Four years ago, Jim, Wes, and I had discussed the idea of teaching a course that linked our content areas - art, English, and social studies. We truly believed that building this type of program would increase student engagement. Our extremely loose proposal - to our surprise - got approved by administration and over the next 5 months we developed what became known as Apollo.
Apollo was created to give students control over their learning. Over the course of a semester, students incubate, design, and innovate four interest-based projects that fuses our content areas. Each project is tied to an overarching theme that allows learners to research and create unique pieces that intertwine their interpretation of our subjects. Through their products, they must use one of four thinking skills to enhance their process. Each learner is also required to find and connect national and state standards to their project. At the end of a project cycle, students have a genuine conversation with us about their progress, problems, and successes.
What truly makes Apollo unique, though, is that learners build their own schedule on a daily basis. After family time - our version of a class meeting - the students populate their schedule to show us where and what they’re working on for four hours. So, if someone needed to spend three hours annotating To Kill a Mockingbird - they simply put it in their schedule. It’s their time and their space. Students can also attend mini-lessons that typically reinforce more general pieces of our curricula. Or, they have the power to request a lesson on anything needed for their project - Frida Kahlo, Margaret Thatcher, Iambic-pentameter. Really, we cater to their needs.
If you're interested in hearing more about our program, click the logo at the top of the page or one of the images below. The program webpage highlights student work. The TEDx Talk and Cult of Pedagogy video/audio provide a more in-depth discussion to our process.