Odyssey’s Curriculum: Project Based Learning

Odyssey’s curriculum is based on Project Based Learning, a student-centered pedagogy that involves a dynamic classroom approach in which it is believed that students acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems. Each grade has a theme, or a “driving question,” that students tackle throughout the summer. It is a style of active learning and inquiry-based learning.

Examples of the themes and questions from this past summer are summarized below. 

 

Elementary School Curriculum

  • Scroll below for the Middle School and High School curriculums.

Ocean Commotion

Driving Question: How does an understanding of the Earth’s oceans affect the behavior of human interaction?

Concept:

Focus on the ocean’s diverse system that thrives on interdependence, predictable patterns and life cycles. Students, through research based strategies, will engage in higher order critical thinking as they discover the basics of the world’s five major oceans. Students will be able to explain how living things contribute to an ocean ecosystem. Students will also get to experience science exploration and build on their knowledge of numbers and math.

Topics:

  • Determine where in the ocean animals live and what attributes in their environment helps them survive
  • Fictional literature, especially stories on ocean animals, to build vocabulary and phonics skills
  • Building stories through characters, plot, and setting
  • Graphing and problem solving- tracking scientific labs, fluency and various math skills
  • Use of manipulatives for number stories, math problem solving and graphing

Trips:

Visit the GA Aquarium and Chattahoochee Nature Center

Public Product:

Students will create and build their own ocean animal and the habitat best suited for it.

Stories of Our Land

Driving Question: How can we, similar to the Native Americans of Georgia, use the land to help our community?

Concept:

Focus on the connection of plants and the plant life cycle to the Native American cultures of Georgia by planting and caring for garden beds of fruits and vegetables. Students will speak with experts in the field to further enhance their understanding of the topics. Students will experience science exploration and build on their knowledge of numbers and math.

Topics:

  • Non-fictional texts about Native American culture to understand how to navigate and comprehend the content
  • Building stories through characters, plot, and setting
  • Graphing and problem solving- tracking scientific labs, fluency and various math skills
  • Use of manipulatives for number stories, math problem solving and graphing
  • Creation of art and writing to exhibit learning
  • Working as a team to create and care for our garden beds

Trips:

Visit the Blue Heron Nature Preserve and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Public Product:

Students will work as a team to create and care for our garden beds.

 

Living to 100: Healthy Habits

Driving Question: What does it mean to be healthy?

Concept:

Focus on health and exercise to help sharpen the mind! Students will learn about ways to be healthy. This will include: nutrition, exercise, sleep, emotional wellness, environmental wellness, etc. Students will hear from trainers, doctors and nutritionists and attend various field trips related to exercise and nutrition.

Topics:

  • Powerpoint presentations and animation
  • The Food Pyramid
  • Graphing and measurement
  • Informational and expository writing Poetry
  • Creating and producing a film related to “Living to 100” using learned technology, writing and research skills
  • Understanding stories through characters, plot, setting, lessons and morals

Trips:

Visit the High Museum of Art and Chattahoochee Nature Center

Public Product:

Students will decide upon a topic of health then write and produce a film to share what they have learned.

The Government and Me

Driving Question: How does the government impact me?

Concept:

Focus on government and election system. Students will participate in a mock election to understand the election process.  They will nominate candidates, create positive and negative ad campaigns for their candidates. Small groups will represent different special interest groups and the candidates must win support for the special interest groups based on their understanding of the needs of the people.

Topics:

  • Conduct research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic
  • Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons
  • Work as a team to overcome obstacles and challenges in diverse settings
  • Challenges faced by the new nation
  • Branches of the U. S. government
  • Narrative writing
  • Public Speaking, Budgeting, data analysis, Fund raising in regard to government and campaigns

Trips:

Visit the Georgia Capitol museum and National Center for Civil and Human rights.

Public Product:

Students will nominate candidates and run campaigns as they participate in a mock election.

