Odyssey's Ten Essentials
1. Team Teaching
- When teachers collaborate, students receive many benefits.
- Two or more teachers working together create the opportunity to pool personal and instructional resources.
- Increases creativity and ability to meet the needs of individual students.
- Allows students to be in flexible groups and teams for art, math, literature and many components of their day.
- Teachers flow between groups, too, allowing them to teach to their strengths.
2. Multi-age Classrooms
- Blended grade levels allow students to progress at their unique developmental rate.
- Student developmental rates are often very different than their chronological rate.
- For math, reading and literature, students are placed in groups according to their assessed needs.
- For all other subjects, students work in mixed-age teams, which include both older and younger students at a variety of academic levels.
3. Cooperative Learning
- Research shows that cooperation is more effective than competition in improving academic achievement.
- Provides the opportunity for older students to learn and practice leadership helping younger children who look up to them.
- Students benefit from:
- Constructing knowledge together as a team.
- Contributing at their unique level.
- Leading in their areas of strength.
- Receiving assistance in areas where they are less confident.
- Non-threatening environment supports problem solving, and effective communication and collaboration.
4. Community Support
- Odyssey welcomes and encourages parent and community involvement in many ways both during and outside of the school day.
- Teachers, students, and families join together to foster learning, creating a community school.
- Parents participate in the way each chooses—everyone is needed and valued.
- This approach creates a strong and engaged learning community.
- Parents connect to what their children are experiencing.
- Dedicated community support helps teachers achieve their educational goals.
- All students feel supported by a group of adults who care about them.
5. Differentiated Instruction
- To meet all the needs of a diverse student population, The Odyssey Program differentiates instruction.
- Individual students learn in a wide variety of ways and have different interests.
- Instructions reaches out to students unique learning styles, interests, readiness, and needs in order to create the best learning environment possible.
- All learning is designed to use scaffolding activities, engaging students’ areas of strength (i.e., visual, auditory, kinesthetic) and moving them to mastery of areas of need.
6. Open-Ended Curriculum
- Our learning format has no bottom or top.
- Curriculum fosters the development of creative and critical thinking skills in all subject areas.
- Students at all academic levels experience much growth during the school year.
- Gifted students are challenged, while those needing to master the basics are supported toward success.
- Curriculum helps students view learning as an ongoing, life-long process.
- All students are encouraged to deepen their learning through extensions.
7. Theme-Based Learning
- The Odyssey Program is based on integrated curriculum and enrichment
- Centered around historical themes based on Oregon learning benchmarks.
- Prominent American educator Dr. Mary Beth Klee argues that, "For too many years we have undershot with America’s elementary school children.
- "They come to us with their fresh minds, their keen curiosity, their enthusiasm for learning, and for far too long we have served up pabulum.
- "They come to us longing to connect with the broader world, the world they do not know, but hunger to know."
- In our program, we strive to satisfy this "hunger."
- Hands-on learning activities meet the needs of a wide range of students and appeal to their specific interests.
- Art, writing, science, language arts, and social studies are integrated into the curriculum for each unit.
- Singing, dancing, and drama are emphasized in a culmination performance for each unit.
- Extended field studies culminate learning each year in grades 3-8.
9. Integrated Curriculum
- Education is more effective when students know why they are learning something, and are offered a context for new information.
- Studying rivers, mountains, and rock formations becomes much more meaningful when a child also learns how this topography affected Lewis and Clark’s expedition, or the lifestyles of the Northwest Indian tribes.
- Integrated study at The Odyssey Program mean that subjects will naturally flow together.
- Students won’t have to stop thinking about science and start thinking about spelling just because a bell has rung.
- Students might not realize what "subject" they learned on a particular day, but will be able to describe a wealth of knowledge gained and tell a fascinating story of why it is important.
10. Interactive Learning
- In this educational model, no child is a passive learner.
- During each unit of study, students take on the identities and lifestyles of persons from the theme period,
- Students wear the clothes, learn the music, collect the artifacts, and engage in interactive simulation activities where learning comes alive.
- This approach appeals to the imagination of every child.
- Learning is never isolated and abstract, but always meaningful and exciting.
Odyssey's Ten Essentials Print Handout (PDF)
For a print version of the Odyssey Ten Essentials
Article on Team Teaching (Word .doc)
For more information about Team Teaching by Jerry Rother
Article on Multi Aged Classrooms (Word .doc)
For more information about multi aged classrooms by Susan Anderson, Marion Grassley and Alan Damon, and John Goodlad