The Davidson Green School has an integrated curriculum that entwines all subject areas so that lessons are not taught in isolation, but explored across content areas to give students a rich understanding of the topic being taught. Teachers use an exploratory learning model that encourage students to be active learners who are able to create and find information, ideas and concepts through exploration of the world and communities in which they live. Exploratory units may last anywhere from two to six weeks, allowing students to feel complete in their understanding of the topic/concept being taught.
DGS middle school uses a Flipped Learning model. Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the teacher guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter.
Throughout each middle school year, starting in 6th grade, students will participate in the following keystone components of the middle school experience:
The Extended Wilderness Experience: This experience is a multi night adventure into the woods. In preparation for these trips, we provide instruction on backpacking, safety in the wilderness, strategic food and gear packing and “Leave No Trace” camping ethics. Out on the trails, students learn experientially about backcountry meal preparation, map reading, topography, tarp set-up, and knot tying. This trip is usually scheduled early in the school year with the added goal of group cohesiveness and bonding.
The Extended Learning Field Trip (ELFT): This is one of the most impactful experiences of the year. Students actively participate in decisions about where to go and what to do on the ELFT based on what they have been studying for the year. They help make the contacts, arrangements for lodging and meals, and learning goals. During field trips, students significantly expand their social and practical skills. They learn to meet and work with new people, adapt to new settings and step out of their comfort zone, respect others, on-the-road planning skills, and how to contribute positively to group dynamics. This trip is scheduled towards the end of the school year as a natural outcome and connection to the year of learning.
Externship: Each middle school student will participate in one or more externship each year. These can vary from a few days long to a few weeks. The purpose of the externship can vary with the student’s interest or age, time of the year, or curriculum connections. The important piece of the externship is for the student to learn from an authentic experience and from an expert in the field. (What is the difference between an externship and an internship?)
Service Learning: The service learning component provides an opportunity for the middle schoolers to give back to our community and to help those in need. The students work together to complete a community project, which is typically a week long. For example, students may help maintain greenways, conduct roadside cleanup, plant a garden, provide assistance to elders, and work with local nonprofit organizations.
NC Region 6 Science Fair: Each middle school student will research, prepare, and present a project at the NC Region 6 Science Fair held annually at UNC-Charlotte. The effort requires a reflective, ongoing, and cross-curricular dialog between teacher & student and among peer groups. Participation in this project helps students to more fully appreciate and invest in the scientific process, to report on a topic they find engaging, and to explore the findings of their peers.
Portfolio and End of Year Product: Throughout the school year, the middle schoolers will compile a portfolio of their work and learning. This will show not only their best work from the year, but also the growth from throughout the year. In addition, by the end of the school year, each student will produce a finished product of some sort. This might be a published poem, an app, a robot, a play, an invention, or a film which is created for and may be presented to an audience beyond the DGS community.