Four times a week Elm Middle School students begin their day with "Exploratory," an innovative program in which students take three-week mini-courses on a variety of topics.
In these classes they learn about subjects that are either outside of their regular core curriculum or not covered as extensively as they would be in a stand-alone course.
How Exploratory Works
Students are divided into small groups, and each group attends one of approximately a dozen 32-minute classes per grade that are offered at the same time.
Once a three-week block is completed, students rotate to the next Exploratory class on their schedule. By the end of the school year, students will have rotated through the entire menu of classes for their grade.
Examples of Exploratory Classes
Recent Exploratory classes for 7th graders have included:
► Codes & Ciphers
► Intro to Robotics
► Language Usage
► Money Matters — Consumer Economics
► Reading for Scientific Knowledge
Recent Exploratory classes for 8th graders have included:
► American Sign Language
► Creative Writing
► Money, Interest, Taxes, Budgets
► Positivity Task Force — Building School Climate
► Road to College
► STEM — Electricity
Teachers develop their topics in collaboration with the Elm administration. Exploratory classes are not graded.
Year-Round Instruction During Exploratory
Some instruction during Exploratory is offered year-round or doesn't rotate on a three-week basis.
For example, students participating in Concert Choir use their Exploratory period to take Chorus 7/8 throughout the school year.
Students who have been identified as eligible for accelerated learning opportunities use their Exploratory period for enrichment instruction.
Students who need reading intervention, English Learner support or help in math and language arts receive their supplemental instruction during Exploratory.
In addition, students required to take supervised study hall do so during Exploratory.