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Students Soar into STEM with Directed Studies

 What is Directed Studies?

 Initially we recruited 24 students first trimester which snowballed into 40 second trimester and we anticipate a few more third trimester and even more in 2016-2017. As more and more students experience the course, word of mouth raises our class size. Students were asked to create classes based on their interests and passions.  From there they chose the logical elective credits that either best matched their area of study or were credits they wished to receive in general.  As our school transitions to more project based learning experiences, this course was created to incorporate a 100% PBL experience for students. The courses students have chosen were way beyond our expectations with regards to the authenticity and the ability through LEAP to offer really unique classes that normally would not be taught in a public school.  That said, the budget needed to sustain these unique courses becomes staggering as students create classes that require technology, electronics, hardware and other various materials. 
 
As this is the first year of Directed Studies, we don't have any hard data this year.  We do anticipate, however, that this type of independent project-based learning will lend towards higher scores on the state tests (SBAC--ELA and Math) as well as higher scores on PSAT tests next year. Our school has begun the movement towards integrated subjects (LA/Biology;  LA/Physical Science; US History/American Lit).  We have also agreed to a focus on project-based learning.  Our staff has read the PBL Starter Kit from the Buck Institute and has completed several trainings to better adapt to this new type of teaching and learning.  Directed Studies is 100% PBL and is the first class to fully integrate PBL into the curriculum. " there is a profound disconnect between what students are taught and tested on in most high schools today and how they are expected to learn, versus what the world will demand of them as adults and what motivates them to do their best." --Tony Wagner, The Global Achievement Gap.  Directed Studies takes this statement a step further and not only motivates students to do their best via hands-on authentic activities, but the student chooses their learning and holds the accountability for that learning. 
 

THE FOLLOWING COURSES HAVE BEEN SELECTED BY STUDENTS FOR NEXT YEAR'S DIRECTED STUDIES CLASSES:

Drones--requires purchase of drone kits

Engines--requires purchase of engine kits and various supplies

Flight & Aviation--purchase of flight simulator software and hardware

Astronomy--purchase of telescopes and supplemental material

Architecture--kits and materials for drafting

Chemical Engineering--kits and materials

Anatomy--skeleton

Animation Course-- requires computer software and general art supplies

Story Boarding--general art supplies

Alternative Therapy--requires general art supplies

Music--wardrobe and music technology

History of Dance--costume design materials

Video Production--various wardrobe, props, setting materials, music rights

Screenplay--additional electronics, lumberyard materials for props and back drops, art supplies for painting sets, additional wardrobe materials

Anime/Comics--computer programs, general art supplies

Greek Mythology/Astronomy--books and support materials