The school’s challenging academic program is rooted in the Harvard-based EL Education model, which empowers kids to reach beyond what they think they are capable of in order to make the world a better place. Students become leaders of their own learning and collaborate on semester-long Learning Expeditions that seek to find solutions to real-world problems locally and globally. As Georgia’s first STEM-Certified K-8 School, Amana students have the unique opportunity to put what they are learning in the classroom to the test. Challenging academics, meaningful community partnerships, and a focus on stewardship are what make Amana’s program special.
EL is an educational framework that differs from traditional systems in three main ways:
- In EL schools, students learn by conducting “Learning Expeditions” rather than by sitting in a classroom being taught one subject at a time.
- EL works on developing the character — as well as the intellect — of students.
- EL changes not only how students learn but also a school’s culture. Expeditionary Learning affects standards, curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and school organization. Teachers, parents, staff, and students work together to create a school culture of collaboration, respect, and high expectations.
Reflecting on the role that character development plays in this approach, Harvard University’s education expert Howard Gardner proclaimed at the 2010 national EL conference, “Expeditionary Learning is a shaft of light in the dark cave of American education”.
3 Dimensions for Assessing Student Excellence
We believe that when a student is done with school and enters adult life, she will be judged for the rest of her life not by her performance on tests of basic skills, but by the quality of her work and the quality of her character.
The EL Education model focuses on student excellence in three core areas:
Mastery of knowledge & skills
- Demonstrate proficiency and deeper understanding: show mastery in a body of knowledge and skills within each discipline
- Apply their learning: transfer knowledge and skills to novel, meaningful tasks
- Think critically: analyze, evaluate, and synthesize complex ideas and consider multiple perspectives
- Communicate clearly: write, speak, and present ideas effectively in a variety of media within and across disciplines
- Work to become effective learners: develop the mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration)
- Work to become ethical people: treat others well and stand up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion)
- Contribute to a better world: put their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service)
High-quality student work
- Create complex work: demonstrate higher-order thinking, multiple perspectives, and transfer of understanding
- Demonstrate craftsmanship: create work that is accurate and beautiful in conception and execution
- Create authentic work: demonstrate original thinking and voice, connect to real-world issues and formats, and when possible, create work that is meaningful to the community beyond the school