Methodology

Aspire Methodology: Learn to Think, Learn to Do, Learn to Be!

Big Ideas! Each learning studio starts with a motivating big idea for the year, which helps drive our learners. Because the big idea is interwoven into each studio’s learning arc, Socratic Discussions, and Quests for the year, it helps add contextual focus to otherwise disparate subjects.

Socratic Discussions! Learners engage in higher-order thinking, scaled to their developmental level, and are encouraged to reflect and examine multiple perspectives of real-world issues and relevant topics, learning through each other’s diverse opinions. We embrace being a “stand up and speak out” environment, executed with respect, where everyone’s opinion matters and is impactful.

Quests! Project-Based Learning (PBL), or Quests as we call them, are a highly effective method of education where students are given an engaging, complex challenge to investigate and respond to. We use mastery portfolios which generally include a product, service, or presentation to demonstrate the knowledge and skills that the students have gained through their work and act as our evaluation of their progress. PBL is the best way to develop deep content knowledge and skills in critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and effective communication, unleashing a contagious, creative energy and love of learning among students. And utilizing our Quest format ensures the PBL is engaging, fun, motivating, and relevant.

No Grades – No Tests – No Homework!
JOY + RIGOR = MASTERY: We don’t rely on or believe in using standardized (or any kind of ) “tests” to measure a learner’s level of understanding or “success.” We are of the “show me what you can do” attitude! Our learners earn badges to prove they’ve mastered new skills and build amazingly rich portfolios.

HOW DOES IT WORK:

  • Badges track academic progress in core skills as well as character development.
  • Learners celebrate the mastery of tools, skills, and character by earning badges, assembling portfolios, and taking part in public exhibitions.
  • Electronic and hard-copy portfolios capture rough drafts, photos, videos, and other creative work.
  • Public exhibitions at the end of most quests allow learners to present their work to their families, experts, customers, or the public for a real-world test of their work output.

Enriching Fridays! We offer additional time for choice work or mini-projects on Fridays. Learners are often off-site in the afternoons, with movement-centric activities like skiing, rock climbing, and hiking. Aspire strives to support families, enabling you to spend extra time together or take a 3-day weekend.

Sprints & Choice Weeks! Aspire Academy learners work hard and play hard! Aspire divides the year into eight main sessions, which we call “Sprints” from the Agile Methodology. A Sprint is a rigorous work period measured in weeks, not months, resulting in the highest possible value output. During Aspire’s Sprints, learners embark on a Quest with a specific academic focus. After the Sprint, the Learners enjoy a “Choice Week,” allowing their brain to reset and assimilate everything. Choice Weeks are flexible enrichment with week-long focused topics, enabling the learners to discover & focus on their interests. 

Examples: Robotics – build a robot! Astronaut – astrology and build a rocket! Coding – create games and apps! Skiing – slopes everyday with back-country survival training! Performing Arts – learn stage presence and acrobatics!  Beach – oceanography & volleyball intensive! Or use week for family vacation.