From the EL Education website: “EL Education was born out of a collaboration between The Harvard Graduate School of Education and Outward Bound USA. What started as a concept has grown into a movement. Our mission, now as then, is to create classrooms where teachers can fulfill their highest aspirations and students achieve more than they think possible, becoming active contributors to building a better world.” WESS is an EL Education school.
West End Secondary is a school in the NYC Outward Bound network, which relies on the EL Education school model to provide a demanding and engaging program with an emphasis on community and character. EL Education schools pursue an expanded definition of achievement, seeking to ensure growth for students in mastery of skills and knowledge, character and high quality work. To this end, four elements drive the work of EL educators: Crew, learning expeditions, student-engaged assessments, and a commitment to continuous improvement.
- Crew is a structure and a culture. As a structure at WESS, Crew consists of twice weekly meetings and periodic additional events that encourage students to build meaningful relationships with peers and their Crew leader, to reflect on and monitor academic progress, and to focus on character development. All incoming 6th graders at WESS are assigned to a Crew and remain with this same Crew (the same group of students and the same Crew leader) for the duration of their experience at WESS.
- Learning expeditions are long-term, in-depth studies on a theme that occur across classes in each grade to enable students to make interdisciplinary connections, engage in research, solve real-world problems, and publicly present their learning.
- Student-engaged assessments allow students to see the purpose of their learning, strive to meet success criteria, reflect upon their progress, and set goals. They are comprised of a set of practices that includes units and daily instruction grounded in clear and measurable learning targets, reflection, feedback and revision, student-led conferences (SLCs), and “Passages” presentations.
- Continuous improvement: EL Education schools engage in a process of annual goal-setting and progress-monitoring to ensure that all stakeholders are grounded in a shared sense of purpose and looking at and responding to data, that the community continues to grow, and that all staff and student needs are being met.
Click here to learn about an Expeditionary Learning Protocol known as Building Background Knowledge.
Links to books that the school has recommended about EL: