Projects, Modules, Units, Textbooks:
In order to cover curriculum requirements, students use textbooks, audio/visual media, teacher-prepared units, workbooks, computers, modules, magazines and other printed matter on an individually-appropriate basis. Therefore, academic subjects are both integrated in the student’s projects and enrichment activities, following a constructivist and inquiry-based model of learning. Choices are built into coursework. In addition, some leeway is possible to create and adjust assignments, and to produce interdisciplinary projects according to student interest and need. Decision making is a joint affair between teachers and students, and in some cases, parental communication is sought.
Discussions are common practice within each classroom. In addition, teachers also plan the delivery of oral lectures on selected topics, subject by subject, grade by grade, and person by person. These teaching moments may come in the format of mini-lectures, demonstrations, seminars, debates and discussions. Informal, spontaneous talks occur upon request by student or by teachers.
Each day, all students in our school have time and opportunities to choose the work they engage in. On the elementary side, within each classroom, students have certain times of the day when they make choices. They choose which subjects to work on, where in the room they will pursue this work, with what materials, with whom they will collaborate, and for how long. This decision making process is facilitated and guided by the teachers, who are observing the student’s progress and understanding their particular needs and abilities and motivations. The duality of decision making between teacher and learner ensure an effective match between student needs and curricular requirements.
On the secondary side, students construct their own timetable based on their own preferences for when, where, and how long they work on a subject. These times are limited by minimum hours devoted to particular subjects, part-time teacher’s schedules or set courses (such as physical education) but are generally up to them. Each student will consult with their mentor teacher when setting up or when changing their schedule. Flexibility is built in to allow students to alter their timetables when more time is needed in a specific subject, when a field trip occurs, or when studying for a test. The difference with this age category is that, rather than remaining within one classroom, students move from classroom to classroom at their own discretion, or by prior arrangement with individual teachers. All subjects are covered at the student’s individual rate. The guidance we give them is to remind them about the time constraints for finishing coursework within the period each student has set for their completion goal. If students wish to study in a different place from their scheduled class, they may do so, as long as they respect the rights of other students to get their work done, and as long as they communicate their decision to their teacher.
Individualized, Tutorial Instruction:
Instruction is often given on a one-to-one basis. Any student and teacher may initiate spontaneous teaching of particular concepts and skills, according to the unique needs of the student and specific courses. It is important for students to learn to ask for instruction and for assistance with their time management. They need to speak regularly with their teachers, to receive instruction, to plan progress and to keep the lines of communication open. Regular mentoring sessions for secondary students will be conducted between all students and a staff member chosen by each student, in order to ensure that students receive the assistance they need to progress both academically and socially.
Because our approach emphasizes the growth of each individual to achieve their potential and chosen goals, we recognize the need to create and foster opportunities for our students to gather in groups for the purpose of collaborating with their peers on learning activities. Students themselves often form such cooperative groups and partnerships in natural ways. Great endeavours in our society always require the need for individuals to be able to gather non-competitively and work together as a team. Ensuring such collaboration during the school years prepares our students for such challenges. These cooperative learning opportunities occur through writing plays and stories, conducting experiments, preparing projects, holding science/math fairs and art exhibits, solving class issues, forming study-buddies, having multi-aged buddy reading/learning, experiencing field trips, participating in student councils, and planning and hosting special events such as Graduation, Ethnic Weeks, Nutritional Month, Christmas concerts, Spring presentations, etc. In addition, our personal interest projects and internships take students into the broader community where they can participate in and contribute to adult work and service ventures.