A Campbell Parent’s Guide to Expeditionary Learning
What is Expeditionary Learning?
Expeditionary Learning (EL) is a program for continual school improvement that builds on ideas of Kurt Huhn, the founder of Outward Bound. While Outward Bound targets personal growth and renewal, EL focuses on developing good schools and “breathing life” into curriculum and instruction. High achievement is the goal of an EL school. This is achieved through active learning, character growth and teamwork!
How are Outward Bound and EL similar?
The act of discovery and experience are considered the best teachers in both programs. They are both based on the premise that to be successful in academics and in life, a person has to learn and practice teamwork, curiosity, and resilience.
What are core practice benchmarks?
The core benchmarks describe EL in practice. They describe the roles of teachers, students, school leaders, and other partners in a fully established EL model. These practices cover learning expeditions, school culture and character, leadership and school improvement, structures, and active teaching and learning across the disciplines. High achievement can only be achieved with all the people involved in an EL school working together!
What is a "learning expedition"?
A learning expedition is the primary way of organizing curriculum. It is an in-depth investigation designed around a compelling topic. Guiding questions link these in-depth investigations. These investigations require students to engage in a long term study of some aspect of the compelling topic. Expeditions take state standards and incorporate them into these studies to make the curriculum accessible to all students as well as engaging. The students become experts on the topic. By doing so, students are able to construct deep understandings and skills and create products for real audiences. These products are often presented in the form of an exhibition or performance.
What is fieldwork?
Fieldwork is an important part of a learning expedition. It is not like a traditional field trip. It has a clear purpose and is used to build curiosity and background knowledge. It might require visiting the same place over an extended period of time several times. It might require the collection of data through tools such as interviewing, sketching, mapping, using observation skills, etc. Data collected from fieldwork is usually published or presented to real audiences.
The Responsive Classroom plays an integral part in an EL program. It promotes positive discipline and effective classroom management strategies. It creates a common language for teachers and children to share and use everyday. It builds a community of learners who are responsible, caring, can apply self-control, and understand their role as learners.
EL Staff Development
Compiled by Nivvi Tareen, Instructional Lead Teacher, Campbell Elementary School, November 2007