ISB students spelling out Future Academy acronymMiddle School
Futures Academy

ISB MS Futures Academy

The ISB Futures Academy is an educational model designed to inspire creativity, develop problem-solving skills and effective communication, and encourage flexibility and cooperation. The model facilitates learning opportunities and experiences that cultivate these transferable skills and aims to empower students to take ownership of their learning. ISB MS Futures Academy includes students from Grades 7 and 8, and in 2016-17 will expand to our High School to include students from Grade 9.

The same standards, knowledge and L21 skills will be expected for all students. The MS Futures Academy provides an alternative approach to those goals, connecting the learning more explicitly to the passions and interests of individual students. The long-term goal is that these learning opportunities will become available for all ISB students as our Strategic Plan is implemented.


Connecting Students to their Passions

We believe in encouraging students to pursue their interests in order to engage them in their learning. Students who are more connected to their learning gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter and have a greater ability to retain and apply knowledge.

The MS Futures Academy is distinguished by its approach to teaching and learning. MS Futures Academy students gain understanding through learning experiences and develop their skill base by creating projects. Using a project-based learning framework enables students to generate ideas, plan, design, fine-tune, present and reflect on their work. Guided by essential questions, students create and refine projects that connect their personal passions to real-world pursuits. Through fieldwork, internships, off-campus site visits and the development of key partnerships, students in the MS Futures Academy gain an understanding of how the world works beyond the school. MS Futures Academy facilitators offer resources and engineer external partnerships to facilitate this experience.

Student Experiences

ISB believes that students should engage in various types of learning experiences. MS Futures Academy student experiences include classroom learning, project-based learning, experiential learning opportunities, fieldwork in local communities and online collaboration with experts and professionals, such as architects, artists, musicians and engineers. Each student's experience within the MS Futures Academy is dependent upon the scope of the project-based learning opportunity, the availability of the guest experts and professionals, and the student's learning schedule. Students meet regularly with their facilitators to ensure that learning is rich in authenticity and academic content. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Connecting Student to their Passions

We believe in encouraging students to pursue their interests in order to engage them in their learning. Students who are more connected to their learning gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter and have a greater ability to retain and apply knowledge.

The MS Futures Academy is distinguished by its approach to teaching and learning. MS Futures Academy students gain understanding through learning experiences and develop their skill base by creating projects. Using a project-based learning framework enables students to generate ideas, plan, design, fine-tune, present and reflect on their work. Guided by essential questions, students create and refine projects that connect their personal passions to real-world pursuits. Through fieldwork, internships, off-campus site visits and the development of key partnerships, students in the MS Futures Academy gain an understanding of how the world works beyond the school. MS Futures Academy facilitators offer resources and engineer external partnerships to facilitate this experience.

Student Experiences

ISB believes that students should engage in various types of learning experiences. MS Futures Academy student experiences include classroom learning, project-based learning, experiential learning opportunities, fieldwork in local communities and online collaboration with experts and professionals, such as architects, artists, musicians and engineers. Each student's experience within the MS Futures Academy is dependent upon the scope of the project-based learning opportunity, the availability of the guest experts and professionals, and the student's learning schedule. Students meet regularly with their facilitators to ensure that learning is rich in authenticity and academic content.

Flexible Scheduling and Space

Student schedules within the MS Futures Academy reflect our focus on individualized learning. Flexible timetables throughout the week permit the facilitator and student to discuss student progress, the focus of the learning, and the allocation of time for the current week and the upcoming weeks. Students are expected to design and revise their schedules in collaboration with their facilitator and to share their weekly schedules with their parents. Ongoing check-ins, critiques and assessments ensure students are meeting identified goals and deadlines in a timely fashion.

Within the MS Futures Academy model, humanities, mathematics, science and Chinese are integrated rather than treated as stand-alone disciplines. This educational model uses project-based learning to integrate subject matter. Projects are structured around an "essential question" based on real-world issues. These "essential questions" are designed to cover a range of disciplines and require a wide variety of skills to answer.

MS Futures Academy students learn in a flexible learning space that promotes both group and independent learning. There are no rows of desks you might associate with a traditional classroom. Rather, students learn in small groups to maximize communication and collaboration. Students are not confined to a designated seat or desk, allowing them to engage more freely and discover new learning possibilities. Students flow from one station to another with purpose, direction and motivation.

The MS Futures Academy's flexible learning space gives students an ergonomic and comfortable environment that empowers students with the idea of "bodies in motion" complements "brains in motion."

How do MS Futures Academy facilitators ensure that all necessary academic content is covered by students?

MS Futures Academy facilitators design learning experiences to provide the natural and logical acquisition of content within the project experience. When academic content is best delivered outside the scope of a project, the content is taught explicitly by the appropriate facilitator or acquired through online resources during skill-building blocks, or periods of time built into the students' flexible schedules. Skill-building blocks allow for differentiated teaching opportunities, allowing individual students to extend learning or acquire new skills. Facilitators can also re-teach content based on each learner's needs during these blocks.

Are MS Futures Academy students included as a part of the Middle School, particularly regarding co-curricular activities?

MS Futures Academy students are part of our Middle School and have opportunities to integrate and interact with their peers. These opportunities include enrichments where students can sign up for courses according to their interests, lunchtime when students are on campus, After School Activities and co-curricular programs, as well as participating in grade-level team mentoring trips. These activities are built into each student's flexible schedule.

How do MS Futures Academy students participate in specialist lessons, such as art, music and PE?

MS Futures Academy facilitators guide students in the inclusion of specialist subjects, such as art, music and PE, in the development of their project-based learning experiences. In addition, MS Futures Academy students can continue to experience art, music and physical activity through enrichments, After School Activities and co-curricular programs as a part of their flexible schedule.

How do MS Futures Academy students maintain and/or develop their home-country language?

The flexible schedule for MS Futures Academy students allocates time to maintain and/or develop their home-country language during the Language Development block. This language time is designed to collaborate with a chosen tutor and/or utilize personalized digital resources for language acquisition.

Are students able to transfer to other schools if they have been involved in the ISB Futures Academy? Can a student who participates in the ISB Futures Academy choose to leave the academy but stay at ISB?

The MS Futures Academy represents the implementation of initiatives in the school's Strategic Plan. It encompasses the same standards (knowledge), the same curriculum framework (L21) and the same student learning expectations applied to all students in all grades. Therefore, students can join or opt out of the MS Futures Academy on an annual basis. However, students are not encouraged to move in and out of this education model as the maximum benefit from the academy is the cumulative experiences for students.

If a student remaining at ISB chooses to no longer participate in the ISB Futures Academy at the end of an academic year, they can continue as an ISB student and be placed in the same grade level as they would have been placed within the ISB Futures Academy. In addition, ISB Futures Academy reporting includes both academic standards based on grading and learning shared through a portfolio. This relates to L21 skills and social and emotional learning, providing the progress reporting necessary to transition to another school.

  • 10 An Hua Street, Shunyi District, Beijing 101318, PRC
  • 中国 北京市 顺义区安华街10号, 邮编:101318
  • +86(10)81492345
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