Student-driven multi-session Explorations create learning pathways
Conspiracy and Conspiracism, Early Childhood Education, American Sign Language? What about Debate, Climate Change, or American Needlework? Add 26 more offerings to this list and you have the options students considered in selecting their first-ever, all-multi-session Exploration 2 class, which runs October 6, 13, and 27 and November 3.
The initiative toward multi-session Explorations started with TGS Upper School students during focus groups last school year. “Students let us know that they were looking for longer, more meaningful experiences during Explorations that support and build on their passions,” Dean of Faculty and Academic Programming Mrs. Allycyn Jacobs said.
Complementing the students’ wishes was our $250,000 grant from the E.E. Ford Fund for Friday Explorations, with matching funds. “One of the key pieces of the grant is for students to be able to create pathways of learning in their Explorations throughout their entire time at TGS,” Mrs. Jacobs said. “So this initial set of multi-session Explorations is a babystep toward a full portfolio of Exploration learning that will follow students from grade 5 until they graduate.”
Simran Shroff ‘27 is in the Chamber Music multi-session Exploration and explained that she and several of her friends love playing music. “What you find a lot in school band and orchestra, through no fault of their own, is that you can’t do smaller groups with your friends and play the music you choose to play.” The option to participate in the Chamber Music Exploration gives these students the unusual opportunity to pursue their passion for music in a new, meaningful way.
“Duckponics,” co-taught by Upper School Biology teacher Ms. Tiffanie Bialis, Middle School Science teacher Mr. Colin Seebach, and Garden-to-Table teacher Ms. Lorie Heald, is among the classes that exemplify the breadth of opportunities fostered by the multi-session Explorations.
Duckponics was prompted by a problem that students raised. “The students don’t like it when the duck pond is too green,” Ms. Bialis said. “They told us that the geese don’t like to go in it.” The three teachers joined together, looking for a way to combine their resources to help students create a solution.A multi-session Exploration became the perfect opportunity.
Incorporating biology, chemistry, engineering, ecology, environmental, plant, and animal sciences, and community service, the course takes students through five steps over the four Explorations, with a goal of ceating a system in our farmyard that will use plants to filter and clean the duck pond water while using the duck pond water to grow the plants, which can be used to feed the animals.
In Guitar Workshop, students are using the four Exploration sessions to master a guitar piece of their choosing.
One special feature of all Friday Explorations is that they can be led by students. Multi-session Explorations greatly expand students’ opportunities to teach and to learn from other students. Middle Schoool Mock Trial, open to students in grades 7 and 8, is taught by award-winning members of The Gregory School Mock Trial team, seniors Riley Blute and Anna Folks-Duncan.
“Having multiple sessions is what allows us to teach Middle School Mock Trial,” Anna said. “We couldn’t teach it in one session, or even in one day.”
“The multiple sessions let us go more in depth. Each session can build on the one before it,” Riley said. “We couldn’t do that if we had different students every time.”
Jonathan Burgess is a 7th grade student in the Mock Trial class, and he likes being taught by other students. “Actually, it’s a really good thing because they enjoy it the way we enjoy it,” he said.
Mrs. Jacobs said that the goal is eventually to have Explorations 2 and 3 be multi-session courses.
Following is a list of all multi-session Exploration 2 courses that were offered to students in this first series.
|Adulting 101||Intro to American Sign Language|
|Amazing ways of reenergized||Intro to Linguistics|
|America's Triumph and Treasure: Our National Parks||Intro to Silversmithing|
|American Needlework||Korean Cooking|
|Ballads and Folk Songs||Machines That Make|
|Ceramics: Hand Building||Making Stepping Stones|
|Chamber music||Mexican Murals: Collaborative Art Project|
|Climate Change!||MS Baseball Play|
|Conspiracy and Conspiracism: As American as Apple Pie||MS Mock Trial|
|Early Childhood Education||Programming the Graphing Calculator|
|Roman History Through Film|
|Fandom and You||Senior Internship - Parent Excused|
|Farmyard||Taylor Swift - Eras Tour|
|Fashion Reimagined||The Age of Discovery: Columbus and The Americas|
|Finer points of Debate||The Battle of Maldon: A Closer Look at Old English Poetry|
|Game Making in Unity - Session 4||US Boys Basketball Team Bonding|
|Guitar Workshop||Wright Flight|