Classes are held in small groups. Lessons are short, providing frameworks and direction to students; the majority of the work is done by students working individually or in small groups in the learning commons under the guidance of faculty. Students are able to use one another as resources and support throughout the day. Additional class time is devoted to discussion and reflection of the material studied. This makes the best use of today’s technology, encourages engagement and responsibility, and allows for flexibility and collaboration.
Connections to the real world are essential to engage high school students in their studies. “Why is knowing this relevant?” “Why should they put in the effort to understand these concepts?” Preparation for future education and employment is a very esoteric rationale which makes sense to adults but not to all adolescents. Authentic experiences, actually being on location, participating in real work and interacting with passionate experts are much more immediate, powerful motivators for learning at this age. While not all parts of all courses can support authentic experiences, authenticity is a primary consideration in curriculum development in the e2 program. The location of our campus at Lansdowne becomes a hub of learning and the city is integrated into the delivery of the curriculum.
Scheduling of courses is done at a faculty meeting every other week and posted on a shared Google Doc so that students can access their schedule at any time. The lessons for many courses are offered more than once. Students refer to the Google Doc and create a personal schedule based on the courses they are taking and their commitments outside of school. This system of scheduling offers the greatest flexibility for faculty and students. If a field trip is planned for one course, other courses work around that extended class. When courses complement one another, such as math and science or history and literature, faculty can plan joint lessons. Students who have competitive sports schedules, internships or part-time employment can schedule around these commitments.
Courses are also offered in a variety of formats. Some are year long, such as math or French as a Second Language; some are semestered such as science or history. Some are compressed, even further into five or six week periods. The content of a course and the needs of the students can be best met with this type of flexibility.