About Learning Expeditions at The Greene School
Learning expeditions are a central practice of EL Education Schools -- and the Greene School is particularly serious about making expeditions the center of every students’ experiences. At the Greene School, all core content teachers are involved in co-planning semester-long learning expeditions to engage students in relevant topics that are aligned to the standards and our school's mission statement. Learning expeditions include:
- a kickoff experience or immersion
- 2-3 interdisciplinary learning targets
- 3-5 fieldwork experiences
- 2-3 guiding questions
- 3-5 case studies
- 1 final product
Students join in two semester-long expeditions during each year of high school. You can see how these pieces come together by taking a look at the syllabus, final product guide, performance rubric, and a sample of student work from The Code -- an 11th grade expedition focused on racism, civil rights, and genetics.
Fieldwork Leads to Final Products
Fieldwork and authentic student final products are the two aspects of expeditions that we are sharing as a best practice. Each expedition culminates with final products, which are meaningful events that showcase student learning in a way that makes a positive change within the community. And fieldwork -- opportunities to do real research, out in the larger community, fully integrated into the course curriculum -- is an essential step that students must complete in order to meet the goals of the expedition final products.
For example, during the 10th grade Waste expedition, students visit the states primary waste management facility, Rhode Island Resources Recovery, and a local compost farm, in order to develop the background knowledge necessary to facilitate the Waste Solution Summit final product.
Students are required to complete fieldwork journals that are designed to make connection to specific course content. This allows the fieldwork to translate back to classroom learning, and the development of high quality academic products. Additionally, our final products are designed to meet a real-world need and are presented to an authentic audience that includes community stakeholders and experts in the industry.
Key to Success: An Interdisciplinary Balance
With the intention of balancing projects that highlight different subjects, we developed one science and one humanities focused expedition for each grade level. Each learning expedition has a strong representation from English/Language Arts, history and science, often with shared case studies. Local and global issues were selected based upon the standards for each core content area for each grade level. Each learning expedition is in a different step on a developmental continuum which begins with the solidification of effective and appropriate course content, projects, texts, and fieldwork.
It is important to recognize that our curriculum and their associated final products are a constant work in progress. While it is unusual for learning expeditions to be completely overhauled, they are often modified and adjusted based upon a variety of factors related to student achievement. Through the years fieldwork locations and experts have been developed and modified based upon the essential skills identified for each learning expedition. Once that foundation is established we are able to push forward to other more challenge aspects such as the impactful and public final products.
One of the other keys to our success with final products is our school's ability and willingness to be flexible with our schedule to create combined blocks of time we refer to as grade-level workshops. We have designed our schedule to allow for history and ELA classes to easily combine their time to do this.
Expeditions Each Semester, at Every Grade Level
Starting in 9th grade and continuing through their junio year, student take part in a new expedition each semester. In their senior year, students take on a deeper, year-long expedition.
Semester 1: As part of an expedition on Climate, Culture, and Community, students share the results of a Community Investigation of The Green School in the form of a podcast or blog post.
Semester 2: An expedition on Food and Social Justice culminates in presentations of Community Food System Improvement Grant Proposals at the Greene School's 100 Mile Radius Dinner.
Semester 1: Through an expedition on Nature and Society, students produce a Plan for Mashapaug Pond Park and Community Education Center Plan.
Semester 2: During an expedition on Waste, students plan and facilitate a Waste Solutions Summit at city elementary schools.
Semester 1: The expedtiion on Confict and Resolution culminates in a Model United Nations experience.
Semester 2: What students learn through The Code: Racism, Civil Rights, and Genetics is shared during Spoken Word Performances.
A year-long expedition on Sustainable Development & Community Engagement results in a Community Action Project Documentary Short Film, presented at the Sustainable RI Community Symposium.