Indi-ED students are aligned in groups of approximately 6-8 students per teacher based on academic, developmental, and social readiness. Age alone is not our deciding factor. Our process to establish our cohorts involves interest surveys, parent input, discussions, observations, assessments, and more to determine a good fit for the students and teachers alike.
Just like in real life, most of us can read, ride a bike, and multiply. However, it is almost certain that none of us learned to do so at the exact same point in our lives nor in the exact same manner. Indi-ED honors and supports that naturally, different progression and supports our students accordingly.
We eliminate the mentality that ‘all 9 year olds must ‘x’ on the exact same day and in the same manner’ and encourage the mixed aged cohorts to continue facilitating our philosophy of diverse partnerships and interactions to encourage genuine progress.
Our cohorts are flexible and will have many experiences that overlap so that an appropriate variety of ages, genders, and skill levels will be able to practice our leadership values and to deepen understanding of content.
Ideally, the cohorts will remain intact over multiple years to deepen established and trusted relationships while building upon our learning and shared experiences.
Focus on Character & Healthy Living
Focusing on the whole child helps develop strengths and weaknesses, abilities and gifts while engaging mind and body.
A Day in the Life
There's No Such Thing as a Typical Day at Indi-ED
Our mornings are spent engaged in rigorous academics. Our core curriculum (reading, writing, math, science, and social studies) use the same gifted standards and concepts that are taught throughout elementary, middle, high, and college courses as a guide. The difference is that we integrate the learning so that the content overlaps vs. being conveyed in a singular method. We also skillfully design lessons that will meet our students’ needs while incorporating their interests and abilities. Below is an example of a year at a glance for one cohort’s curriculum for this year.
In addition to designing our curriculum, we also design our assessments to monitor and track our student’s gains. More than traditional assessments, we prefer to listen to how children perceive and process information and then expand, provoke, and explore new ideas.
After lunch, the middle portion of our days are spent being physically active.
While our students are encouraged to have free play/recess, movement, or relaxation breaks as necessary, we also use some of our time to learn through structured play that tie into our character building themes.
These also take place in the real world. For example, we take yoga classes as we learn about self-awareness. We go to a CrossFit gym while learning how to encourage ourselves and others. Or we head to Vertical Ventures to rock climb as we learn how to push ourselves to higher heights-literally and figuratively.
Learning healthy habits together impacts our students as individuals and as a collective, by deepening our relationships.
Our afternoons are spent working on our passion or inquiry projects. We use the theory of project based learning to allow students to investigate ideas of their interest and then take it a step further by allowing them to experience and connect it to real life by creating something that can be added to their portfolio.
This is the part of the day that is most inspiring to be a part of because students actually begin applying what they are learning to relevant, real-life ideas. On any given day, students may be involved in one or more of the stages of our learning cycle.
A Sampling of Completed Student Inquiry Projects
Group Project Topic: Local History
21st Century Skill Theme: Leadership & Collaboration
This cohort decided to dive deeper into a topic that they wanted to learn more about, our local history. They took the time to research on their own but also went above and beyond to set up their own local history tour, an architectural walking tour, a history tour via horse and carriage, and one student even got the entire cohort an interview with the Mayor.
They then went on to create an interactive experience for their Showcase where they put on interactive skits as important members from our city’s history, created timelines and discussions around the small details that they learned about our city, transformed rooms to replicated the architectural components they learned about, and put on an engaging presentation to demonstrate their understanding.
That is real socializing.
Individual Project Topic: Supporting Pet Pal Rescue
21st Century Skill Theme: Innovation & Creativity
Ria has always loved animals. She saves money every year to donate to her favorite local charity, Pet Pal Rescue.
For her third inquiry project, she wanted to compound on her preexisting passion. Under the theme of innovation, Ria set on a path to come up with an easier way for people to donate. Think the Little Lending Libraries you see around town, but for donations that would go to her favorite charity.
Ria took the time to draw blue prints, create multiple prototypes, and then shared her very personal story in a presentation that took our breath away.
She not only collected supplies and donations to bring when she interviewed the founder of Pet Pal Rescue and pitched her idea, but also arranged for one of their employees and one of their adoptable furry friends to join her at her final presentation.
Ria displays determination and perseverance at all times. This was simply another example of how kids can takes things to the next level if you allow them to.
Individual Project Topic: Music
21st Century Skill Theme: Leadership & Initiative
Ben’s inquiry projects have almost always incorporated music as that’s his passion.
He’s worked to become a natural on stage and when his guitar is with him, he always puts on an impressive show. What’s most impressive is to watch how he’s built off of his own ideas.
His first showcase he pushed himself to learn a challenging song. He set up an interview of his own and met with someone who started his own recording studio and got to play on a piano that John Legend played on.
For his next showcase he chose to take a look at music through the lens of responsibility and leadership.
Then last year challenged himself again and collaborated with an actual musician, Ted from Passafire, to record his first original song.
Some of our kids benefit from being able to explore a variety of ideas. But some of them are fully aware of their life’s path and are simply building up products for their portfolio or anything that may help them in their futures.
Collaborative Project Topic: Videography
21st Century Skill Theme: Collaboration
Alex and Ani are a sibling set that came to Indi-ED strong in their values and understanding of self.
Alex is an accomplished artist and Ani is an accomplished musician. Both young ladies are driven but took advantage of Indi-ED’s inquiry cycle to collaborate further and put into play ideas that they have been considering for a while.
For Ani’s first showcase, she began working on a musical that she had the idea to write for quite some time. Upon the completion of the first unit, she composed and shared an original song from the first act of the musical.
For our second unit, Alex decided to take Ani’s original song and shoot a music video for it. She storyboarded, shot, edited, and owned every aspect from start to finish.
Check out our YouTube page for the completion of the video as they are keeping it private until they share it at our Showcase.
Cross Cohort Project Topic: Gardening
21st Century Skill Theme: Responsibility & Sustainability
After teaching a biology unit the year prior and hearing about how much our students enjoyed it, we decided to take it even further the following year.
One set of students investigated chemistry through aquaponics while partnering with a local aquaponics business. While another set of students investigated biology through traditional gardening at a local community garden.
Each cohort investigated complex content while having a real life, hands on experience to help deepen understanding. Which means they had to problem solve when failures arose but were also able to literally reap the benefits of what they sowed.
At the end of the unit, they prepared an entire family meal from their harvests and were serendipitously invited to be background extras on the set of an actual Hallmark movie where they played school children beginning a community garden.