The World as a Village

Driving Question: If the world were a village, how would human rights be respected, but compromised?

Concept:

Focus on needs of people, based upon their culture, heritage and human rights. Students will create a 3D global village, buildings built for each nationality will have to be sized according to the population of that nationality. Students will present to the United Nations delegate for the Global Village for final approval while competing with other architects and designers.

Topics:

  • How have issues in the past affected our rights and responsibilities as citizens today?
  • Using math skills to calculate distance, area and perimeter
  • Using charts to show population data
  • Informational and persuasive writing
  • Powerpoint presentations and animation
  • Discussion based learning
  • Speech writing

Trips:

Visit the Georgia Capitol museum and National Center for Civil and Human rights.

Public Product:

Students will work as a team to develop, design and layout a 3D model for a new global village.

Middle School Curriculum

The Community and Me

Driving Question: What are the key elements of community, public services, environment, and my place in society and my social responsibilities?

Concept:

Focus on key elements of community, public services, environment, and their place in society and their social responsibility. Students will use the ideas of system, model, change, and scale in exploring scientific and technological matters.

Topics:

  • Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence
  • Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions
  • Use ratio and rate reasoning to solve real-world and mathematical problems utilizing strategies
  • Understand and describe how writing for scientific purposes is different than writing for literary purposes
  • Analyze the role of the different branches in Georgia state government
  • Students will identify and evaluate public problems in their individual neighborhoods and create solutions

Trips:

Visit the High Museum of Art, World of Coke, CNN Center, Oakland Cemetery, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the Atlanta History Center.

Public Product:

Students  will present their pitch/presentation/product/psa to government council.

Odyssey Undercover

Driving Question: How does the criminal justice system impact our community?

Concept:

Focus on discovery while learning to interview and debate, as well as the science behind fingerprinting, DNA, and crime scene investigation. Students will be presented with a crime scene and are tasked with deciphering the mystery behind it. As a final project, students participate in a final mock trial. In addition to the final project, students will create PSAs to inform others about the issues and topics we are learning about.

Topics:

  • Learn how to debate as students attempt to discover the mystery behind the crime
  • Use science skills and forensics to do fingerprinting and DNA analysis
  • Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish opinion pieces
  • Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks
  • Investigate the features of the process of scientific inquiry
  • Demonstrate employability skills required by business and industry
  • Demonstrate creativity and exhibit critical thinking and problem solving skills to solve problems
  • Working as a team

Trips:

Visit the Georgia Bar Museum, Emory Genetics Lab, Georgia Capital, Historic 4th Ward,  Dekalb County Courthouse,  Southern Poverty Law Center and Chamblee Municipal Court.

Public Product:

Students will participate in a final mock trial at Chamblee Municipal Court.

 

Odyssey Entrepreneurs

Driving Question: How do I become my own boss?

Concept:

Focus on responsibility and business plans.  Students will create a viable business plan based on interviews from current and past business owners and research of the current market. Students will persuade current business owners to invest in their business through our “Shark Tank” activity, Real life entrepreneurs (“sharks”) will preview student businesses, and choose 5 overall to invest in.

Topics:

  • Create a market to sell goods
  • Create an Economic Portfolio that includes research on a company, “purchase” stock, and chart activity
  • Participate in mock interviews to enhance public speaking skills
  • Learn how to play chess
  • Students will conduct focus groups

Trips:

Visit the Junior Achievement Discovery Center, WSB Studios, Atlanta Food Bank, and the Federal Reserve.

Public Product:

Students will pitch their business in a “Shark Tank” activity with a completed business plan, an advertising plan, and knowledge of economics.

 

High School Curriculum

Community Builders

Driving Question:  What are the characteristics of a good community?  Why?

Concept:

Focus on developing the ideal neighborhood. Students tour different neighborhoods in Atlanta before starting their projects. Students will compare characteristics of each neighborhoods, as they reflect and design a better community. They will measure and compare food availability in different neighborhoods, and understand how different communities were developed.

