Building Ownership and Authentic Learning

We're pleased to share a new Center for Artistry and Scholarship publication, "Building Ownership and Authentic Learning at Conservatory Lab Charter School through Projects and Learning Expeditions." If you'd like to share this, please use

This document was created collaboratively by staff members from the Center for Artistry and Scholarship and members of the instructional leadership team of Conservatory Lab Charter School to record and share the ways the Conservatory Lab Charter School model creates schoolwide access to authentic learning experiences that lead to student engagement and ownership, high quality work, and equitable high achievement.

Conservatory Lab’s unique model is based both on EL Education and El Sistema music instruction, and is supported by strong commitments to social-emotional learning in all aspects of its design. We have adapted EL Education and El Sistema to our school’s goals, conditions, and priorities. This guide focuses on the role of EL Education at Conservatory Lab. For more about the other half of our model, we invite you to read “The Journey of El Sistema at Conservatory Lab Charter School: Lessons Learned and Guiding Questions.” 

EL Education is distinguished by learning expeditions, which are also the heart of teaching and learning at Conservatory Lab. Learning expeditions are in-depth studies of engaging topics, and are the signature structure through which curriculum, instruction, and assessment are organized in EL Education schools. This guide contains five case studies that demonstrate the way that learning expeditions and other student projects structure, inspire, and demonstrate student learning across a range of grade levels and curricular areas. These student projects and learning expeditions are:

  • Portrait of an Artist, in which preschoolers explore art and identity
  • The Ballad of Boston, an original musical created by fourth graders that examined events of the Revolutionary War from various perspectives
  • Half-Blood Narratives, created by sixth grade students to understand themes of mythology and the hero's journey
  • Saving Savin Hill Marine Ecosystems, an interdisciplinary seventh grade learning expedition that analyzed the impact of urbanization on Boston's marine ecosystems
  • Music for Parkland #ENOUGH #NEVERAGAIN, an El Sistema project in which our students expressed empathy and protest in reaction to the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida

We also share a learning expedition created for staff members that offers a framework for our approach to professional development, and an overview of EL Education’s impact on culture and climate at Conservatory Lab. 

We invite you to reach out to us if you'd like to know more about the Conservatory Lab Charter School model and the ways the Center for Artistry and Scholarship can help you can create an arts-infused culture of high academic achievement at your school.

Jill DavidsonComment