Through a week-long intersession, we offer students another way to engage in learning focused on student choice, rigor and depth, relationship-building, exhibition of learning and opportunities to travel.
Students are always the most engaged in projects (and in life) when they have the opportunity to choose their topic. When we watch our students engage in their passions at school, whether reading, sports, music, building, mathematical problem-solving etc., we see how focused they are on their work. It is in these situations when they are most devoted to their work and are the most dedicated to producing "beautiful work". They revise, inquire, offer feedback to others, and practice in real world settings. They work with dedication not because we are asking them to, but because they want to. Though we incorporate student choice into all of our projects, the content is often a little less flexible. Intersession is an opportunity for students to have this kind of choice and to explore their passions. It also allows teachers to rigorously pursue inquiry with students in a topic about which they are passionate, that lies outside the content they usually teach.
Rigor and Depth
During intersession students are surrounded by peers with similar interests and a similar drive to connect to the content being studied, as they often are in college. Consequently, they work harder than usual (as you would expect, perhaps, in a class taken for one's major versus a class taken for a general ed requirement). They learn more about a specific topic than they ever would otherwise. Though we feel that the work that students do year-long is important, we find it equally valuable to provide them with access to challenging content, outside the scope of their normal studies.
Building and nurturing relationships is an important part of being a high school student and developing a sense of self. Many of the students with whom I spoke about Intersession said they made friends they would have never known otherwise. Since there are only about 20 students per teacher per intersession, most of whom have similar interests as the others in the class, they get to know each other (and their teacher) quickly.
Exhibition of Learning
High Tech High exhibition creates a stage for our products to shine and our learning to be honored by the larger community. Students speak to large audiences, dance, cook, share films, exhibit photography and answer questions (and ask them of each other). In the end, they are proud to be experts on a specific topic.
Occasionally teachers offer intersession courses that involve travel. Traveling provides an authentic way for students to learn a wide range of content about another culture. They move outside of their comfort zones to have a greater understanding of humanity while learning more about themselves. These trips are not available solely for families who can afford to pay for them. The teachers and students work to raise money for all students to be able to attend these trips.
Please feel free to contact the course leaders if you have any questions about specific intersession courses. See the tab marked, "Intersession Videos" above for a video and detailed explanations and costs of each session. Thank you in advance for your support in making this a great experience for our students!
High Tech High North County