How We Learn

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.

Note: the following content contains tables that are best viewed on a full-sized device.

CURRICULUM MAP OF 4-YEAR PROGRESSION

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Year Summer Term Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
One Thread of Inquiry: 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)

Sample STEAM Challenge: Design a website that explores an era or concept from this thread

Survival Skills:

CPR & First Aid,

Wilderness & Hiking Safety

Study Skills:

Learning styles,

Note-taking,

Active reading

Job Skills:

Public Speaking,

Mediation & Teamwork

Life Skills:

Health & Nutrition,

Stress & Time management

Two Thread of Inquiry: 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)

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

Survival Skills:

Basic gardening,

Food preservation,

Sewing & mending

Study Skills:

Use of technology,

MLA Citation,

Scholarly Ethics

Job Skills:

Networking & Social Media,

Design Literacy

Life Skills:

Healthy Relationships,

Animal Care

Three Thread of Inquiry: 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)

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

Survival Skills:

Basic foraging,

Fishing & tracking,

Fire safety

Study Skills:

SAT Test prep,

College & Career Research

Job Skills:

Interview basics,

Writing resumes & cover letters

Life Skills:

Automotive Basics,

Sign Language,

Travel Essentials

Four Thread of Inquiry: 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)

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

Survival Skills:

Basic shelter construction,

Forestry essentials

Study Skills:

College application & Effective essay writing

Job Skills:

Business management,

Grant writing

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.

WEEKLY SCHEDULE OF INTEGRATED ACADEMIC BLOCKS

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Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
7:30am-8am Optional Wellness Optional Wellness Optional Wellness Optional Wellness Optional Wellness
8am-9am Morning Meeting Problem of the Day Problem of the Day Problem of the Day School Service
9am-10am Morning Block:

Humanities w/Teacher A

Morning Block:

STEM w/Teacher B

Morning Block:

Humanities w/Teacher A

Morning Block:

STEM w/Teacher B

Mentorships,

Seminars,

Portfolio Development

10am-11am
11am-12pm Lunch & Free Time Lunch & Free Time Lunch & Free Time Lunch & Free Time Independent Study,

Internships,

Site Visits,

Online Courses,

Community Service,

etc.

12pm-

1pm

Afternoon Block:

STEM w/Teacher B

Afternoon Block:

Humanities w/Teacher A

Afternoon Block:

STEM w/Teacher B

Afternoon Block:

Humanities w/Teacher A

1pm-

2pm

2pm-

3pm

Arts Workshop Writing Labs Visiting Artists /Professionals Portfolio Reviews
3pm-

4pm

Open Studio or Wellness Open Studio or Wellness Open Studio or Wellness Open Studio or Wellness

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.