Two classes are never alike at Oxford Academy, a boarding school for young men ages 13-20. Oxford’s one-to-one classes allow students to work in partnership with their teachers to build a course that’s not only right for their learning profile, but also incorporates their personal interests and hands-on activities.
In an Applied Mathematics course, one student developed a project to bring the textbook material to life: building two chairs. He developed a budget for materials, created a plan of action to accomplish the project, and utilized his math concepts from the classroom to ensure that the furniture was not only beautiful, but fully functional.
Hands-on learning is also showcased in the school’s annual Maple Sugaring project, a long-term unit that involves almost all the science disciplines (see a video of students in action). Students taking Environmental Science track the health of the sugar bush, while those in Chemistry measure the sugar content of sap. After several weeks of studying the trees, collecting sap, and boiling it down, they’re rewarded with a delicious end result.
Visual learners don’t need to take an art class to explore their artistic side: they can work with Oxford’s art teacher to express their understanding through painting, sculpture, photography, and more. One student reading Moby Dick for English class chose to create a papier-mâché interpretation, as opposed to a typical essay.
“Our model of personalized learning not only connects the subject matter to a student’s interests and talents,” says Dean of Studies Marti White, “but also spurs motivation, making for a richer, deeper educational experience.”