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Curriculum

NEIA’s curriculum offers a holistic approach to learning, one that balances and enriches interdisciplinary learning through integrated projects, exciting problem solving, active student engagement, and coaching from skilled instructors with disciplinary knowledge.

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Overview

Our uniquely tailored project-based program for grades 6-12 hinges on an innovative curriculum that gives students a sense of ownership, the opportunity to feel valued and heard, and to learn from real-world connections.

Innovation Studio is an immersive, hands-on, project-based learning environment where science, business, design, and ethnography are used with the human-centered design process to plan, design, create, implement, and iterate on projects resulting in cutting-edge, meaningful innovations.

Liberal Arts include the study of humanities, math, science, language, and the arts. Traditional subjects will be taught in relation to ongoing Innovation Studio projects and themes, increasing their relevance and authenticity. The connections made improve retention and deepen learning by providing more context.

Wellbeing is approached through a curriculum that addresses social-emotional learning, functional nutrition, mental health, physical health, life skills, and outdoor skills. Students are at their best and ready to learn when they are healthy, present, and engaged. Elements of wellbeing will be integrated into Innovation Studio and Liberal Arts courses.

Innovation Studio

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Innovation Studio is a substantial part of the program for students in grades 6 through 12. Students inherently have curiosity, intellect, and desire to learn. NEIA meets students with an environment that provides them with the space, the tools, the coaching, and the skills to allow them to go as far as their passion, imagination, resourcefulness, and motivation will take them. In the Innovation Studio, the human-centered design process is used to explore and develop habits of work, mind, and heart. Students will work with their hands to build projects. They will use their minds to identify the problem they are trying to solve and come to understand who those problems directly affect and why. Students will use their hearts as they step into the shoes of others with empathy to explore viewpoints that are different from their own. The sciences, the arts, business, ethnography, and design come together as students learn and apply newly gained knowledge to relevant and meaningful projects that positively impact their community.

Humanities

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Humanities explore what it means to be human through an interdisciplinary lens with a social justice mindset and context. With a focus on teaching and learning through investigations of literary, historical, artistic, cultural, and social realms, Humanities prepares Innovators to engage in a contemporary global society. Innovators connect their passions with the skills to explore, reflect, inquire and express by communicating creative and critical thought through an appreciation and understanding of diverse viewpoints.

Starting in Middle School, Innovators develop writing, reading, and public communication skills, working towards becoming proficient or advanced in each by the time they graduate. 

Writing

  • Purpose/Thesis/Claim
  • Organization
  • Evidence
  • Conventions & Language

Reading

  • Comprehension
  • Literary Analysis
  • Historical Understanding

Public Communication

  • Discussion
  • Presentation

Innovators engage in independent and collaborative work and project-based learning, emphasizing real-world application through the Innovation Studio.

Math

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At NEIA, we want Innovators to understand mathematics in abstraction and application as they develop conceptual fluency and employ real-world problem-solving strategies. We want Innovators to question and investigate mathematics while communicating their ideas through mathematical discourse and writing.

The goal of the mathematics program is to develop Innovators’ quantitative reasoning skills — understanding how math is used in the real world and applying it to make the best possible decisions. The NEIA math curriculum develops these practices through an integrated approach:

  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively
  • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
  • Model with mathematics
  • Test their models through their Innovation Studio projects
  • Use appropriate tools strategically
  • Attend to precision
  • Look for and make use of structure
  • Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

The mathematics program provides an Innovator-centered, hands-on environment to explore, invent, discuss, and debate the meaning of math. Subjects are introduced not as a collection of isolated concepts but as an ever-evolving body of interconnected knowledge. Building a sequence of experiences in a gradually enlarging spiral, teachers use problem-solving approaches to meet Innovators where they are and to develop their thinking and understanding. Innovators progress through the math sequence by “stage not age.”

Science

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Science is the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical, social, and natural worlds through observation and experimentation. Science is also key to innovation, global competitiveness, collaboration, and human advancement.

