What is a Learning Expedition?
Learning expeditions are a central part of every EL Education school. In Learning Expeditions, teams of teachers design big projects that bring learning alive for students. Students explore real problems and big ideas that require them to conduct original research, think critically, engage in problem solving, and build character and academic skills. At Franklin, all Learning Expeditions include a component of service that is closely tied to what students are learning – giving students the opportunity to do real work that matters.
When teachers collaborate to design a Learning Expedition, they start with their curriculum. What are students expected to know and be able to do? From here, teachers look for common themes, and then come up with a big idea or problem that brings everything together. For example, in 7th grade Social Studies, students learn about the Industrial Revolution. In science, they study physics, examining how mechanical energy is created and transferred, and how simple machines improve the efficiency of work. These standards come together in an Expedition that examines the big question of how technology changes society, for better and for worse. In math, students apply their understandings of ratios and proportional relationships to create scale drawings of compound machines, which they then build. As the final project, students create museum exhibits in which they display the machines they have built, explaining the role their machine has played in history.
In spring of 2018, 9th grade students examined the forces of climate change globally and in our region. After in-depth investigations, students created Public Service Announcements promoting a resilient response to specific threats posed to WNC residents. These PSAs were showcased at a public Celebration of Learning in Pack Square, in the heart of Asheville.
Learning expeditions take multiple, powerful elements of the EL model and join them together: guiding questions, kickoff experiences, case studies, projects, lessons, fieldwork, experts, service learning, and a culminating event featuring high-quality student work. This video showcases student work from the 2018 9th grade expedition, “The End of the World As We Know It“.