Summit Traverse’s blended-learning approach to academics integrates face-to-face teacher facilitated instruction, an accredited computer-mediated curriculum, and self-study with the same therapeutic support provided in other parts of the program. Our approach puts the student at the center of learning by creating a personalized experience that is self-paced. This unique model promotes mastery of concepts in a group setting that encourages the development of skills needed in a more traditional setting while allowing for differentiated learning and accommodation to learning differences. The modular curriculum allows students to keep pace as well as an opportunity to achieve intensive academic credit recovery.
Summit has a fully equipped Academic Center and, as an extension of the Summit Achievement program, is licensed by the State of Maine as a non-traditional private school. Throughout their involvement with the program, students attend school in classrooms staffed by core-subject teachers, work in individually selected courses with an opportunity to earn academic credits, and practice skills that will transfer to private or public school settings. Each student is assigned an academic advisor who monitors progress in each of their courses and assists in transitional planning for the student’s next educational setting.
Students attend school Monday through Friday, for approximately 28 instructional hours, plus 8–9 hours of study hall per week. The school program is structured much like a traditional school. There are four classrooms, each staffed by a core-subject teacher who provides supervision and instructional assistance, at a ratio of one teacher to eight students. Classrooms are equipped with laptop computers connected to a protected network that blocks access to social networking sites, email, and other online distractions. Class periods are 75 minutes in length with a short break between periods and a mid-morning snack break.
During class periods, each student works individually, using a laptop computer to access the accredited web-based curriculum. Learning is self-paced, enhanced with occasional group discussion facilitated by classroom teachers. When a student has demonstrated mastery of the material in a lesson, they can proceed to the next lesson without waiting on other students to finish. On the other hand, if the student has difficulty understanding the material, a lecture may be replayed or an interactive module repeated. Through this process students have ownership of their learning, gaining confidence and pride in concrete accomplishments.
Accommodations are made based on a student’s IEP, 504 plan, and other recognized learning differences that may have been previously unidentified. The multi-sensory learning modules easily adapt to suit preferred learning styles and allow each student to work at their own pace in his own way. Classroom teachers are immediately available to assist students in mastering difficult concepts, provide encouragement, and offer an alternate approach to learning material.
The blended-learning approach supports executive function development by increasing competence in organization, time-management, autonomy, accountability, and mastery of 21st century skills. For example, each Friday is “open campus” day during which the student assumes responsibility for structuring and scheduling their day. They start by checking in with the teachers to plan the day and schedule office hours with specific teachers for extra help. The open campus concept means students determine where and how they want to learn. They may utilize any classroom of their choosing or take their assigned laptop to the “Traverse Lounge” to work on their web-based lessons. On the other hand, a student may decide to find a spot outdoors to read or complete written assignments. This unstructured format requires students to utilize their organizational and time-management skills to plan their day and be accountable for the results.
Each student builds an academic portfolio, during the program,that includes:
- Individualized learning style assessment report
- Daily and weekly academic checklists to assist with organization and executive functioning
- Weekly individualized goals for coursework, class performance, and study skills collaboratively set with an academic advisor
- Daily coursework progress logs
This portfolio, along with the student’s grade report, lesson progress outline, and transcript, provides a concrete presentation of the classroom progress and goals made by the student and details the academic work completed while at Traverse. Should the student not complete their courses entirely during their stay at Traverse, they may select to complete them at home or at their next educational setting. Some students also elect to extend their stay at Traverse to afford them the opportunity to complete the courses they started.
The student’s academic advisor assists the student and the family in planning for the transition to the next educational setting, whether it be private or public school, day or boarding environments. The advisor serves as a liaison with future schools to assist in transition plans and communicating the student’s current academic standing.