Morning Arrival, Flexible - 8:00 to 8:30 am
A flexible arrival time accommodates a family schedule. Arriving students turn in any work they completed at home, enjoy reading time, or just enjoy time with friends until school begins.
Morning Gathering - 8:30 to 8:45 am
Students assemble for an informal gathering and devotional to start the day.
Break/Recess - 10:15 to 10:25 am
Lunch/Recess - 11:15 to 11:45 pm
Break/Recess - 1:15 to 1:45 pm
POD 7 - Chess and PE on Alternating Days
Clean Up & Closing Assembly - 3:15 to 3:30 pm
During this end-of-day gathering, students will have the opportunity to narrate about something they learned or discovered that day, a good opportunity to learn comfort speaking to others. Some days students may show project work or share reports or hobby work products. Other days there will be a fun review time or a short wind-up project or discussion. Students will also have rotating responsibilities to clean up the classroom before the end of the day. Students will then pack up for dismissal.
There are no huge classes at NDA. For learning cycles, students are grouped together in small groups called PODS (Process-Organized Discipline Study). Each learning cycle -- such as history, science, or math -- runs around these small, collaborative pods.
The pods are essentially study and work groups that collectively discover new concepts and complete challenges or activities as a group. Kids work around write-on tables, so they can formulate plans or discover solutions together.
Kids enjoy cooperating in small peer groups. In their pods, students with common capabilities work together in collaborative circles. They might enjoy a discussion, draft a solution to an active challenge, or work together on a history project.
Throughout the day, students gather in PODS (Process-Organized Discipline Study) for their classes. Each cycle runs around small pods; these are essentially study and work groups that discover new concepts together and complete challenges or activities as a group. Students start in their "Home" pod to prepare for their day.
Students rotate through learning a new math concept; practicing the concept with manipulatives or group problem-solving; and then showing written work. Some groups work independently so that students receive the particular instruction they need. In some classes, students may be asked to solve a challenge problem together on their write-on tables, or develop a real-life use for this new concept.
During this cycle, young students work on phonics skills, reading comprehension, basic spelling, handwriting, and play hands-on phonics games. Older students will discover a grammar concept, work on vocabulary, spelling, and cursive, as well as completing fun grammar challenges and creative writing or expression prompts.
Students in a project pod will encounter projects that add to their science, history, or culture studies. Those in elective classes enjoy specialized instruction in junior- or senior-high-level topics.
In the History & Culture Cycle, students discover a history, culture and/or geography topic, then explore what they've learned through group projects or games, interactive journaling, mapping, or pod problem-solving.
Perhaps on this day, students are learning about the Boston Tea Party. First, they'll explore revolutionary activity in the city of Boston, and together as a pod lay out a late 1700's map of Boston to locate revolutionary hotspots. Together with their pod, they may list out how to motivate fellow revolutionaries to show up at Boston Harbor to protest by tossing tea in the bay, while younger students create their own Native American disguises and act out the "Tea Party." Students can finish the cycle with a cup of the same tea that the rebels threw in the harbor, direct from Britain’s oldest tea merchant Davison, Newman & Co. Their tea chests were destroyed in the 1773 tea party!
Pods change again so older students and younger are split into groups tailored for them. Two days a week, older students discover a worldview topic, then engage in a roundtable discussion or, as a group, respond to a given challenge. The other two days, older students study Bible topics or passages. Meanwhile, younger students discover Bible stories and truths, and work on memorization and fun activities that reinforce the learning.
As the day draws to a close, the students enjoy another block of active learning, as they encounter science topics related to their history study, or nature topics relevant to understanding the natural world around us. They will discover the trees, plants, and birds of our region, and learn how to grow or gather food and understand the lives and habits of the animals that make their homes here.
Let's say that on this day, students were going to learn about life in a dead tree. First, they would learn about how a dead tree supports a woodland ecosystem, and hear about which animals make use of the tree in a given way. Then, students would hike out into the woods on the campus to find and examine a dead tree, taking sketch books and lapdesks along. Once a good specimen is located, each group will sit and sketch their observations, writing down notes on holes and other marks on the tree. They would complete a checklist of things to observe and consider, such as wood chips, sawdust, hole sizes, and shapes, and be given the chance to discuss and decide the importance of each find. Upon returning to the building, each student can look up an animal or insect that makes its home in dead trees in their field books, and add notes about it to their sketch.
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