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How We Learn

Students at each level explore a “Thread of Inquiry.”

 

Each school year will be comprised of four 9-week quarters, or terms. Throughout the year, students at each level will explore topics around a central theme, or “Thread of Inquiry.”

All core academic subjects, as well as technology and the arts, will be integrated into this thematic exploration. Foreign languages and AP courses will be offered as online electives.

Each term begins with a weeklong “Skills Intensive,” with a different focus for each term, as listed below. Each term ends with a series of school-wide “Forums,” student-led exhibitions (presentations, displays, performances, etc.) incorporating critiques and discussions.

 

Year One: Prehistory & the Natural World

Integrated Subjects

Earth & Life Sciences
Algebra & Logic
Geography

Suggested Readings

The Telling of the World (Penn)
America Before Columbus (Oyasin)
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (film, Herzog)
The Cradle of Humanity (Bataille)

STEAM Challenge

Design a website that explores an era or concept from this thread

 
 

Summer Term

Survival Skills

CPR & First Aid
Wilderness & Hiking Safety

Fall Term

Study Skills

Learning styles
Note-taking
Active reading

Winter Term

Job Skills

Public Speaking
Mediation & Teamwork

Spring Term

Life Skills

Health & Nutrition
Stress & Time management

 
 

Year Two: World Civilization & Philosophy

 

Integrated Subjects

Physical Science
Geometry
Government & Economics

Suggested Readings

Guns, Germs, & Steel (Diamond)
Odyssey (Homer)
Night (Weisel)
Maus (Spiegelman)
Cry The Beloved Country (Paton)
Siddhartha (Hesse)

STEAM Challenge

Use technology to design & model an educational environment (museum, landscape, amusement park, etc.) that reflects an era or concept from this thread

 
 
 

Summer Term

Survival Skills

Basic gardening
Food preservation
Sewing & mending

Fall Term

Study Skills

Use of technology
MLA Citation
Scholarly Ethics

Winter Term

Job Skills

Networking & Social Media
Design Literacy

Spring Term

Life Skills

Healthy Relationships
Animal Care

Year Three: U.S. History & American Identity

 

Integrated Subjects

Chemistry
Environmental Science
Civics
Algebra II

Suggested Readings

A Different Mirror (Takaki)
Lies My Teacher Told Me (Loewen)
A People’s History of the United States (Zinn)
The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck)

STEAM Challenge

Write, design, and produce a play, film, animation, or videogame  that explores an event, an individual, or a concept from this thread

 

 
 

Summer Term

Survival Skills

Basic foraging
Fishing & tracking
Fire safety

Fall Term

Study Skills

SAT Test prep
College & Career Research

 

Winter Term

Job Skills

Interview basics
Writing resumes & cover letters

Spring Term

Life Skills

Automotive Basics
Sign Language
Travel Essentials

Year Four: Global Culture & Current Events

 

Integrated Subjects

Physics or Computer Science
Statistics
Calculus

Suggested Readings

Persepolis (Satrapi)
In the Shadow of No Towers (Spiegelman)
The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Pollan)
Collapse (Diamond)
Brave New World  (Huxley)

STEAM Challenge

Design & engineer a product that addresses a specific problem in our community; then assess its effectiveness & draw conclusions from the results

 
 

Summer Term

Survival Skills

Basic shelter construction
Forestry essentials

Fall Term

Study Skills

College application
Essay writing

 

Winter Term

Job Skills

Business management
Grant writing

Spring Term

Life Skills

Financial & debt management
Voting/Citizenship

ALWAYS INTEGRATED

Literacy & Numeracy Skills
Visual & Performing Arts
Technology

ALWAYS OFFERED AS ONLINE ELECTIVE OPTIONS

Foreign Languages
AP Courses

 

The “thread of Inquiry” for each level will be continuously examined over the course of the four terms. Students will have two long blocks of inquiry-based learning each day, a Humanities block and a STEM block, each led by a certified teacher with the assistance of an aid or intern. These blocks will integrate language arts, mathematics, sciences, and social studies into coherent modules for thematic student-centered learning. Visual and performing arts will also be integrated, in both the humanities and science blocks, as processes for exploring and expressing deep knowledge. Basic drawing, vocal, movement, and performance skills will be an essential component of the first year curriculum. Later, students will have more choice in developing specific arts-related skills and knowledge through mentors, tutors, and independent study.

