A Parent’s Guide to Independent Study 2017

As of this week, your 7th or 8th grader will begin deciding on their topic for their biggest project of the year: Independent Study, or IS.

IS is a multi-part, long-term project that the students will be working on until the end of the school year. During this time, they will be conducting in-depth research on a specific topic of their choosing. The Revolution Project, completed in the fall, can be considered a “mini-IS”, but this upcoming project is a bit more complex.

Independent Study project components:

  1. Learning something new
  2. Extensive research
  3. Working with a mentor outside of school
  4. Writing a paper
  5. Creating a scrapbook/log
  6. Creating a presentation (white) board
  7. Doing a presentation/ speech
  8. And more!

Topics chosen by students over the years have been as diverse as welding, Japanese language, building a bike, basket weaving, banjo… far too many to enumerate here. What is always consistent, no matter the topic, is that the student is given many opportunities for taking their learning experience into their own hands. From finding books at the library to their final presentation, it is truly an independent study.

However, every independent adolescent needs a few capable adults to “help them do it alone.” Gregg and I will be responsible for frequent check ins and evaluations of the students’ work, as well as guiding them through the different components of IS.

Your child will need your help when finding a mentor and a place to study. They’ll be working on the IS Plans & Goals doc this week/weekend, and will ask you to sign their IS Parent Contract (due Monday, February 6).

The role of the mentor is unique to the IS project (further information about this here). For most students, their mentor teaches lessons or classes related to their IS topic. This is not a necessity, however; the main purpose of the mentor is to work with an expert on the topic, and to have weekly contact with that person.

Please talk to your child if you have more questions about IS (and if all else fails, feel free to email me with questions too!).

I’m looking forward to an exciting, productive, creative few months working with the students on IS!

Best wishes,