experiential, Student-Centered Learning
Nomad believes students have the power to enact real change. Our curriculum and projects are intended to educate and empower students to create change in their own communities. Being fully mobile allows us to participate in our communities and take advantage of all the learning potential of our entire city. By talking to our neighbors, asking questions, and collaborating with organizations and fellow city residents of all ages, we find ways to give back to the community in the projects we undertake. During the Fall 2016 semester, Nomad students designed the Burlingame city flag with input from members of the community, requests from City Council, and research from historians and librarians. In the past, students have designed tiny homes for the homeless, volunteered with local non-profits, and created apps to prevent bullying. We are replacing the prescriptive nature of most classroom projects with meaningful, real-world impact.
Learning by doing is crucial to the Nomad experience. Projects are inspired by our exploration and multi-disciplinary study of the current thematic arc topic. Teachers explicitly teach and model effective project management strategies, guiding students through the process of proposing, planning, executing, and presenting on a project until they are prepared to produce on their own. Nomad students complete a range of independent, small group, and whole group projects over the course of their time with us, and they are required to complete one project for each subject area per year. Students and teachers curate documentation, assessment, and portfolios of each child's work for all subjects and arcs.
At Nomad, we believe that core skills aren't the end goal but rather are necessary tools to create the projects of our dreams and to deeply explore the world. We define core skills as the academic basics that enable successful communication and computation required to thrive in today's world. We teach core skills through mini lessons, short but frequent skills practice, a variety of tried and true resources like Newsela, Howard Zinn Education Project, and Big History Project. Our educator(s) are experienced in implementing, modifying, and creating curriculum to meet the diverse needs of our mixed aged, mixed ability classes.
Social and EMOtional development
Cornerstone to the learning experience at Nomad is social-emotional development. Educators have 1:1 conferences with each child, set goals and track progress collaboratively, and have regular transparent conversations about building and sustaining relationships. We incorporate elements of council circles, restorative practices, self-awareness, reflection, and mindfulness. Open, progressive conversations about race, class, gender, and sexual orientation are paramount to our comprehensive program.
Each student learns differently and has unique interests and needs - personalizing education is key. To ensure that every child is deeply known and receives 1:1 academic and lifeskills mentorship, we limit our class sizes to 7-10 students.
Because we aren't limited to a traditional classroom, we can visit professionals, experts, and influential thinkers in their natural habitats. Whether that means driving to Sacramento to sit in on federal court sessions or walking down the street to watch a local print-maker in action, we learn more by visiting members of our community in their offices, workshops and labs, not reading about them or bringing them into our classroom.