The goal of science at NEIA is to develop Innovators’ ability to ask questions, collect information, organize and test ideas, solve problems, learn from others, and then apply what they have learned to make sense of the world around them. 

Drawing on Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the NEIA science curriculum has Innovators operate at the nexus of three learning dimensions: Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas.

Science and Engineering Practices: Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Developing and using models, Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data, Using mathematics and computational thinking, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Engaging in argument from evidence, Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns, Cause and effect, Scale, proportion, and quantity, Systems and system models, Energy and matter, Structure and function, Stability and change

Disciplinary Core Ideas: Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Earth and Space Sciences

Core disciplinary ideas spiral through the curriculum with increasing depth and sophistication. The science curriculum seeks to develop Innovators’ passion for the natural and designed world and model the inquisitive, analytical, and skeptical nature of science. The curriculum includes hands-on and minds-on activities, laboratories, investigations, and design challenges and reflects the interdisciplinary nature of science.

Language

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At NEIA, we want Innovators to achieve communicative competence in the language and culture of study for real-world applications. The goal of the language program is to develop Innovators’ reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills so they can comfortably communicate their ideas in the target language, with an emphasis on spoken language and familiarity with the cultures of its speakers.  This year we will be featuring Spanish and Mandarin.

Our language curriculum is offered in partnership with Dartmouth College’s Rassias Center for World Languages and Cultures. The Rassias MethodⓇ employs a five-point philosophy that aims to break through “crusts” and communicate language and culture heart-to-heart:

  • Know Thyself: We ask our teachers and innovators to think about who they are before they step into the classroom; to explore their values, beliefs, strengths, inhibitions, and prejudices; or, more simply, their own humanity.
  • Connect: We work to assure that the material is relevant to the learners’ needs, that they can identify with it, that they are involved in the learning process and that they feel a change in themselves.
  • Special Delivery: We use carefully-designed classroom techniques to bring the language to life, allowing learners to work on their communication skills. Together, we progress systematically from repetition that will create a foundation for pronunciation, to substitution, to sentence transformation, to spontaneous use of the language to express your own creative thoughts.
  • Student as the Star of the Show: Our goal is for the innovators to feel empowered, to face errors that are a necessary part of learning, and to keep on communicating.
  • Senses and Emotions: We aspire to engage all the senses in the learning process. Deep experiential learning occurs when one invests one’s emotions in the enterprise.

Arts

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The arts and the practice of creativity make us human. The arts help us make sense of our own lives and identify with the lives of others to become empathetic. They are also a driver of innovative thinking needed to solve our world’s most pressing problems.

The goal of arts at NEIA is to encourage self-expression and creativity, develop critical thinking, and interpret the world around us.

NEIA offers performing, media, and visual arts classes during the school day and activities in the afternoons. Informed by the National Core Arts Standards, we develop these artistic practices and habits of mind:

  • Creating: Conceiving and developing new artistic ideas and work
  • Performing: Realizing artistic ideas and work through interpretation and presentation
  • Presenting (visual arts): Interpreting and sharing artistic work
  • Producing (media arts): Realizing and presenting artistic ideas and work
  • Responding: Understanding and evaluating how the arts convey meaning
  • Connecting: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context

Wellbeing

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Wellbeing is designed to support the whole person through belonging to ensure student happiness and wellness and to foster students’ social and emotional growth. NEIA innovators develop skills such as risk-taking, communication, decision making, self-awareness, collaboration, teamwork, grit, leadership, time management, and empathy as well as global and cultural competencies. As part of the learning day, students have time to focus and build their practice in the areas of mindfulness, social-emotional learning, functional nutrition, mental and physical health, life skills, and a deep connection to the natural environment.

Students will use their hearts as they step into the shoes of others with empathy to explore viewpoints that are different from their own.
MATT KRESSY, FOUNDING DIRECTOR, MITIDM

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