Expeditionary Learning Model
As part of our EL Education model of teaching and learning, we assess students on three big dimensions of achievement: character, mastery of knowledge and skills, and high quality work. Learning expeditions put students in the driver’s seat of their own education, and give them opportunities to demonstrate the three dimensions of achievement throughout the process and presentation of a professional final product.
At King, our students engage in eight- to twelve-week experiential learning expeditions. Learning expeditions are long-term, in-depth, interdisciplinary studies. Students at King engage in two different learning expeditions per year, one in the fall and one in the spring. In the midst of learning expeditions, our students investigate real problems and collaborate with peers and professionals in our community to develop creative, actionable solutions.
Learning expeditions offer real-world connections that inspire students toward higher levels of academic achievement. They involve students in original research, critical thinking, and problem solving, and they build character along with academic scholarship.Learning expeditions require students to engage in sophisticated research, use the community in authentic ways, and represent their knowledge by creating high quality products which are presented to legitimate audiences. The results include rich learning experiences, valuable critical thinking and problem solving skills, and authentic high-quality work that has a meaningful connection to our community.
Expeditions involve several components, including: a kickoff, which introduces the topic and guiding questions to be explored; fieldwork and service learning, which moves our classroom beyond the school walls and into the field; and, a culminating event, which is the presentation of a product or performance to an authentic audience.
Words to Lead By
What are the characteristics of a leader? How can we be leaders in our community? What are words to lead by? 6th grade students explored these essential questions in a new expedition, Words To Lead By. Throughout our learning journey, students researched leaders from the Civil Rights Movement, engaged in service learning opportunities and interviewed local leaders. Additionally, students learned about the powerful role that music played throughout the Civil Rights Movement. Finally, students wrote poems, which were included on posters articulating their vision of leadership in the King community. The posters were displayed in our school community. All of this high quality work was presented at our first culminating event.
Music for Change
Music for Change explored the question: How can we use lyrics and music to address issues impacting the environment and society? Along the way, 7th grade students experienced a kickoff concert with live performances from local songwriters. Students investigated how music impacts their emotions, productivity, and perceptions; examined the relationship between music and math; learned how music impacts the brain; and analyzed multiple poems and song lyrics as models of how others have used music to create change. Once students gained an understanding of the power of music, they proposed an environmental or social issue they wished to research and a method for creating the accompanying music. Professional musicians and writers led and mentored students through the songwriting process in a series of workshops. The expedition culminated with live public performances of student songs and accompanying work, including the opportunity to talk about and play their songs on a local radio station, WMPG 90.9FM.
Truth or Consequences
What is the truth? How and why do people manipulate the truth? Who can you trust? These are the questions 8th grade students at King Middle School investigated during their Truth or Consequences expedition. Students examined media literacy, advertising, and, on a broader scale, propaganda. As a final product, students selected a current issue of personal concern to research and then create a truth poster and a political cartoon to uncover and communicate what they found. In addition, they discovered how data can be manipulated in order to tell very different stories about one issue.