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Our Education Approach

Whole-Child Education

Learning isn’t linear, and all children don’t learn the same way. And yet, most schools take a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to education. At AltSchool, we empower students to achieve their goals by helping them define their own paths—because every child is unique, and so is their journey to success.
AltSchool Milestones are the building blocks by which we accomplish whole-child learning. Milestones define the specific knowledge and skills that students must achieve by the time they graduate in order to be prepared for the future.

Our Milestones are drawn from fundamental learning standards and leading scientific research about how children learn best. They ensure that all students achieve academic mastery and acquire the social-emotional skills and critical thinking strategies they need to be successful learners, doers, and citizens in an ever-changing world—regardless of the individual paths they forge along the way.

Personalized Learning

Based on a deep, authentic understanding of what makes learning meaningful to each student, AltSchool educators personalize through dynamic grouping and regular assessments. Additionally, AltSchool educators design experiences uniquely tailored to each child, based on their needs, interests, and approach to learning.

When students take ownership of their learning, their levels of interest and confidence skyrocket. Learning becomes a fun and engaging process, whether a student is working to address a knowledge gap or seeking out a new challenge.
Phonemic Awareness
Self-Direction

Meet Poppy

Poppy is a curious, imaginative, and playful kindergartener who loves language, puns, play-based activities, and collaborating with friends. Her favorite subject is reading and she gravitates toward fiction books with imaginative storylines. In reading workshop, Poppy and her classmates choose what they read, picking books they’re interested in that are “just right” for their reading level. Poppy is currently reading ahead of her grade level, so having the autonomy to choose her own books makes reading a much more enjoyable experience. During a class-wide ocean biome project, Poppy and a classmate partnered on a design thinking challenge where they were tasked with creating a device that would help clean and protect ocean animals affected by an oil spill. With her passion for animals, this project was very exciting for Poppy, and her empathy for the animals informed the design that she and her partner devised. 

Whether spelling a word or drawing a picture, Poppy likes to get things right the first time. This term, she’s made significant progress in reframing non-perfection as an opportunity for learning and improvement. She is also increasing her independence and becoming more resourceful by utilizing the resources at her disposal to make progress toward her goals.

Scientific Observation
Resilience

Meet Zen

Zen is an active first-grader with a mind for patterns and numbers. He loves math, reading, and sports. His other interests include art projects like painting and papier mache. Zen’s class recently completed a project-based learning unit on Oceanography, in which each student researched an ocean-dwelling animal, building core skills in science, art, and literacy. Zen was excited to discover that anglerfish emit light to attract prey, and he built this papier mache model of an anglerfish as a representation of what he learned during this unit. 

Project-based learning offers ample opportunity for personalized feedback, helping each student gain self-awareness while working toward individual strengths and addressing weaknesses. In this unit, Zen practiced patience, flexible thinking, planning ahead, and persisting through challenge.

Geography
Persistence

Meet Kaue

Fifth-grader Kaue is passionate about history and sports, so a class-wide study on Ancient Greece that combined mythology and the Olympics (in part, inspired by his love of Greece) was a perfect fit for him. To relate their studies to modern life, the class worked with a professional game designer to create their own games, a process that required patience and compromise as students navigated multiple iterations before arriving at their final artifacts. Kaue’s model featured a mashup of modern pinball and the ancient sport of archery. 

Next, students examined the bidding process that modern-day cities go through to host the Olympics. After researching population, government, transportation, and the geographical layout of their cities, students consulted an expert in design and building and created scale models of their own Olympic stadiums. As the unit bridged History and English Language Arts, Kaue’s expertise in Greece was especially helpful as he suggested a few specific myths that the class then studied in depth.

Writing Arguments
Collaboration

Meet Viktoria

Viktoria is a playful, reflective, high-energy sixth-grader with broad interests ranging from photography to rock climbing. She recently completed a whole-class election project that incorporated language arts, computer science, mathematics, and social studies. In her role as campaign manager, she helped her candidate prep for debates, write speeches, and create a tax plan that addressed city and national issues.

