The purpose of this paper is to describe SPARK, an innovative elementary school that highlights the possibilities for elementary education as COVID-19 continues to unfold.
The authors’ analysis is based on a research synthesis of the main features of the SPARK model, as it was operating when schools in Arizona closed because of the coronavirus pandemic: project-based learning, a teaming model, heterogeneously grouped multi-age classes, blended learning, supporting students' development as self-directed learners, mindfulness and looping.
This paper outlines the empirical grounding for the main features of the model and suggests how they might address elementary students' learning and social emotional needs when schools in Arizona reopen for in-person instruction either as full-service schools or on a staggered or hybrid schedule.
Educators from other districts can use this model as a springboard for reimagining their own educational spaces and practices in this new and still uncertain period when schools and school districts consider how to move forward. While many of these practices are not novel, the authors’ research synthesis highlights how SPARK combines them in a way that is unique and particularly relevant for the present moment.
We would like to thank Carole Basile, Gustavo Fischman, Punya Mishra, and Lok-Sze Wong for their helpful comments and feedback, and the Kyrene School District for its support on this project. We would also like to thank the reviewers whose feedback helped us improve this paper.
Powers, J.M., Brown, M. and Wyatt, L.G. (2020), "SPARK-ing innovation: a model for elementary classrooms as COVID-19 unfolds", Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. 5 No. 3/4, pp. 307-320. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPCC-06-2020-0036
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