An Ordinary Day at Future School…
To best illustrate the educational experience at Future School, we’d like to walk you through what a day will be like for two different students. Three of our innovative features– internships, project-based learning, and personalized curricula– create a changing dynamic that will be a part of the school schedule and a part of each student’s day. Because of this, we cannot show you just one schedule, one school day. Rather we want you to picture in your mind two students and we want to tell you how their stories might unfold, how their educational path might follow. These two students are in two different internships in two different academic concentrations with two different advisors. Thus their school days are different, yet they are also the same. Let us show you how:
Picture in your mind a tenth grade student named Sophia. As a child Sophia enjoyed growing vegetables in the garden with her grandmother. So on Tuesdays she’s trying out her green thumb with an internship in landscape design. She interns at the local landscape company that is contracted to create the outdoor space that will surround the new museum. Her mentor has given her a challenge: to identify every insect that might have an adverse or beneficial effect on the landscape they create. On Wednesday, her work in Biology class is aiding her already. She is learning plant cellular structure and plants’ needs in order to enable photosynthesis and reproduction.
Sophia has negotiated with her science instructor a standards-based project in which she will explain the biological environment that she and her mentor are designing for the museum, replete with full explanations of each plant species and animal life (insects, worms, etc.) that will become a part of this small ecosystem. The budgeting of plants and flowers has engaged her use of her Advanced Spreadsheet Applications elective so that she can calculate overall landscape costs. But mostly, her work in Geometry class is finding an application here, as she must explain her landscape design according to the principles of plane geometry. Her Geometry instructor has further challenged her to consider the depth of the soil as part of her geometric space that she must account for, thus she needs help in thinking of the new concepts available in three-dimensional geometry, where mass and volume become additional factors in their landscape calculations.
Her project has further led her to a more personalized curricula in which she is understanding the classification of native Arkansas plants and flowers and their specific needs for sunlight, water, and soil. Sophia is still collaborating with her instructor how she will disseminate her final project. Her instructor is challenging her to create a computer-based model of the landscaped area, so Sophia considers extending her internship into the next semester where she can work with her Computer Applications I instructor to create a digital product.
Joey is a junior at Future School. He is a student who has struggled in self-monitoring and completion of independent work. Because of this, he must remain on campus with the adult support he needs at this time. However, this has not been much of an issue for Joey ever since his teacher noticed that Joey has an “eye” for pictures. His internship is within the Arts and Letters concentration, as he serves as the school’s photographer for the newspaper and yearbook.
His work is primarily on campus, mentored by his English instructor, yet advised by a photographer at the Fort Smith’s local newspaper, The Times Record. His internship requires extensive knowledge of digital photography, camera technology, and digital design, and most of his intern days are in the “digital dark room,” photoshopping pictures, designing layout, and making sure his work is compatible with the local printer. Joey is able to utilize the tools in digital photography as a lens into cultural and historical contexts that he’s learning in his on-line Survey of Fine Arts course. When his services are needed off-campus, he is driven and therefore accompanied by a school employee, which gives him the one-on-one support that he needs. Later, when Joey has gained greater responsibility and therefore greater freedom in his internship, he can be assigned to the local paper that currently advises him.
But at this point, Joey takes pictures and focuses on his academics, which have taken an interesting turn. Joey is currently enrolled in American History. Because he shoots pictures in various sites around Fort Smith, he has become interested in the local history of the sites to which he sets his camera. Specifically, when his history class studied local Fort Smith history, Joey became curious in researching Judge Parker, Fort Smith’s notorious “hanging judge.” Because Common Core Standards require the critical reading of original historical documents and other nonfiction texts, Joey’s research project contains original court documents as well as his original pictures of the historical sites and the new Marshall’s Museum under construction. His instructor has further challenged him to reflect on his research, considering the legacy that we create and how he might want to be remembered. Thus, his internship has created an academic concentration where his particular academic interest in local history is applied to his real world learning, as well as his technological skill development.