Expeditionary Learning

Expeditionary Learning
What is Expeditionary Learning?

Expeditionary Learning (EL Education) is a comprehensive school reform and school development model for elementary, middle, and high schools. Expeditionary Learning has five core practices central to their school model: learning expeditions, active pedagogy, culture and character, leadership and school improvement, and structures. Our students are actively engaged in science and social studies learning expeditions that are standards-based with embedded literacy, fieldwork, experts, service character education, art and meaningful final products.

Why Expeditionary Learning?

Expeditionary Learning schools provide rigorous professional learning for teachers that results in higher achievement gains for all students through:
A rigorous and engaging curriculum based on state and national standards.
Active, inquiry-based learning strategies.
A school culture that demands and teaches compassion and good citizenship.
Engaging topics and rich learning experiences that result in high quality products and presentations of learning.

What makes Expeditionary Learning Unique?

Reading, writing, and math skills are strengthened and deepened through real world learning and field experiences.
Students take a more active role in setting learning and achievement goals.
Teachers place a greater focus on student reflections and review.
Students form a deeper connection to the school community and to the world around them.
Students showcase their work through public presentations and performances.

What are Learning Expeditions?

Learning Expeditions are designed to require students to research approved Great Thinkers and learn from living experts. For all or most of the day, students and teachers are engaged in challenging Learning Expeditions that explore a topic or theme in depth. Their studies call for intellectual inquiry, physical explorations and community service.
Along with the Five Core Practices, we utilize Ten Design Principles to encourage innovative teaching methods. The use of Learning Expeditions will take experiential learning to its highest level.

10 Design Principles

1. The Primacy of Self Discovery Learning happens best with emotion, challenge and the requisite support. People discover their abilities, values, passions, and responsibilities in situations that offer adventure and the unexpected. In our Expeditionary Learning school, students undertake tasks that require perseverance, fitness, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline, and significant achievement. Our teachers' primary task is to help students overcome their fears and discover they can do more than they think they can.
2. The Having of Wonderful Ideas Our teaching fosters curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provide something important to think about, time to experiment, and time to make sense of what is observed.
3. The Responsibility for Learning Learning is both a personal process of discovery and a social activity. Everyone learns both individually and as part of a group. In every aspect, we encourage both children and adults to become increasingly responsible for directing their own personal and collective learning.
4. Empathy and Caring Learning is fostered best in communities where students' and teachers' ideas are respected and where there is mutual trust. Learning groups are small in our school, with a caring adult looking after the progress and acting as an advocate for each child. Older students mentor younger ones, and students feel physically and emotionally safe.
5. Success and Failure All students need to be successful if they are to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges, but it is also important for students to learn from their failures, to persevere when things are hard, and to learn to turn disabilities into opportunities.
6. Collaboration and Competition Individual development and group development are integrated so that the value of friendship, trust, and group action is clear. Students are encouraged to compete not against each other, but with their own personal best and with rigorous standards of excellence.
7. Diversity and Inclusion Both diversity and inclusion increase the richness of ideas, creative power, problem-solving ability, and respect for others. Here we investigate and value our different histories and talents as well as those of other communities and cultures. Learning groups are heterogeneous.
8. The Natural World A direct and respectful relationship with the natural world refreshes the human spirit and teaches the important ideas of recurring cycles and cause and effect. Students learn to become stewards of the earth and of future generations.
9. Solitude and Reflection Students and teachers need time alone to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections, and create their own ideas. We also need time to exchange our reflections with other students and with adults.
10. Service and Compassion We are crew, not passengers. Students and teachers are strengthened by acts of consequential service to others, and one of our school's primary functions is to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service.

5 Core Practices

Learning Expeditions

These challenging, interdisciplinary, real-world projects and in-depth studies act as the principal curriculum units in Expeditionary Learning schools. Learning Expeditions support central academic standards of content, while promoting character development and fostering a service ethic.

Active Pedagogy

In Expeditionary Learning schools, teachers use active pedagogy to help students become active and collaborative learners, to make connections, to find patterns, to see events from different perspectives, to experiment, to go beyond the information given, and to develop empathy and compassion for events, people, and subjects.

School Culture and Character

Expeditionary Learning builds shared beliefs, traditions, and rituals in order to create a school culture which is characterized by a climate of physical and emotional safety, a sense of adventure, an ethic of service and responsibility, and a commitment to high quality work.

Leadership and School Improvement

Leaders in Expeditionary Learning schools create a professional community that focuses on curriculum and instruction as the primary vehicles for improving student achievement and school culture.

School Structures

Expeditionary Learning schools use longer and more flexible schedule blocks, common planning time, heterogeneous groups, and/or looping to ensure student success.

More Information

For a full explanation of Expeditionary Learning, please refer to Expeditionary Learning Schools' website at http://www.elschools.org.