What if students could guide their own learning by formulating their own questions around passions and curiosities?

What if they could discover their own answers rather than just passively learning whatever someone else decides to teach with that day?

What if learning really did extend beyond the walls of the classroom?

Young Fives students immerse themselves in MODA’s Designing Playful Cities – an exhibit inspiring designers and developers to create playful spaces and friendly places in our city.

PRESCHOOL: Expeditioners are seekers of knowledge and explorers of their world.

When Preschool students go on a field-site visit to investigate a topic, they are consumed with gathering information. The group is given an idea of what will happen before they set out on their expedition. Each child has a specific task to accomplish:

  • Write and ask interview questions, then record answers on a clipboard with drawings and inventive spelling.
  • Observe and draw interesting artifacts or objects they might want to later build or represent.
  • Focus on measuring and graphing.
  • Concentrate on gathering evidence in the form of photos to take back to the classroom.

Teachers plan for field site visits by helping students to prepare their questions and wonders, organizing the materials the children will need that day, and guiding them as they decide what their jobs will be during the expedition. These trips look different from a field trip because it IS different! Children conduct field site visits with a clear purpose, gathering information to take back to the classroom. They are conducting their own research and organizing the data.

McKinley Tann silently absorbs Atlanta BeltLine public artwork, a sharp contrast to the curated art collection he recently viewed at the High Museum of Art.

LOWER SCHOOL: Expeditions bring learning to life!

The classroom walls do not set the boundaries of learning in the Lower School. We believe that wondering and wandering beyond our classrooms can be a rich and valuable experience that makes learning more like real life. Students understand that learning takes place all around them through focused trips to areas around the city, which connect directly to the curriculum content the students are exploring in class.

When learners venture out on an expedition, programmings is intended to be flexible. The students set out in small groups on a mission to build knowledge, find the answers to their curiosities, and observe the practical application of the concepts learned in the classroom setting.

MV fifth graders join their peers at Davis Academy to build community and create connections between their faith traditions. 

MIDDLE SCHOOL: Expeditions encourage students to engage beyond the classroom, fostering deeper, intentional learning.

Expeditionary learning allows our students the opportunity to explore content in an authentic environment to better understand where their learning actually lives in the world, and to answer the question, “Why do I need to know this?”

This year in Middle School, grade 7 Spanish students visited Garden Hills Elementary School to learn more about immigration from diverse points of view. Consequently, they collaborated with Garden Hills Kindergarten students to write an original bilingual storybook. Earth Science students journeyed to a local park to test the mining tools they designed and built. In math, students ventured to Whole Foods to explore how ratios and proportions apply to and impact their shopping.

A group of Upper School students traveled to North Springs Charter High School to begin a conversation they’re calling #strongertogether, asking how might we bridge the gap between public and private schools to change the community?

UPPER SCHOOL: Expeditions challenge our students to think, gather, and apply.

Expeditions are critical to learning. Without field visits, our learners would not be able to collect data, curate artifacts or make the connections necessary to enhance their knowledge.

This year, Upper School students traveled to the Chattahoochee Nature Center to test water quality, met with Dr. Y. Khalid Siddiq at the Al-Farooq Masjid to collect answers to research questions that would inform comics they created addressing the Western perceptions of Islam. We also had a group of students travel to Memphis, Tennessee for an overnight expedition, where they attended an event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years after his assassination. They didn’t just attend the ceremony, though, they gathered video footage for the Virtual Reality (VR) component of their museum exhibit that will open at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in June. Another group of students traveled to North Springs High School to begin a public/private partnership. The end goal is not simply to see and experience, but to use the information to create something worth celebrating.

Expeditions This Year Included

11 Preschool Expeditions: MODA, Roswell Mill, Thrasher Worth Law Office, Dunwoody Nature Center, Cooper Piano Store, Riverwood High School, Riverside Park, Sandy Springs Plaza

24 Lower School Expeditions: Atlanta Zoo, Home Depot, Dekalb Farmers Market, Elachee Nature Center, Center, Dunwoody Nature Center, Center for Civil and Human Rights, IKEA, Fernbank, Atlanta Beltline

4 Middle School Expeditions: Whole Foods, Garden Hills Elementary School, Hammond Park, Davis Academy

8 Upper School Expeditions: Center for Civil and Human Rights, Ponce City Market, Beltline, National Civil Rights Museum/Memphis, MODA, Buckhead Christian Ministry, Chick-fil-A Hatch, 5th Street Bridge