Other shorter blocks throughout the day will provide opportunities for tutoring, small group collaborative sessions, wellness, and student participation in school governance. Every Monday, the day begins with a school-wide “Morning Meeting,” to discuss and vote on school issues. Each morning Tuesday – Thursday begins with a “Problem of the Day,” a STEAM challenge that increases in complexity over the course of the week (derived from the University Child Development School model, “Math Vitamins,” and their Build-Draw-Record method). “Flex Days” on Fridays allow time for more freedom to pursue individual interests. Fridays begin with a “School Service” block, time to work together and help out around the school with activities like campus clean-up, garden harvesting & food preparation, hanging student artwork, etc.

The school day will be framed by optional sessions of wellness and open studio time. Wellness options might include walks, yoga, dance, hikes, sledding or skating in the winter, field games, or indoor games like table tennis for inclement weather. Open studio time enables students to continue exploration of a particular thread of inquiry, work on unresolved STEAM challenges, get extra help from teachers, work together in groups, or pursue an independent interest.

Required school attendance time is 8am-3pm, Monday – Thursday, and 8am-11am on Fridays. This flexible 4½-day weekly schedule empowers students and staff to tailor the available time to suit their learning needs. Friday afternoons will be dedicated to flexible programming, such as online coursework, independent study, or student-selected study groups (e.g., AP or foreign language courses). Older students who are able to provide or coordinate transportation may use this time for off-site programming, such as internships or community service. Families may take advantage of this time for travel or other extended learning opportunities like museum visits. Students who leave campus will be required to document their learning process for school credit.

 
 

Weekly Schedule Of Integrated Academic Blocks

 
 

Monday

7:30 - 8am

Optional Wellness

8-9am

Morning Meeting

9-11am

Morning Block:
Humanities with Teacher A

11-12pm

Lunch & Free Time

12-2pm

Afternoon Block:

STEM w/ Teacher B

2-3pm

Arts Workshop

3-4pm

Open Studio and Wellness

Tuesday

7:30 - 8am

Optional Wellness

8-9am

Problem of the Day

9-11am

Morning Block: 
STEM w/Teacher B

11-12pm

Lunch & Free Time

12-2pm

Afternoon Block:

STEM w/ Teacher B

2-3pm

Arts Workshop

3-4pm

Open Studio and Wellness

Wednesday

7:30 - 8am

Optional Wellness

8-9am

Problem of the Day

9-11am

Morning Block:
Humanities with Teacher A

11-12pm

Lunch & Free Time

12-2pm

Afternoon Block:

STEM w/ Teacher B

2-3pm

Arts Workshop

3-4pm

Open Studio and Wellness

Thursday

7:30 - 8am

Optional Wellness

8-9am

Problem of the Day

9-11am

Morning Block:
TEM w/Teacher B

11-12pm

Lunch & Free Time

12-2pm

Afternoon Block:

STEM w/ Teacher B

2-3pm

Arts Workshop

3-4pm

Open Studio and Wellness

Friday

7:30 - 8am

Optional Wellness

8-9am

School Service

9-11am

Mentorships
Seminars
Portfolio Development

11-4pm

Independent Study
Internships
Site Visits
Online Courses
Community Service
etc.

 
 

Required school attendance time is 8am-3pm, Monday – Thursday, and 8am-11am on Fridays. This flexible 4½-day weekly schedule empowers students and staff to tailor the available time to suit their learning needs.

Friday afternoons will be dedicated to flexible programming, such as online coursework, independent study, or student-selected study groups (e.g., AP or foreign language courses).

 

Older students who are able to provide or coordinate transportation may use this time for off-site programming, such as internships or community service. Families may take advantage of this time for travel or other extended learning opportunities like museum visits. Students who leave campus will be required to document their learning process for school credit.

 

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