Teaching without a script: educating a 'you'niquely diverse group of children in a one-room school house: why can't all kids be taught as if they are gifted?
ECHO School was created as a place where Every Child Has Options. Conceived by a group of parents and one teacher who wanted to continue a constructivist model they had previously valued in a public magnet school that was forced to discontinue its program, ECHO was designed to support a multi-age population of students (K-12). These children, who were diverse in academic abilities, interest, educational needs and socioeconomic backgrounds were taught in a modern day "one room schoolhouse" via a gifted model to encourage independent and critical thinking in students without dependence on textbooks or scripted lessons. The non-profit program, which lasted four years, built a curriculum of individual goals and objectives based on the Alabama Course of Study and incorporated a wide range of technology to differentiate instruction for the students. As a result of individualized planning, students were able to become autonomous learners and creative thinkers, while at the same time working collaboratively with the group to teach and learn from one another. There was no beginning or end to their scholarship; because there was no ceiling, they could reach for the stars. This study utilizes narrative inquiry to explain how the stakeholders of ECHO experienced teaching and learning in a context that met the needs of diverse learners.