Learning takes shape in many different ways at Ivy High.
We know that everyone learns differently. At other schools, these differences are often a sticking point – a barrier to successful participation in education. At Ivy Street, teaching and learning happens across differences. It thrives on our students’ individuality. Our instructors work hard every day to create classroom environments in which everyone gets to participate fully.
So, how does learning take shape at Ivy High? Some of our learning might sound familiar: history, math, social studies, and the like. Other parts of our school offerings are more unique – things like a video gaming elective, a community navigation block, and culinary arts class. What’s true for all of our learning is that it is hands-on, project-based, and individualized to meet the learning styles of each of our students.
Click through a sample schedule of a day at Ivy High:
Each morning begins with an advisory meeting in each classroom. The meeting is led by the Advisory teacher – the “homeroom” teacher in each room, who also teaches two subjects to the class: humanities or STEM.
During Advisory, students settle in and connect as a classroom community before moving into their school day. They may be getting off the bus, or coming to class after their morning at Foundations or the Cottage Farm Program.
Advisory is a time to check in, build community, promote mindfulness, and organize for the day ahead.
The first class this morning is English. English is taught by one of the classroom’s two content teachers. The course curriculum varies with grade level, and is often tied to content in other courses.
At Ivy Street, we believe that students learn best when they are working to create something they’re proud of. Our model of Project-Based Learning allows students to learn by doing. In English class, this might look like creating a movie based on a book the class read, or working with a partner to write a collaborative short story.
We all learn in different ways. Many of our students find that the lectures, worksheets, and pop quizzes they had at other schools don’t quite “click.” Project-Based Learning allows our educators to find a just-right learning fit for each student. And, more importantly, it allows our scholars to create meaningful and beautiful work!
Ivy High students receive instruction in all core content areas. This allows them to develop a foundational education that will serve them in their next step – whatever that may be.
For students pursuing a high school diploma, the instructional team provides support with meeting graduation requirements. We work with students to identify and complete their coursework requirements. Most of our students take the MCAS, the Massachusetts state standardized test.
Of course, state testing is just one of the many ways we measure progress. Everyone is working towards different goals, and in our classrooms, we help our scholars reflect on their own work through varying methods of assessment and evaluation.
Music is a fan favorite of our students! In music class, our Expressive Arts teacher hits every genre, allowing each student to share their own favorite music.
Music Theory focuses on how music works. Students learn a history and exploration of different music styles from Folk to Heavy Metal. They also get to try their hand at songwriting! Each class chooses a theme to pair with a genre, and collaboratively writes a song. Music Theory class has produced lots of hits!
Our elective schedule gives students choice in their own school day. In our elective catalog, there is something for everyone – whether you like sports, music, Dungeons and Dragons, anime, video games, or gardening, there’s something for you!
In Gardening elective, students work in the raised garden beds in our school’s backyard. The group learns about gardening science and techniques, and works together to grow flowers, vegetables, fruits, and herbs. When the season is right, they sell their produce to our kitchen so that our culinary team can use it in their cooking.
Each classroom has 40 minutes of mindfulness daily. The mindfulness block occurs in the middle of the day, before or after lunch time, to allow students a moment to pause, unwind, and reflect.
What happens during mindfulness? Some students like to reflect independently, perhaps with a book or a sensory activity. Other students will participate in a mindfulness-focused activity led by the Advisory teacher. There may be a guided meditation, a journal prompt, or a classroom conversation.
Being mindful allows us to recharge for the second half of the day. When we engage in mindfulness as a classroom community, we support each other in taking the space we need for our mental health.
It’s lunch time! During lunch, we eat with students from our own classroom and our partner classroom. In the cafeteria, students sit with friends and staff. It’s a great time to connect!
While some students bring lunch from home, most of our students and staff eat the meal prepared by our Culinary staff. Why? The food is really good! The Culinary team, which includes student Culinary Assistants, prepares fresh food daily for lunch, featuring a variety of cuisines. Dietary needs and preferences are always incorporated – and suggestions are always more than welcome!
Variables, equations, inequalities, functions… there are a lot of topics covered in Algebra, and many adults would report they don’t quite remember everything they learned in that class. Algebra at Ivy Street looks a little different. In Algebra and all of our courses, we seek to identify real-world applications to the content. What good is Algebra if you can’t use it in your own life?
In our Algebra class, we might explore:
How can we use math concepts to make a schedule of everything we have to do today?
Why might we need math when we cook with a recipe?
What do we need to consider when we build our own personal budgets?
By bringing our own lives into the classroom, we can add meaning to our learning.
Each of our classes is taught by a content teacher. They are also often supported by the other professionals in our school.
During World History, our Physical Education and Health instructor might push in to discuss how Americans thought about their health during the American Revolution. Or, they might discuss how people’s eating habits changed during World War II, and how that impacted their nutrition.
Our students see many faces during the school day. The members of their classroom team are many. By drawing upon the varied expertise of our educators, we deliver dynamic and exciting classroom content.
At Ivy Street, it’s not just what we do – it’s where we do it. Learning extends beyond the four walls of the classroom and into the community. Our students go on community trips with their classrooms at least once a week, and some leave our building every day.
Our Occupational Therapists often support these trips. During Community Planning block, students work with their classroom’s OT to plan all aspects of that week’s trip: where they’ll go, how they’ll get there, and how they’ll pay for it. Together, they plan a trip that everyone agrees upon.
Built into every community trip are social skills, executive functioning skills and confidence-building. With all of those, you can do anything.
What makes Ivy High different?
- Certified special education teachers
- Individual and family therapy
- A sensory room
- Medication management supervised by nursing staff
- Clinical services including occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and physical therapy
- Adaptive physical education and team sports
- Assistive technology consultation
- A team dedicated to transition services and vocational support
- Certified behavior analysts and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) experts
- Certified brain injury specialists
- Family Empowerment and Learning Academy
- Music and arts programming
“In class, I learned a bit about using the MBTA, and my teacher taught me about budgeting and ‘adulting’ as I call it.”
Ivy Street School Student