Philosophy in Action
Integrated, thematic units are at the core of the student learning experience. Given engaging and complex questions, problems or challenges students are allowed to play, experiment, and address authentic issues. In pursuit of knowledge, students make inquiries that lead to innovation. They seek feedback and revise based on the new knowledge or perspective they have gained in the learning process. Students then share their work with others for deeper learning.
Social Justice Focus
Inclusive and multicultural practices are central to our curriculum and community. By actively exploring the multiple perspectives we all hold, navigating the complexities of privilege, and cultivating cultural fluency, students gain a better understanding of the larger world. Educating the whole child means developing the critical skills needed to evaluate issues, which, in turn, encourages moral conviction and a desire to act accordingly in the spirit of ethical service.
Physical Learning Environment
The physical environment is an extraordinary resource for a student’s learning experience. It is, in effect, another teacher for students. In addition to the indoor classrooms, students at The Oaks benefit from outdoor and physical learning experiences. Students can move freely in an open space, explore surroundings with their bodies and their minds, engage in discussions, observe, and reflect upon their learning.
Reflecting upon one’s own learning enriches growth and fosters intellectual development. Giving students opportunities to think about their thinking makes their learning more “visible.” Learning at The Oaks goes beyond memorizing content and is more about exploring ideas, using reasoning abilities, thinking about misconceptions, and gaining deeper degrees of understanding. Using thinking routines and documentation of learning, students are able to reflect on how and why their thinking has changed.
A key component of learning at The Oaks is collaboration. In small groups, students develop interpersonal skills through interaction and “doing,” while developing solutions to real-world problems. Exposure to and understanding of diverse perspectives develop higher-level thinking and communication. Students learn to respect and value the contributions of each team member, as well as skills for resolving conflict when they arise.
Students share their learning and work through culminating events. Through performances, exhibits, and guided classroom tours, students share their powerful and meaningful learning moments throughout the year. These culminating events help us gain a better understanding of what and how our students are learning. They are also fun as families, buddies, and other students gather together to enjoy the excitement in their work.
A significant part of assessing student learning is self-assessment. Student showcases give students the opportunity to demonstrate agency and ownership of their learning by describing their learning path throughout the year with evidence of their work. It may be a portfolio presentation or a student-led conference. Students share their understanding of what they know and speak to how their thinking about a topic has changed and developed over time.