Topics:

  • Persuasive writing
  • Public speaking
  • Critical thinking
  • Write letters to influential people in student’s immediate community about an issue that they believe needs to be addressed
  • Coding
  • Filming
  • Odyssey Score: PSAT verbal, math, and writing

Trips:

Visit Neighborhoods around Atlanta, Dekalb Farmers Market, Sevananda, Clark Atlanta University,  Georgia Gwinnett College, International Rescue Committee, East Lake Foundation, Ponce City, Market Beltline, and the Escape Room.

Public Product:

Students will create a  physical model, a digital Sim City (with necessities such as zoning, power and water), and an oral presentation of their ideal community to present.

 

Hidden Figures

Driving Question:  With the technology and resources that are available today, how could the John Glenn launch be modified and still be successful?

Concept:

Focus on the Civil Rights Movement. The student will describe and assess the impact of political developments between 1945 and 1970. They will analyze the impact of social change movements and organizations of the 1960s. Students will investigate the relationship between motor rotation and robot rotation. By programming the robot to rotate, students will be able to validate the amount of motor rotation required to produce robot rotation.

Topics:

  • Investigate and discover personal relationship to community, culture, and world through making and studying art.
  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
  • Self Management
  • Read and analyze the novel Hidden Figures
  • Expand their vocabulary with selected pre-SAT words
  • Compare & contrast the “Hidden Figures” story to actual political/social climate of that era
  • Robotics
  • Odyssey Score: PSAT verbal, math, and writing

Trips:

Visit the Tellus Science Museum, Oglethorpe, Kennesaw State University, Georgia Tech, and Skyzone.

Public Product:

Students will re-create the John Glenn Launch through solving for the mathematics that is needed for the successful launch as well as creating models of the rockets.

A Matter of Taste: Analyzing the Social Impact of the Industrial Food Complex on Teens

Photo by Ben Rose (www.BenRosePhotography.com)

Driving Question: How does the industrial food complex affect the physical, emotional, and social lives of teens?

Concept:

Focus on various elements of the industrial food complex which would entail analyzing passages from literary. Students will also use mathematical concepts such as statistical analysis of food related surveys to better understand data analysis and some forms of food composition.

Topics:

  • Local college visits
  • Odyssey Score: PSAT verbal, math, and writing
  • One-on-one meetings with college counselors
  • SAT and creative writing
  • Write narratives to develop real events using effective technique
  • Make strategic use of digital media in presentations to enhance findings
  • Creatively communicate a message across multiple broadcast digital platforms
  • Understanding of Agricultural Engineering (dehydration, preservatives, food behavior)

Trips:

Atlanta Community Food Bank, AMC movies, and Savannah College trip.

Public Product:

Students through engineering skills will design and build a solar food dehydrator. Students will also creatively communicate a message with clarity and purpose using audio/visual tools and delivering it across multiple broadcast digital platforms.

Odyssey University

Driving Question:  How do you generate, revise, and polish a meaningful college essay that communicates your story most effectively?

Concept:

Focus on the college application process. Students participate in a two-day out-of-state college trip, local college visits, SAT prep, meetings with college counselors, and college admissions essay writing. Graduates will hone their skills for admissions success and be prepared once they arrive on their college campuses. Students will  understand how paying for college with loans will impact life after graduation.

Topics:

  • Utilize software to identify colleges of interest
  • Learn the ins and outs of the Financial Aid process
  • College admissions essays
  • ACT verbal, math, and writing
  • Admissions interview role play
  • Multiple one-on-one meetings with Odyssey’s college counselors
  • Estimate the real cost of attending a college
  • Ted Talks
  • Free write

Trips:

Visit Morehouse College, Spelman College, and University of Georgia, as well as a two-night/ three-day tour of seven other colleges in Tennessee.

Public Product:

Students will work on a final draft of the Common College Application and College Essays.