The School Day
While a completely integrated, student led, inquiry-based curriculum may seem completely revolutionary (and it kind of is…unless you live in Scandinavia)
Here at Peace Valley, we accomplish this with only a few changes to the “traditional school day.” Here are some reasons and examples:
- We will only have 12 students, and they don’t exist in a vacuum. Most students will have siblings or parents that have to adhere to a more traditional work schedule based on mainstream society (like other schools, or work schedules).
- We are based on real-world problem-solving, which means we need to operate in the real world and according to its schedules.
- We seek to use the regular school or work day to connect with mentors as they work. So we want to have school when they are working.
- We will start a bit later than some schools…because research says that adolescent brains perform best later in the morning, but mostly with more sleep. So we will start around 9am unless there are early farm chores (real-world chickens need to be fed).
- For the sleep reason posted above: Homework will be voluntary, but often necessary. Many of us take our work home with us. Most of the time it is to finish a task or to prepare for a meeting. Most of the Peace Valley homework will probably be to finish a good book, catch up on work missed due to a passion project, or because a student is so into something they can’t put it down.
So the van will pick up students who want a ride from us at two Yamhill County locations including McMinnville at 8:30 and 8:45 am.
- School will start around 9:15 with settling in activities.
- Morning meeting will always be at 10am.
- A team of students will take responsibility for a 10:30 snack daily which will coincide with a break.
- A team of students will take responsibility for making a 12:30 lunch every day which will coincide with a longer break.
- A team of students will take responsibility for a 2:30pm tea every day which will coincide with another break.
- The rest of the time will be spent on individual learning paths, scheduled seminars, and other onsite chores as well as internships, mentorships, and daily practice classes.
- Students will typically be conveyed back to rendezvous points at around 4pm with the possible exception of those participating in sports, band, speech and debate, or drama practice at local schools.
At all times, Peace Valley reserves the right to seize teachable moments, drop everything, get in the van and go to some random place (Mark O’ Hatfield Marine Biology Center, the Keller Auditorium, Oaks Park) to answer an inquiry.
Here is a more specific schedule for a hypothetical student based on her/his individual needs:
8:30 am: Get picked up at McMinnville gathering point in awesome 12 passenger van driven by fully licensed and insured adult (could be parent volunteer, hired, or MsLG)
8:45-9am: Arrive at Peace Valley, stow gear, check personal agenda on tablet and get to first station (in this case it is a private desk and a reading activity, for another student it may be prep-work for snack)
9:20 am: begin phase 2 of first station which is a graphic organizer based on the reading. Meet with another student doing the same reading and have a think-pair-share about the reading…then type up your summary paragraph and submit it to MsLG electronically.
10:00 am: morning class session where we update each-other as a full group (except students who are doing internships or college classes off site) and talk about the big picture. Engage in question generation and have a brief break-out session with team mates present.
11:00am: snack and transition to outdoor activity (work in the garden? fix an engine? play tag? practice Spanish with a partner under a tree? check on the chickens?…could be anything)
1pm–Play, read, play music, paint
1:30–transition to math because this student does best in this kind of thinking right after lunch. Meet with individual mentor for math as this student hopes to complete college-level calculus before graduation.
2:30–Meet with group to work on project (one member is back from his/her internship and can meet at this time) it involves a lot of material, set-up and break down so requires at least 90 minutes to get anything done. Individual members take breaks to go have tea (the meal or the beverage) downstairs and return refreshed.
4:30pm catch a ride back directly home in van as the team had to stay late to work on the project.