Expeditionary Learning

The curriculum and teaching style used in our elementary program is based on the Expeditionary Learning (EL) model.  Based on state and national standards, EL is an instructional model and approach to teaching where all students discover they are capable of more than they thought possible.

EL professional development equips our teachers to design learning experiences that have application and meaning beyond the classroom. Our students learn academic skills in the context of doing meaningful and relevant work. Experts and resources are brought into classrooms and structured fieldwork introduces our students to real life applications of what they learn in class. The Expeditions culminate in presentations where our students present their work to an audience of significance. Many expeditions are designed to serve real community needs. EL enables us to ignite student motivation, persistence and compassion to propel their growth and success in school, college, career and life.

Expeditionary Learning is a network of 165 schools that started as a partnership between the Harvard School of Education and Outward Bound. It provides professional development to schools across the country, serving more than 4000 teachers and 40,000 students. See the Expeditionary Learning website at www.elschools.org.

This is how kids WANT to learn.

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, when visiting an Expeditionary Learning school in Portland, ME.

Examples of Expeditions


Studied and worked with community farm throughout the year to produce an Alphabet Book featuring farm life.  The farm is using the book to promote their educational mission.

Grades 1 and 2

Studied water cycle through research, interviews with experts, experiments, and fieldwork. Produced magazine on the water cycle and sold copies of it to raise money for a ministry to the homeless in the Boston area. Students were able to visit the ministry, learn about it firsthand, and deliver their gift in person.

Grades 3

Studied storms and preparedness through research, speaking with a meterologist and The Red Cross. Developed a storm guide to teach people about natural disasters and how they can be prepared. See their finished product here: NCS Storm Guide

Grades 4 and 5

Studied the Mill Brook in Arlington, helping to promote a linear park proposed by a town committee. Students studied the history of the brook, tested water quality, explored environmental issues, and outlined some of the benefits a linear park would bring to the community.