What is Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound?
Expeditionary Learning is a school model that emphasizes high achievement through active learning, character growth, and teamwork. Expeditionary Learning emphasizes five core practices and ten design principles that support teaching and learning in its schools.
The Expeditionary Learning Core Practices:
- Learning Expeditions: These challenging, real-world projects and in-depth studies act as the primary curriculum units in Expeditionary Learning schools. Learning Expeditions support literacy and address central academic standards of content, while promoting character development and fostering a service ethic.
- Active Pedagogy: In Expeditionary Learning schools, teachers plan engaging experiences to help students become active and collaborative learners: to make connections, to find patterns, to see events from different perspectives, to experiment, to go beyond the information given, and to develop empathy and compassion for events, people, and subjects.
- School Culture and Character: Expeditionary Learning builds shared beliefs, traditions, and rituals in order to create a school culture which is characterized by a climate of physical and emotional safety, a sense of adventure, an ethic of service and responsibility, and a commitment to high quality work.
- Leadership and School Improvement: Adults in EL schools create a professional community that focuses on students and their learning. Strong relationships with staff, parent involvement and community partnerships are fostered.
- School Structures: Expeditionary Learning schools use longer and more flexible schedule blocks, common planning time for teachers, mixed student groupings, crew (advisory program), and multi year relationships to ensure student success. Intensives (5-10 days special sessions for enrichment or add’l support held 1-2 times per year) and a variety of before/ after school programs provide additional opportunities for students.
- The Design Principles: Expeditionary Learning is built on ten design principles that reflect the values and beliefs of Outward Bound:
• Primacy of Self Discovery
• Empathy and Caring
• The Primacy of Self-Discovery
• Success and Failure
• The Having of Wonderful Ideas
• Diversity and Inclusion
• The Responsibility for Learning
• The Natural World
• Collaboration and Competition
• Service and Compassion
What’s the Outward Bound connection?
Expeditionary Learning applies Outward Bound’s principles and practices to the classroom:
- Learning by doing in a variety of contexts and environments (fieldwork and using community resources)
- Highly focused instruction with maximum of application
- Modeling, doing and thinking together versus passive, episodic experiences
- Challenge, emotion and teamwork to help everyone succeed
In ELOB schools, fostering character growth and responsibility is as important as teaching academic skills. Students are placed in a crew of about 12-15 students. Crews have adventure experiences and participate in community service and fitness activities to develop teamwork and friendship. They also meet on a regular basis to discuss literature they have read, current world concerns, or issues within the crew or school community. Crew is the place to celebrate success, challenge negative behavior, and provide mutual support.
Adventure and Fitness
Adventure, fitness and nutrition for students are integrated into academic work, the physical education curriculum, and the values of the school to help build courage, character, teamwork and community. Students participate in daily physical exercise and monitor their progress in fitness and nutrition. All 9th graders and their teachers participate in a full Outward Bound adventure experience.
Life After High School
The Expeditionary Learning high school’s curriculum provides students with a broad range of choices after they graduate. They will have met college entrance requirements. EL high schools also support students by setting up internships, taking students to visit colleges, making post graduation plans and helping students with the college application and the financial aid process.
Portfolio and Graduation
Students use portfolios to organize their work and reflect on their progress. Every student selects pieces of work to include in each discipline’s portfolio. As they approach graduation, students pull examples of their best work from each discipline portfolio to put in their graduation portfolios. Each student presents this portfolio, as well as documentation of her or his senior expedition, to a panel of adults as a requirement for graduation.
"What will you see in an iZone school?"
Every good teacher seeks to provide tailored support to every student; however, within traditional school models, this can be very difficult. The iZone aims to make this process easier by adopting a variety of strategies to personalize and deepen the learning experience of each child. Examples of innovative practices in iZone schools include:
- Clear goals, clear feedback, and flexibility to learn at their own pace. Courses are designed around developing the real-world knowledge and skills that students need to meet their goals. Teachers grade assignments with clear feedback on how students can improve, rather than with just a letter or number, so students, with the help of their teacher and families, can focus their time and efforts on the areas where they need it most.
- Learning from experts throughout the world. Facilitated by technologies such as Skype, iZone students use video conferencing and other tools to interact with scientists, politicians, engineers and other professionals.
- Using real-time data to support each student. Teachers use computer-based, personalized learning systems to get real-time data on student progress, strengths and areas of need. Based on this data, teachers can provide extra help, or new challenging opportunities where needed.
- Students working in many different ways. Depending on how a student learns best, they may learn one-on-one with a teacher, in small groups, in a teacher-led online environment, in internships, or through other creative ways that enable students to master the knowledge, skills and habits of mind they need to be successful in college and 21st century careers.
- Collaborative peer to peer learning. iZone students communicate with peers in and out of the classroom for new perspectives. They have deepened their understandings of global history by speaking with students in New Orleans about Hurricane Katrina and with students in London, Israel and New York about terrorism.
- Access to a wide range of courses. Students have access to expanded learning opportunities through online courses for Advanced Placement, credit recovery, world languages and other electives not currently offered at the school. They also have access to the best classes and curriculum in New York City as teachers, resources and courses are shared across boroughs.