What Is An Atelier?

As a Reggio Emilia-Inspired school, School Within School has two ateliers– one for early childhood (Pre-K3 through Kindergarten) and one for the elementary grades (1st-4th).  “Atelier” (at-el-yay) is a French word to refer to a workshop or studio.  It is a place for tinkering with materials and to try new methods for
creation.  In the atelier, poetic and expressive languages take center stage.

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Materials are seen both as a medium for learning about the world, and as a means for representing one’s understanding of the world.  The environment is purposeful– designed to be organized, with materials within children’s access, comfortable, and collaborative.

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An atelierista is a teacher with an arts background, sometimes referred to as a “studio teacher.” The atelierista collaborates with grade level classroom teachers to develop projects and their arts training helps provide a new perspective on classroom learning.  The atelier, like the classroom, helps extend children and adult’s thinking through project work and to make learning visible through documentation.

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At School Within School, the elementary atelier is closely linked to the grade level classrooms.  Classroom teachers and the atelierista meet regularly to discuss the kinds of questions students are asking and to plan experiences for them to further their thinking in the studio.  How often students visit the atelier depends on the progress of their projects and what is required for the learning experience.

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