Preparation for the Expedition
At BIS we run an innovative custom designed curriculum, perfectly uniting all elements of learning. We call it “The Expedition”.
The Expedition Curriculum is designed to stimulate a sense of powerful exploration for the learners at BIS and build in them a deep confidence in how to learn to achieve their goals. The term ‘Expedition’ refers to the process of learning by using a metaphor of the child as the explorer.
This expedition metaphor is carried throughout each part of the learning framework to create a clear holistic vision for the staff and community, but most importantly to create a concrete and manipulatable connection between the child and their own learning journey.
The Map - Learning plan
Before starting a leg of their expedition the student must have a plan! Are they doing a guided or structured inquiry, where they have to respond to a specific set of requirements or processes, or are they doing a more open inquiry? Is the map a class-based one or an individually focused one? These are written documents with either a specified path (if someone has been here before) or set with a start and finish, and spaces ready for checkpoints and training. This is to help the child see the progression of their learning as a concrete experience, rather than an abstract goal in the distant future.
The Pack - Core skills & knowledge
These are the tools needed for exploring: without core skills and knowledge exploration is very limited. The explicit training and skill development that are necessary for inquiry and investigations are defined and identified. All the basic skills in the subject they are exploring are taught in the first few weeks, however, as the children explore further beyond the class starting point, they may need more skills specific to their journey.
At this point a student may be pulling back to Training for a while–for example the Exploration of Ancient Rome may have led a student to need to understand Roman Numerals and Latin–so they will need to pull back to Basecamp for a few days so that the teacher can help them learn this skill.
The Crew - Teachers and Teamwork
Who is in your crew or are you going alone? Will you need experts or specialist help? How will you get it? This is the section of the plan where the student and teacher co-develop the support program for this exploration to succeed. The specific Location and Observational Tools identified for each student is very pertinent in designing the crew as one child might need to work on group work whilst another needs to learn to work alone to fully build their learning skills.
The Checkpoints - Schedule
It is important for any explorer to check they are on the right track and on schedule. Depending on their level of self direction and general development the amount of time put aside for exploring will vary.
The Big Cats will usually do one-day projects whereas the Dolphins will be more likely to achieve five-week explorations. Similar considerations are placed on when Checkpoints must be met. The Big Cat needs constant supervision and checking in whereas the Dolphin is being trained in how to follow the task over time and check in when needed to gain the best result.
The Terrain – Learning Objectives & Content
The expanse of learning objectives in the expedition covers the three key areas of an Integral Curriculum:
- The Self (Body and Mind)
- The Community (BIS Values )
- The World (Australian Curriculum)
Each child has a huge terrain to explore in their time at BIS as they unlock the levels of their learning. They have specific goals to reach in each of the objectives. The narrowing of this Terrain to really specific learning ‘Maps’ happens through the teacher applying the key Integral Tools for Exploring using standard assessment methods ( such as ACER, PROBE, Pre-testing) and observation by staff:
- Perspective Tools (developmental level needs for them to work through systematically so that they are confident at each stage of their development)
- Direction Tools (consolidating learning areas that they need to personally focus upon: one child might need more English and another Social Skills)
- Observational Tools (evening out learning and personality type biases that may see them avoid or obsess in an area)
- Focusing Tools (learning how to control body and mind for reflection, mindfulness, creativity and connection)
- Once each child has their maps for subjects and areas of study defined through teacher analysis and co-creation they are ready to work on with their classmates on Exploring or Training.
Basecamp – Training, planning & core skills
Each class has a starting out point of rich questions and themes to explore through discussion. From the first fews weeks of exposure to a topic by their teacher, training in necessary first step skills and planning, the student is ready to begin the exploration.
At Base Camp the students work with the teacher through direct training and instruction. The experience of training is designed to help the student gain the information and skills they need swiftly, so they can go on to their exploration. This is an important process for students to learn as they have the expanse of the learning they need to cover tracked with them, and the notion of “unlocking” skills and levels is key to the process.
This is the folder that contains all the records of skill attainment mastered:
- ORIENTATION – The specific content I need to learn
- TESTS & ANALYSIS – Tools to analyse and test across subjects
- COMMUNICATION – Modes and methods of communication across subjects, from English Genres to how to use PREZI to share your vision
- DREAMS & DESIGNS – Processes and methods for designing and brainstorming
- LICENSES, PERMITS, AWARDS – achieved to access learning sites in the school and tools within those sites.
- MAPS – My maps for this term and My Class Maps
- REVIEW – My Final Work and Future Skills
An Exploration – Understanding through projects
The student takes on one of two roles when they explore a topic:
- Map Reader or
- Map Maker
The role is very important to identify with the student as it allows them to know how much choice they will get in their journey and how much of the exploration will be about learning more about a well-trodden path. This is expressed in the planning through 4 types of Maps that the students will be given:
- LEVEL 1 – A carefully designed map that is created with the student goals in mind as well as the areas that they need training in. This level of Map has little room for changing path, just in areas such as the time spent at each checkpoint and the support needed.
- LEVEL 2 – This map has a clear goal that gets narrowed down to work with the interests of the group or the child. There are specific checkpoints that must be reached and a date to complete the exploration and return with all their learning to display at Basecamp.
- LEVEL 3 – The guided mapping process of this type of exploration will provide a topic and an end point with part of the learning for the child around identifying the checkpoints when they need training. This is quite an open exploration that requires careful design by the teacher to ensure that the topic will be opening the exploration to cover the areas the children need.
- LEVEL 4 – This is a simple map with some basic safety and timeline parameters that allow the student to be the cartographer and explore the topics to the depth they wish. This is usually the OMNI project process design as it allows the child to engage in some solid opportunities for self direction.
Depending on the Basecamp developmental stage these Explorations may run for a day (Big Cats) or a term (Dolphins) and they may involve little self direction with lots of scaffolding (Big Cats) to expectations of self direction (Dolphins).
Topics for maps that we have explored include:
- “Sharing Tastes” – with some checkpoint examples such as: Science (tastebuds and digestion), Geography (other cultural tastes), HPE (community), Technology (cooking and preparing foods), Music (tastes in art), Maths (data collection) and Writing (recipes and procedures).
- “Naming Places” – with some checkpoint examples such as: Maths (coordinates), Writing (signs and recounts of explorations), Science (taxonomy), HPE (community building), Geography (mapping), ICT (making signs and labels) and History (Aboriginal names and European settlement)
The process of exploring is recorded using the child’s Expedition Folder. For each child this recording process may vary but the collection and study of new learning is always recorded.
Study Of Self Folder
The purpose of this book is to contain learning and explorations into the “Self”:
- My dreams and visualisations
- Ideas, important drawings of ideas
- My Feelings Record
- I love this about me! – strengths, helping people, skills
- Understanding my Behaviours
- Memories and Travel Diary (things to remember from their explorations)
The full primary school Terrain of learning goes in here and is the biannual recording of their developmental changes that forms a seven year treasure for the parent and child when they graduate.
It covers areas such as:
- Records of how they see time, friendships, moral dilemmas and the space around them
- Self Portrait and Hand Print as well as a graph for them to map their height
- Favourite work and future plans
- A letter from the parent to them, talking about significant changes they can see in their child’s development