Curriculum Spotlight

Annual Report 2021-2022

At Walden, we develop children's social imaginations, the ability to imagine for a more vibrant, life-giving, and just world for our society. Through Imaginative Inquiry, we craft creative contexts for students to be active participants in the stories of our world, encouraging them to question the status quo and imagine more; to ask "what if?"

Throughout this year, students have been diving into in-depth studies of systems of our neighborhood, city, country, and world. Each project allows students to experience critical issues of a time and/or place, consider multiple points of view, develop empathy, and step in as expert problem-solvers exercising and expanding their imagination and creativity as well as their design thinking, building, and writing skills.



Pre-K: Design Thinking

The Pre-K Roly Polies and Ladybugs gathered recycled goods that could be transformed into creative art projects. As part of their design thinking, they pondered about how repurposing trash was good for their classroom, the community, and the world at large. Even as the youngest learners on Walden's campus, they recognized the importance of reducing waste by repurposing it whenever possible. The classes enjoyed transforming "trash" into treasured art and had conversations about the importance of finding creative ways and building solutions to take care of the world around them.






K/1st Grade Transportation Study

What if Los Angeles had a vibrant public transportation system that was accessible, affordable, safe, fun, and delightful, and comfortable for all abilities and ages? That's exactly the question that was asked of the K/1 Hummingbirds and California Sea Lions classes as they kicked off their transportation study. The classes brought their transportation study to life with block builds in the South Yard, persuasive letter writing to metro employees, drawings of the various passengers that might ride the train, and even constructed train cars that included all of the features to meet the needs of people of all ages and abilities. We are proud of our students for building toward the future with full steam ahead!




1st/2nd Grade City Department Workers

The 1st and 2nd grade Monarch Butterflies investigated how cities solve their problems as they worked for the Health Department, Transportation Department, Animal Services, and Pasadena Public Works. When they met with a city council member and found out that the highway 701 stub, a large area of land, was just sitting there unused – they put all their departments' missions together to create a brilliant public space that helped all the citizens of Pasadena!




2nd/3rd Grade Time Traveling Archeologists

What if the Los Angeles River was re-envisioned for the future based on the good ideas of the past? This question served as the framework for the Green Herons and the Ringtail Raccoons in their LA River/Tongva study throughout the year. 

The classes took field trips to observe the current state of the LA River, theorized and expanded their understanding of the local water system, took a deep dive into the flora and fauna of the region, and reflected on the ways that land was used by the indigenous people of this land. They used this research to collaboratively create a giant map for our South building hallway containing the major landforms around Pasadena, including the San Gabriel Mountains, the Santa Susana Mountains, the Verdugo Mountains, the Santa Monica Mountains, the Los Angeles River, the Arroyo Seco Wash, and the Pacific Ocean. The map also reflects all that they've learned about Tongva life through months of research and depicts Tongva villages with dwellings, granaries, hunting and fishing technologies, baskets, and canoes. It also features the native flora and fauna that were important to the Tongva. 

Then, toward the end of the year, the classes synthesized the good ideas from the past and present to create their own inventions and designs for the future, which they assembled in beautiful models that illustrated their creativity and depth of thinking.



4th/5th Grade Cartographers

What if our 4/5 classes were mapmakers, commissioned to create a visual map that told the true story of Native America before Columbus, busting stereotypes and including new research? That's exactly what we asked of them as they dove into a wide array of resources that expanded their thinking and challenged long-standing beliefs like that of the pristine wilderness myth.

The Bottlenose Dolphins and Burrowing Owls formed a cartography company with a mission of creating pictorial maps for elementary school teachers who are in need of updated, accurate, and developmentally-appropriate resources. They  researched and practiced note-taking strategies that focused on finding big ideas and supporting details, as well as summarizing information.

After reading and taking notes on how Indigenous people used fire for agriculture and wildlife management and created well-traveled roads that spanned the continent, they worked on identifying and mapping the major rivers and roads mentioned in their resources and drew the components of the map that were depicted in their research.



6th Grade Archeologists of Ancient Civilizations

What if there was a tomb that held the stories of the workers, artisans, and ordinary people of ancient civilizations and was studied by archeologists just as they study the tombs of the elite and powerful? 

The 6th Grade Stubby Squids investigated the development of social hierarchy and inequality in human societies by launching an Imaginative Inquiry exploration of ancient Egypt. In their inquiry, the Stubby Squids imagined they were a team of archaeologists excavating a recently uncovered tomb in the Valley of the Kings. They decided what tools they would need, how they would open the entrance to the tomb without damaging it, and how to navigate various rooms inside before reaching the inner chamber and discovering a room filled with breathtaking gilded artifacts. 

The class staged an archaeological dig (in the sands of the South Yard) in which students uncovered artifacts, including evidence of the earliest recorded labor strike in history! Through close observation, sketching, note-taking, hypothesizing, and more research, they drew conclusions about life in this village and investigated objects they found, linking them to the human systems they’ve studied. 

Based on their findings, they created an exhibit that celebrated "the people" rather than 'the power" - the people who were essential to shaping and keeping systems running 5500-2500 years ago. The whole school got to visit their "People's Tomb" and view the artifacts and study reports the Stubby Squids created.