The focus of CSS is Constructivism— so what is that exactly?
Constructivism is the idea that meaningful knowledge is actively constructed rather than passively absorbed.
In a constructivist classroom, students are asked questions and invited to use what they already know to construct new ideas (creative) then test those ideas in context (science) in order to arrive at answers through experience and critical thinking.
At Creative Science School, teachers guide students through this practice of inquiry and discovery to promote curiosity, confidence, and connection— toward learning, toward themselves and each other, toward community— so that students may use these tools throughout their education and into adulthood.
Is CSS the only place Constructivism happens?
Definitely not! Constructivist teaching is seen in many great classrooms across PPS and all over the world. Constructivism names something many people already intuitively understand about learning, usually through their own learning experiences or exposure to/practice of effective teaching techniques.
Because CSS was founded on this philosophy and it remains our focus, our teachers and staff are able to spend time intentionally organizing our learning environments with inquiry and discovery in mind. Our staff is able to share ideas, solve problems, and create a gradual progression of fundamental ideas across grade levels with the support of each other and our caregiver community.
Is your curriculum different from other PPS schools?
We use the same curriculum as other PPS schools, so the content is the same but the delivery method is constructivist.
What’s this I hear about ‘Storyline’ and ‘Project Based Learning’?
The Storyline Method is a constructivist approach to unit planning/delivery that is used especially in our K-5 classrooms. It recognizes that students connect with stories and uses collective storytelling to capture enthusiasm and put big ideas into memorable context. Much more can be found about it here.
Project Based Learning is similar in its constructivist nature and is used mostly in our Mid Level 6-8 classrooms in addition to Storyline. Project Based Learning helps students connect multiple skills and ideas into larger themes. More can be found about that here.
Okay, I think I get it. A Constructivist focus is about constructing knowledge through inquiry and discovery. Is that it?
We also prioritize community building, as a constructivist classroom relies heavily on students' sense of belonging. In order to feel safe enough to be curious, make mistakes, solve problems, repair harm, work together, ask for help, etc., students have to feel trust in themselves, safety with each other, and security in their environment.
At CSS, we spend dedicated time in the classroom getting to know one another genuinely and practicing what it means to be part of a community that accepts and values all members. We believe the more ideas and perspectives there are, the more understanding and connections we all have the opportunity to make.
We could go on for days, but we’ll end this FAQ with language we use with students throughout our school:
We take care of ourselves, each other, and our community.
We are critical thinkers, courageous problem solvers, and compassionate community builders.
Check out this video about our school!
Creative Science School is a focus-option K-8 serving the diverse students and families in Portland Public Schools. Our constructivist approach to learning ensures that all of our students become critical, reflective thinkers, courageous problem-solvers, and engaged, compassionate community builders.
Through the deliberate use of relationship-building experiences, exploration of essential questions, and integration of multiple perspectives, we inspire students to actively participate in their education and create tangible evidence of meaningful learning.
- The Creative Science School is based on constructivist beliefs and theories.
- At Creative Science School, learning and teaching are interconnected.
- At the Creative Science School, the curriculum is created with a focus on “Big Ideas” and the connections within and between those ideas.
- At the Creative Science School, reflection and assessment are interwoven into daily activities and projects.
- At the Creative Science School, there is an emphasis on creativity and autonomy that enhances the students’, educators’ and parents’ sense of personal satisfaction and success.
Our Teachers & Community
Our teachers are dedicated to providing a constructivist approach to learning. This means your child will be immersed in a curriculum that asks questions, encourages investigation, promotes cooperative learning, develops problem-solving language, and celebrates creativity. We strive to create a climate where mutual respect among teachers, students, and parents is the foundation, and learning how to learn and think is both a daily goal and an opportunity. CSS teachers guide and assist children in learning through experience and experiments, and our team of teachers meets together weekly to support each other.
For a list of contact information for current teachers and staff, please go to "Teachers & Staff" > "Staff List"
Our parent and family community plays a vital role at CSS. Parent involvement is key to making CSS an outstanding and vibrant place to think, learn, and play. CSS relies heavily on the energy and volunteer support of our parents, and we encourage all members of our community to get involved in some way to support our school.
For a list of contact information for our community, please go to "Families & Community" > "Resources"