Academics at the Marram School are initiated by students and guided by staff as needed. Academic learning occurs largely through independent, self-directed projects and studies, as well as through chosen classes and group work. Students are responsible for completing a semester long project about a topic of their choosing that is presented to the school community at the end of each semester. There are minimal requirements for students so they have time to spend on learning endeavors at their own discretion, as well as build problem solving, communication and creative skills through play and conversation.
The goal of the academics program goes beyond content knowledge and seeks to develop the skills of resourcefulness, creative problem solving, written and oral communication and critical thinking. This is accomplished through the technique of the teachers, as well as them modeling these skills in the community.
Details for how the academic program is structured are listed below.
Students suggest classes they would like to take at the beginning of each semester. Teachers may also suggest classes to offer. Students sign up for an initial round of classes during organization week at the beginning of each semester. Any classes that do not have a minimum of 3 students will not take place. Students who signed up for those classes will go through a second round of sign-ups. Classes that did not have enough students can be proposed again in the future or students can turn that content into an independent study.
Students choose at least one area of independent study to pursue at one time. Ideally, this study would last the semester or longer, however, if a student no longer wishes to learn about this topic, they can switch to another study at any time. Students will discuss their independent study ideas with a staff member and together they set goals and determine how to accomplish them (research, projects, experiments, papers, making books, drawings, workbooks, models, etc., or a combination of).
Staff will give lessons about topic as needed, check work and help the student when needed. They will help procure and connect the student with resources as needed.
While each student would be responsible for their own work, they can work with other students for independent study. Examples of Independent Study include fractions, studying a particular historical event, using manipulatives to learn the four basic math operations, learning about a particular period in art history, botany and algebra.
Students are responsible for completing one project each semester. This project will culminate with a presentation of research on Presentation Day at the end of each semester.
Students choose any topic they are interested in to research for the semester. They will meet with a staff member and discuss a plan to complete it by the end of the semester. The students set deadlines and keep them. Projects must include a written component, visual aids, presentation of data and a culminating project. It can include more than this, such as models and experiments. Examples of topics range from animals, to historical eras to electric cars, and culminating projects range from books, movies, and plays to live demonstrations and food tasting.
All students and their families attend Presentation Day. Students have the opportunity to display their work, present and answer questions about their projects. The Semester Project gives students the opportunity to learn and practice communication skills and project planning and management. It also gives them the satisfaction of pursuing an interest and pride from completing and sharing such a large project each semester.
Students will create a transcript at the end of each semester. It will include classes taken, Independent Studies, Semester Projects, Volunteer and Work experiences, offices held and other creative accomplishments. It will also include a small narrative written by the student about how they feel they have grown during the semester and what they hope to do next semester.