Funds of Knowledge

Alzar School | 03.02.21

As we enter our second week of the Spring 2021 semester, students are settling into life at Alzar School. Together they have learned the daily schedules and systems that will guide their residential life, academic endeavors, and outdoor pursuits throughout the semester. Over the last two weeks, students have been building common knowledge and making strong connections with each other and adults in the community. However, it is important to remember the unique knowledge base and set of experiences each student held prior to Alzar School. 

In order to create an inclusive community, classroom, and culturally-responsive experience for Alzar School students, we need to know and incorporate students’ funds of knowledge. The term “funds of knowledge” (Gonzalez, Moll & Amanti 2011) refers to the cultural and familial knowledge our students bring to the classroom and community as diverse individuals. 

In an exercise to gain insight into one another’s backgrounds in a meaningful way, students had the opportunity to choose one of three prompts: Topography of My Life, Identity Quilt, and Life Tree. While each differed, they elicited similar content (of which the student chose what to share). In the “Life Tree” prompt, students included the following components:

A sampling of words students selected to demonstrate their roots.

Roots: your background. What are some things, people, or experiences that made you who you are?






Trunk: your principles. What values or attitudes do you believe are most important?

Some of the values Spring 2021 students hold.







Branches: your aspirations and desires. What are you reaching for?

A collection of Semester 18 student aspirations.







Leaves: things that give you life. What feeds your soul?

Things that feed the souls of Spring 2021 students.








Fruit: things you offer. What are some skills or passions you can share with others?

Just a few of the skills and passions our current students bring to our community.


From the sampling of their word and phrase choices, we can sense that Spring 2021 students have had a wide variety of experiences that influence their values, ambitions, motivations, and skillsets. As the dynamic individuals that make up Alzar School’s Semester Eighteen cohort learn more about one another and contribute to the semester’s culture, they are sure to form a fantastic community of motivated, compassionate young leaders.