FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT EXPEDITIONARY LEARNING
1. What is special about Expeditionary Learning??a joint emphasis on character and academics;?the quality, coherence and relevance of its program of professional development;?a sense of moral purpose;?its sustained work and continuing relationship with a growing system of improving schools around the country;?that it breathes life into a standards-based curriculum
2. How does EL work with a school??by providing professional development and technical assistance over a period of years to improve instruction, school culture and student achievement.
3. How is Expeditionary Learning connected to Outward Bound??it was developed by Outward Bound USA, and draws upon the educational and developmental ideas of Outward Bound’s founder, Kurt Hahn, and Outward Bound’s significant history of teaching through adventure and service. Expeditionary Learning has its own nonprofit 501(c)3 status, but operates in close concert with other Outward Bound entities in the US and around the world.
4. How do you ensure the quality of your services??We employ excellent people and give them wonderful work to do. And we monitor and review the quality of our services and their impact in each partner school every year.
5. What is the background of the EL staff we will work with??Most have extensive successful experience teaching and administering in public schools. Many also have had successful experience leading and teaching in the outdoors and other experiential venues.
6. Is Expeditionary Learning researched based??Yes. The principles and practices underlying Expeditionary Learning are supported by a significant research base and Expeditionary Learning’s program has established one of the most positive track records of any school improvement effort begun within the past fifteen years.
7. How do we have time to “do EL” and also teach to the standards??”Doing EL” is the most effective way of teaching to the standards, because it leads teachers to understand the standards and figure out how best to engage students in reaching them.
8. How much time will be needed to commit to implementing Expeditionary Learning??All teachers should expect to spend at least twelve to fifteen days a year in Expeditionary Learning-related professional development. Principals and other school leaders should do more than this. But since there should be no difference between implementing Expeditionary Learning and doing school as well as you can, it really is a full-time job.
9. What can we expect to do in the summer with Expeditionary Learning??There will be summer institutes for the entire faculties and leadership of from one to two weeks in length, and a third or more of the faculty each year are expected to participate in one or more additional week-long summits, institutes, or Outward Bound expeditions.
10. What sort of regional opportunities are there with the design??There are periodic meetings of EL principals and other school leaders within a region, regional reading, writing, math and science institutes and the like.
11. Is Expeditionary Learning just one more thing we need to add on??No. It should provide the basic structures, principles and practices used in your school.
12. How does a school know that it is implementing the design well??There are clear benchmarks against which a school may assess itself, and Expeditionary Learning does a review with every school in its network each year.
13. What does Expeditionary Learning do to help start a new school??In partnership with school districts, regional educational authorities, and organizations that hold or are seeking charters, EL may help to plan the school, secure a charter for a school, find funding for the school, and find leadership and faculty for the school. How much EL does is in each case is usually dependent on the nature and history of the partnership.
14. How does Expeditionary Learning work with high schools??Just as it works with elementary and middle schools, by working intensively with school faculty and leadership to improve instruction, school culture and academic achievement. There is more emphasis on preparation for college, and on the demands of specific academic disciplines.
15. How does instruction change in an EL school??It implies high expectations for all students. It becomes more active, more engaging, and more individualized. It makes more use of teams and group support. It’s more connected to the real world.
16. How do you help teachers integrate state standards into teaching??Very often by having them determine what the most important standards are, and then helping them work backwards from these standards to think through how compellingly they might be experienced and taught.
17. How do EL teachers prepare students for standardized tests??First, they lead their students to learn as deeply and well as they can the things that are most important for them to know. They try to understand the tests have to take and what it is they are testing. If there are testing modes that are likely to be unfamiliar to their students they prepare them to understand and deal with them.
18. What if a school has a reading or math program that is required by the district??It may or may not be possible, depending on the programs, to sufficiently integrate them into Expeditionary Learning’s approach to curriculum and instruction. Answering the question involves looking more closely at the nature and requirements of the required programs.
19. How does Expeditionary Learning address literacy??As the most central set of skills for learning teachers and students must have. The relentless teaching of reading and writing, speaking and listening are integrated throughout the entire curriculum.
20. How is a learning expedition different from a theme??A learning expedition is a form for actively and deeply learning important things, of having an experience of them: in some instances, a theme, or central question can serve as a starting point for a learning expedition.
21. Are service, adventure and fieldwork a part of every learning expedition??Yes. But think of service and adventure primarily as qualities rather than primarily as program components. Not all learning expeditions should necessarily have service components, though for some learning expeditions a service project will provide the most compelling reason to undertake the expedition. But a sense of service, a habit of mind in which students naturally seek and find opportunities for helping others, should be a part of each learning expedition just as it should be part of the school culture. The same is true of adventure. There should be a sense of adventure in every expedition, a sense of venturing into new territory. This adventure is intellectual as well as physical or social. Fieldwork is getting out into the field to do research, and it should be a part of every learning expedition.
22. Does Expeditionary Learning meet all 11 criteria for CSR? ?Yes. Click here for a link to the 11 criteria.
23. Can I visit an Expeditionary Learning school??Yes. There are site seminars scheduled at several schools every year just for this purpose. Alternatively, you should schedule a visit to a school like yours by getting in touch with one of our regional directors.