group and must work as a team to complete the activity.
• Groups made up of students reading and discussing the same book.
• All-school activities such as Options Classes and Big/Little Buddies give all students the chance to work in cross-age groupings that go beyond their classroom.

4. Families and the Community are valued resources for enriching and expanding student learning.

Examples of including the Community in learning at Marcy include:
• Options Classes that use volunteers from the Community as teachers.
• Our relationships with the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College, which bring large numbers of college students into our classrooms.
• Parent volunteers in a variety of jobs, including Art Adventure, field trips and as classroom

• Classrooms go on multiple field trips every year to experience learning outside of the school and to build community.
• Parents are part of the decision-making process for the school through participation in the Marcy Open Parent Site Council (MOPSC).
• Parents are part of the goal – setting process that is a focus in the fall of each year.

5.  Learning is a process, something that each student does.  Teachers are guides, helpers and instructors.

Examples of the Process of Learning at Marcy include:
• Math problems that require a student to figure out a way to solve a real-world problem.
• When students are asked to explain to their class the “how” or the “why” that lead them to the answer.
• Classroom discussion of Growth Mindset, and how everyone’s brain can grow to learn new skills.
• Encouraging students to think of learning as the process of practicing a new skill until you can do it – like riding a bike.
• Language Arts time that allows students the chance to choose what to read or write about, while teachers offer structure through lessons that focus on skills that are part of all literacy. Such as, write about your choice of subject, using complete sentences and complex vocabulary.


6.  We strive for a school culture that recognizes the Whole Child.  We recognize that students must feel safe, welcomed and a part of the community before learning can really take place.

Examples of ways that Marcy recognizes the Whole Child include:
• Specialist classes and arts residencies that encourage students to express themselves in creative ways.
• Our partnership with the Mental Health Collaborative to help student with their emotional well-being.
• All of our teachers are trained in Responsive Classroom.  Responsive Classroom focuses on encouraging positive behaviors in classrooms by building community and encouraging students to self-reflect.
• Our teachers are called by their first names.  This tradition is intended to show that teachers and students are partners in education – both deserving of respect.
• Marcy is an International Peace Site.  We celebrate Peace Day every year and many teachers incorporate Peace education into their school day in various ways.  Peace education encourages non-violent conflict resolution and tolerance for others.
• Marcy administrators and behavioral specialists encourage students to problem solve with other students and staff to reach agreements that can improve behavior.