In Viktoria’s mixed-age class, selecting partners to analyze math problems in small groups fosters student agency while helping students learn to collaborate and practice taking on flexible roles within team environments. Students use the classroom space in ways that best suit their individual learning preferences. Viktoria has adopted one of the whiteboards and enjoys seeing her work unfold in front of her while working on math problems.

AltSchool is committed to creating educational environments in which students and teachers thrive. That’s why we’ve developed tools that enable teachers to be their most effective, while providing each student with a dynamic and personalized experience.
Portrait

Portrait is a set of tools that provides educators a rich picture of who each child is. It includes a comprehensive record of each student’s progress across both academic and non-academic standards for learning, such as how often a child has practiced a skill or worked on content. Portrait tracks student trajectory toward competency by incorporating scores from third-party assessments, teacher narratives, samples of each child's work, and internal educator notes.

This deep understanding of a child’s interests, learning approach, and traits helps educators more effectively plan a student's learning experience.

Playlist

Playlist is a set of tools that enables educators to manage what each child does to meet his or her personalized learning goals, and functions as a customized workspace for students to cultivate agency by managing their own work. Educators create, sequence, and remix curriculum units to curate Playlists where students can view assignments, communicate with their teacher, and submit work generated on- and off-line. Education teams provide feedback and assessments that update students’ Portrait in real time. Playlist allows educators to help students accelerate in any areas where they are already advanced, and work on areas that require more attention and development.

Student Agency

AltSchool’s uniquely personalized, whole-child approach to learning fosters the development of student agency—the level of autonomy and control that students experience in influencing their own educational journey—because it is designed to engage students as individuals by creating personally meaningful learning experiences.

When education is a process whereby students learn to think independently, it serves as a foundation for purposeful action. As students develop agency and evolve from being passive recipients to active participants in the learning process, they become more engaged in and dedicated to learning.

With assessments occurring throughout the year, students and educators have an ongoing dialogue about progress and specific targets, and can make refinements iteratively in real-time rather than waiting for annual standardized test results. All students participate in this process, which promotes self-awareness and agency in even our youngest children.

AltSchool Learning Cycle

The AltSchool Learning Cycle is a student-driven representation of how children learn best, designed to foster growth in three core outcomes: Motivated Learning, Constructed Knowledge, and Applied Understanding. Each of these outcomes is accomplished through paired intrinsic and extrinsic actions, encouraging students to take initiative in their own learning and facilitating student agency within real-world investigations.

Motivate

During this phase, educators motivate students with provocations and essential questions. Seeking answers gives students a purpose, instills a desire for learning, and imbues them with an awareness of the skills and interests they will need to develop to accomplish their goals.

Construct

In this phase, students focus on the process of learning, investigating topics through inquiry-driven research, building knowledge of a subject area, developing thinking strategies toward challenges, and practicing key learning habits. As part of this process, students create artifacts such as a piece of writing, artwork, or performance that help them construct knowledge by practicing their skills and habits.

In the Classroom

Each student’s individual path to excellence begins with personalization. When learning is personalized, students become active and engaged learners.

Motivate: Wonder and Engage
Students become motivated when learning is tailored to their interests and abilities.
Construct: Investigate and Create
By exploring their interests and creating personally meaningful artifacts, students build useful knowledge, skills, and habits.
Demonstrate: Share and Reflect
Knowledge sharing and reflection creates accountability and helps students gain confidence and self-awareness.

The Network Benefit

AltSchool unites the efforts of teachers, families and technologists to deliver the best educational experience to our students. When we work together, we learn together.

AltSchool’s mobile web app provides open lines of communication between parents and teachers. Parents can also address logistical issues like drop-off times and allergy regimens through my.altschool.

In-depth digital representations and individualized “playlists” of coursework for each student enable students to chart their own course under teacher guidance, while enabling AltSchool technologists and educators to draw inferences that benefit the network at scale.

As best practices emerge from individual interactions and AltSchool classrooms, our technology links them back to the network so that everyone can benefit—contributing to an environment of continuous learning and improvement.

Be Part of the Future of Education

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