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
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
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
- 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
- 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
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.