Burlington High School is piloting a new school calendar, one that opens up rich opportunities for authentic learning. In this 2012-13 year, first-semester ends before December Break, and second-semester is over before Memorial Day weekend. The “Year End Studies” program (inspired by a similar model at Rutland High School) takes place during the last two-and-a-half weeks of the year.
Every student participates–and courses are taught by professionals from across the school. (Even Guidance Counselors are in the mix!) A time of year when adolescent minds are often thinking more about ice cream and blockbusters than finals has instead been repurposed and infused with new energy. Additionally, the YES session gives BHS a chance to experiment with different forms of 21st century learning–including exploration, integration, collaboration, and application.
Opening up curricular space has allowed BHS teachers to speciate a remarkable diversity of course offerings. As teachers designed these courses, they asked themselves:
What passion do I have that I haven’t yet had space to bring to life for learners?
What kind of learning could we explore, practice, and demonstrate in the YES session that might otherwise be limited by the traditional school calendar or course-guide?
Examples of this year’s YES courses include:
- A course introducing and building basic skills related to mindfulness
- A course exploring the local food system, with visits to a number of farms and food-producers
- A course investigating racism, classism, etc. in familiar children’s entertainment
- An applied-chemistry course, in which students–with support from a local essence-distiller– work as perfumists
- A course exploring the lineage and legacy of rock icons–complete with panel discussions featuring local musicians, producers, and promoters
- A course in which mathematics and computer-skills are applied to the encryption and decryption of codes
- A course focused on natural history, wilderness ethics, and backcountry skills that culminates in a multi-day trip on the Long Trail
One exciting thing about the YES program is just how many different ways teachers are approaching teaching and learning. Some teachers have chosen to focus on a specific topic, with a level of depth that traditional survey courses don’t often allow for (e.g., The Beatles, Stephen King, African Dance, etc.). Other teachers have chosen to offer students experiences that a traditional school schedule doesn’t easily allow for (e.g. Snorkelling Lake Champlain, Rock Climbing, Exploring Volunteering and Activism, etc.). Whatever the approach, YES courses are sure to be eye-opening, and world-opening.
There is a public Presentation of Learning Day on June 11th. Consider joining us to celebrate this diversity of approaches to rich, relevant, real-world learning!
Burlington High School — June 11th — Presentations of Learning
8:40 – 9:05 – Session 1
9:15 – 9:40 – Session 2
9:50 – 10:15 – Session 3
10:15 – 10:30 – Mid-morning Break
10:30 – 10:55 – Session 4
11:05 – 11:30 – Session 5
11:40 – 12:05 – Session 6