At the foundation of the learning design in all Acton affiliate schools is the belief that school should not focus only on "learning to know." We believe that "learning to learn, learning to be, and learning to do" are the critical skills necessary for a rich, meaningful life.
At Solvit, we approach learning by putting Voyagers in control of their own education. We empower Voyagers with freedom and autonomy, balanced with accountability and structure. We manage accountability through online tracking tools, badge plans, studio contracts, and full circle feedback. Our structure consists of these 4 elements:
1. CORE ACADEMIC SKILLS
Voyagers master the foundations of reading, writing, and math through cutting edge, adaptive, game-based software and peer mentoring.
We believe that students learn best when they can advance at their own pace. Traditional, teacher led instruction doesn't offer the personalized approach that is now available with today's technology. When paired with peer mentoring, the opportunity to develop true mastery in a subject is unparalleled in comparison to the traditional model. Voyagers will spend 2-3 hours each day working on Core Skills, earning badges as they fully master subject matter. Voyagers and parents can monitor progress towards goals using our proprietary Journey Tracker software. Even more detail about subject level mastery is available through our other platforms, such as noredink, Khan Academy, and more (shown below). Click the images below for a sample of the tools that we use for the instruction and the tracking of progress in Core Skills.
2. QUESTS & APPRENTICESHIPS
Solvit emphasizes hands-on experience to develop creativity and problem solving skills. Most importantly, Quests and apprenticeships offer exposure to many fields and provide opportunities for Voyagers to find their calling.
By putting an emphasis on "learning to do," Voyagers also have a much more engaging, interesting, and fun experience at school. For example, Solvit will never require temporary memorization of facts from a science textbook, Instead, Solvit will send Voyagers on a 6 week Quest to build robots and have them complete tasks using Lego Mindstorms. Along they way, they will teach themselves to code while learning how to work on a team. As Voyagers advance to the Innovation and Launchpad Studios, they will do real world apprenticeships, developing practical skills and invaluable experience that will set them up for success in life beyond school. View a small sample of Quests and apprenticeships by clicking on the images below.
3. SOCRATIC DISCUSSIONS
Voyagers learn how to think critically and communicate clearly about complex and relevant topics through Socratic Discussions. We are approaching Civilization and other subjects with the same methods used at Harvard University.
For example, rather than take a multiple choice test about Nazi Germany, Voyagers read articles and watch videos from a variety of sources and then debate questions like:
1- What was the biggest reason the German people supported the rise of a vicious dictator like Hitler?
2- Do the German people deserve a little or a lot of the blame for Hitler's rise?
3- Do the people that negotiated the Treaty of Versailles deserve more or less blame than the German people?
4- Could a dictator like Hitler rise to power today?
4. LEADERSHIP & CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
Meaningful character and leadership development
happens at Solvit because we put Voyagers in charge of their own learning and self governance.
Instead of school policies and standards dictated and enforced solely by teachers and administrators, Voyagers take the lead in in holding each other accountable. While guides are present to serve as "guardrails," Voyagers learn to deal with conflict, resolve interpersonal issues, and earn the respect needed to be a leader in the studio. Voyagers also develop an appreciation for the importance of organizational culture. Through the metaphor of the Hero's Journey, Solvit exposes voyagers to a perspective on life that many people don't discover until adulthood, if ever. By recognizing the importance of a growth mindset and grit, Voyagers learn to be the protagonist in their own adventure. Below are a few examples of what this looks like in the studios, and how we recognize progress.