Team Teaching and Interdisciplinarity
The Academic Studio works from the principle that interdisciplinary and applied learning fosters deep understanding. To encourage the integration of ideas and interdisciplinary exploration of topics, every integrated course has two teachers in the classroom on a daily basis. Each teacher is a specialist in the subject field (Integrated Sciences classes have one math specialist and one science specialist; Integrated Humanities courses have one english specialist and one history/ cultural-studies specialist). The teachers work together to develop an integrated curriculum based on grade-level-specific concepts. Students are able to approach questions through interdisciplinary inquiry. Teaching as part of a team also allows for daily critique (within teaching teams) on projects and pedagogy. As a result, each course curriculum is able to be improved and strengthened each year. In addition to working in a teaching pair, grade levels work together in “Full FOURce” to implement cross curricular projects and activities that demonstrate how we can more deeply understand many issues by approaching them from complex, multidisciplinary perspectives.
Project and Inquiry Based Learning
Academic Studio teachers see their role, not as transmitters of content, but as intellectual mentors that model skills and practices to allow students to learn to solve problems and grapple with ideas independently as active intellectuals. Students are guided to develop skills and understanding through a variety of means. Traditional lecture is kept to a minimum, though mini-lectures often serve as the launching-off point for independent or team-based investigations. In lieu of the use of traditional textbooks, students engage with digital and scholarly resources, expressive culture, and real-life experiences. In the humanities, this may involve scholarly texts; literature, film, and other forms of expressive culture; primary documents and other archival material. In the sciences, collection and/or interpretation of data is often used as the means of discovering an overarching pattern in the natural world. Collaborative learning is a common feature of work throughout Academic Studio, as is the communication of intellectual products through oral, written, visual and other creative artistic presentations. Place-based experiential learning is developed through the curricular framing of New Orleans’s and the Gulf Coast’s role in the science and humanities we study, and through field-trips and learning journeys which deeply engage students with their cultural and natural environment.
Creativity and Critical Thinking
Expression of both creativity and critical thinking in a wide variety of ways is essential to the NOCCA model. Some creative work is used as a means of confirming understanding of learning objectives or as “Creative Confirmation of Content (CCC)”. In other examples, creative/artistic work is used to encourage students to grapple with, pose questions about, or articulate positions on complex ideas explored in the classroom.