Advisory provides a time for a small group of students to meet with their advisor for academic guidance, social support, development of academic portfolios and self-directed learning challenges, and for fun. One of the goals of the advisory is for an adult to know each Watershed student well, academically and socially, and across all learning experiences.
All School Meeting
Monthly gatherings of the entire school led by an advisory group. The purpose is to connect as a whole community with a moment of silence, announcements, an activity, and pass the pulse.
Assessment occurs on an ongoing basis through review of portfolio entries and reflections,project evaluations, public presentations of learning, and other evaluations of students’ learning and community involvement. These include self-reflections and educator assessments, regular one-on-one meetings with advisors, and feedback from community mentors.
At Watershed, our vision of academic excellence is one in which we take pride in our work, pay careful attention to detail, and are responsive to the feedback of others. This approach is described as craftsmanship.
A weekly time for activities that build and strengthen the community.
Learning Expeditions are interdisciplinary courses that involve a project-based approach to learning, and connect students to the community context in which they are studying, whether global or the local Boulder Creek Watershed community. Learning Expeditions serve as the focal point of each term at Watershed. Spring and Fall Term Expeditions meet 4-5 days per week for a total of 11-16 hours per week. May Term Expeditions meet 5-7 days per week in an immersion context that have students engaged in one experience 40 hours or more per week. Learning Expeditions have strong academic content such as applied physics, topics of chemistry, U.S. and world history, and language arts and literacy. They incorporate community resources, involve service work and environmental stewardship, often include overnight excursions, focus on developing “products of meaning,” and conclude with public “Presentations of Learning.” Learning Expeditions may immerse our students in wilderness, into other cultures, or may be focused on the local context.
Expedition Behavior is behavior and thinking—a mindset and an “action-set”—that maximizes your personal responsibility for yourself and your belongings, and benefits the group. The elements of Expedition Behavior are:
- Managing yourself (examples: being on time to school,
eating well, getting adequate sleep, being alert and attentive, making life-affirming personal
- Managing your belongings (examples: keeping your
locker clean and organized, checking that you have what you need for school each morning,
cleaning up after yourself throughout the day)
- Managing your responsibilities (examples: doing your
homework, maintaining stewardship responsibilities)
When a person manages one’s self, one’s belongings and one’s responsibilities effectively,
he or she is more likely to have the mental and physical energy available to maximize one’s
contribution to the group by asking: Who could use my help now? What does my group need
now? What are the opportunities for me to do more than my share?
Electives provide enrichment opportunities for all students, and include Arts, Academics,
Wellness and Leadership. Electives typically meet one time per week for an extended meeting
of approximately 45-105 minutes.
Festival of the Arts and Intellectual Reflection. The festival of the arts and intellectual reflection is a public celebration of learning that allows students to reflect, analyze and synthesize the course they are completing. Possible formats range from poster galleries to whole group, multimedia presentations to dramatic interpretations. The entire community is invited, along with family, friends and interested guests at the end of each term to the event.
FAIR Prep Week
The week prior to FAIR students and teachers engage in preparations for the festival. This
includes creating and rehearsing group performances, installing work around the school, and
generally helping one another to polish and present our accomplishments as learners for the
In contrast to field trips, Watershed School students engage with direct experiences in the
community. Fieldwork may entail interviews with experts, service work, or data collection.
A time to come together in the mornings to share announcements, stories or sharing for the community’s benefit, along with things we are grateful for and appreciations of other members of the group.
Go to the Source
Students who have interpersonal conflict are, first and foremost, expected to “go to the source” when possible, using constructive approaches to resolve the conflict. This means that students are expected to seek to resolve the conflict by talking to the person with whom they are having the conflict rather than talking to others about the person. Staff and peer mediators will be available to assist in this process and students are encouraged to seek support should they find themselves in a conflict situation.
Integrity, Craftsmanship and Expeditionary behavior are the standards set for students to work together academically and socially.
Individual presentations of earning that each student prepares for and presents to a group of students, parents and staff.
To act with integrity requires consistency between our words and our behavior. Integrity calls us to treat others and ourselves with respect and dignity. A deeper meaning of integrity is
to be whole, so living with integrity also challenges us develop our whole selves – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Periodic excursions designed to empower students to take leadership roles in their lives.
A weekly event that features a member of the broader community who visits the school to share his or her story of living a life of meaning and purpose.
A broad sweep of a student’s overall demeanor and engagement as a member of the Watershed School community. In addition, the advisor narrative describes specific information
about how a student is doing academically and socially, how well the student is upholding their commitment to Integrity, Craftsmanship and Expeditionary behavior (ICE), and what areas a
student is particularly strong in or challenged by.
Pass the Pulse
A silent passing of a hand squeeze by the entire group to end a gathering or all school meeting.
Activities, courses and conversations to help mark students’ passage into a new phase of their lives – into adolescence, into young adulthood, and leaving high school.
Public presentations of learning by groups of students that occur at the end of each term at FAIR.
Students compile and reflect on their best work from their learning expeditions, classes and electives.
Quarterly reports that provide a snapshot of individual progress in academic coursework.
In the absence of grades, performance and progress are assessed using the concept of proficiency. Satisfactory proficiency means that the student has a basic understanding of
the major concepts, skills and experiences of the course. The four proficiency levels are Unsatisfactory, Satisfactory, Proficient and Distinguished. Proficiency levels do not correspond to traditional letter grades.
Extended academic trips that also provide opportunities for students to live and work closely together as a team.
Classes that focus on grade level content in math, Spanish, music and art.
Frequent opportunities for students to share in the maintenance and support of the functioning of the school.
Student Led Parent Conferences
Students lead a discussion of their academic progress and involvement in community curriculum.
Tools of Learning
In each of our courses and in advisory, we ask students to practice the following “tools of learning” that lead to success in any endeavor. Promptness, Preparedness, Participation,
Communication, Collaboration, Community, Craftsmanship. Students are assessed and coached in each of these areas on a continuing and frequent basis.
Way of Council
A regular opportunity for students to speak and listen from their hearts in a safe and sacred space.
The Watershed Wilderness Orientation is designed to impel students into value forming experiences, forging a stronger sense of self, relationship to community and the natural world. Students are engaged in a shared experience focusing on wilderness skills, community, grit and character development realized through challenge, teamwork and adventure. High School students participate on a nine-day wilderness experience and our middle school students participate on a four to five day experience that is vehicle supported. For new students this is an excellent opportunity to build new relationships and become familiar with the school’s values and philosophy. The wilderness orientation has proven to be an exceptional experience, one that has provided valuable lessons that can be transferred back to everyday life in and out of Watershed School.