In keeping with our philosophy of IB+Dirt VVS offers a bold experiment in experiential learning: Decembermester. What was once an awkward period on our calendar – the time between Thanksgiving break and Winter break and just after field trips – is now a highly anticipated time of collaborative, throw-the-regular-schedule-out-the-window, kinesthetic learning designed to support off-campus trips and large-scale projects.
Projects are unique and varied, reflecting the talents and interests of teachers and their students. English students complete a children’s literature unit culminating in a field trip to nearby Big Park Community School to read to elementary-aged children. In chemistry, students build ”Spud Guns” and launch potatoes across campus, collecting data on which types of fuel are most effective. Anthropological field studies are undertaken at nearby Sinagua cultural sites, and even at the mall. In Physical Science, students learn about elasticity, gravity and mass—then used their scientific skills in a competition to “bungee jump” Barbie dolls from great heights. Environmental systems and societies classes take a deep look at human water usage and water rights. At Casino Night, math students calculate odds; others utilized business math to form their own cookie companies. Spanish students write and film travel videos. In the arts, IB theater students perform their fall production and the photography darkroom is turned into an antique processing lab, where students create unique portraits of one another using an old fashioned view camera and antique “blueprint” process.
Theater & Music
This list only scratches the surface of the many rich, creative happenings on campus during Decembermester. In every class, students are engaged in meaningful and active learning experiences that extended beyond what is possible during the regular academic day. Opportunities to perform experiments from start to finish, go deeper into student-led discussions, and make connections with surrounding communities are among the many successes of the Decembermester experience.