ISB Futures Academy
ISB Futures Academy (ISBFA) 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.
Connecting Students to their Interests
We believe in encouraging students to pursue their interests and passions to facilitate their deeper engagement with 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.
ISB believes that students should engage in various types of learning experiences. ISB Futures Academy student experiences include classroom learning, project-based learning, design projects, 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 ISB 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.
Middle School Futures Academy (MSFA)
Students in MS Futures Academy gain understanding through integrated, multidisciplinary learning experiences that are designed and guided by ISB Futures Academy facilitators. In the middle school, the subject areas regularly integrated are English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science. Additionally, in MS Futures Academy some projects also integrate Design, Math, Art, Music and/or Drama when relevant.
Drawing from a variety of frameworks, including project-based learning and design thinking, facilitators engineer learning opportunities that enable students to generate ideas, plan, design, fine-tune, present, and reflect on their work. Within the scope of a project, students have ample opportunities for voice and choice, to express their interests and communicate their findings in a way that is engaging and meaningful to them.
High School Futures Academy (HSFA)
Students in HS Futures Academy also gain understanding through an integrated model, specifically Science, English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Design. This cross-disciplinary approach streamlines learning by allowing students to apply skills developed in one subject area, to work completed in another.
Students in the program gain understanding through learning experiences and develop their skill base through the creation of their own projects. 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, HS Futures Academy students gain an understanding of how the world works beyond the school. HS Futures Academy facilitators offer resources and engineer external partnerships to facilitate this experience.
The course includes three types of work:
- Individual Projects: driven and created from students’ personal interests.
- Class Projects: initiated by students or facilitators to develop collaboration skills and ensure deeper coverage of standards that may not be included in individual projects.
- Class/individual work: for work that does not fit into either Individual or class projects, but needs to be covered to prepare students for IB/AP/higher level courses.
Frequently Asked Questions
In the middle school, ISB Futures Academy is designed to engage students in projects that integrate different subject areas in a meaningful way. Facilitators design projects that mirror real-world dilemmas and offer opportunities to:
- address real world issues (e.g. Capstone project)
- work in the field
- work with experts
- gain independence through gradual release; for example, the level of voice and choice increases from grade 7 to 8 to allow more independence
- students are challenged to grow as independent learners, while also developing skills and capacity in L21 areas
- pursue passions and interests through three 'Ignite'* experience weeks
- be a member of great community
*Ignite weeks – 3 times per year, off schedule. Combined grade 7 and 8 (6-7 project choices per theme week. Themes: Make It, Express It, Personalize It
In high school, ISB Futures Academy is a program designed to allow students to explore their areas of interest, integrate their subjects, and develop individual and group projects to answer challenging questions. The program allows students to access all of the same standards of the ISB Program classes, while giving them the time and space to develop their own passions in those areas. The origins of this program are grounded in giving students a unique opportunity in high school, that will differentiate them when thinking about career paths and applying to universities. Students will have a rich and self-directed experience in grades 9 and 10 that will help them focus their educational pursuits through grades 11 and 12.
In middle school, students have a facilitator-designed, flexible schedule that is tailored to the needs of each project. A key component of the middle school schedule is the integrated project block, in which students complete learning objectives from Humanities, Science, and sometimes Design Technology and Math, to help them understand the essential question of the project.
Aside from integrated work time, students in MS Futures Academy also have some discrete academic blocks in their schedule to ensure all standards are being met. Specifically, students have Math class every other day, just like students in the ISB program. At times, other blocks are also used for additional Humanities instructional time. During some projects, students have a flex-block so they can start to gain skills around setting their own work goals for a segment of time.
For some projects, students in MS Futures Academy will be offered an art, music, or drama block within their FA schedule as another integration lens for their project work.
Students in MS Futures Academy attend PE, World Languages, and Enrichment blocks outside of FA to join other middle school students at ISB.
In high school, students will study English, Social Studies, Science and Design Technology in the HSFA. Courses are integrated when possible and are taught as standalone subjects where needed. Students take part in the HSFA every other day of their high school schedule. Students will take Physical Education, Math, World Language, and an elective on their non-HSFA days.
MS Futures Academy students are part of our middle school and have many 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.
HS Futures Academy students also have many opportunities to integrate and interact with peers:
- High School Mentoring program – join other students outside of ISBFA
- “Non FA” schedule day – four other courses outside of ISBFA
- Experiential Learning Opportunities (ELO), After School Activities, etc.
Students in ISB Futures Academy acquire the same knowledge and skills to meet the same standards for learning as their peers in the ISB program. However, the ISBFA program alters the timing and pacing of when standards are addressed, to best fit the aims of the program.
In middle school, facilitators design learning experiences to provide a 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.
In high school, facilitators work with students to direct their own projects and align their interests and questions to a variety of standards. When needed, facilitators will also initiate some class projects or other coursework to ensure that key requirements are met throughout the year.
Do ISBFA students participate in specialist classes? In particular, World Languages, Physical
Do ISBFA students participate in specialist classes? In particular, World Languages, Physical Education, Art, Music etc.?
Yes - in middle school, students enroll with the broader ISB middle school community for physical education classes, world languages, and enrichments.
Facilitators develop projects to include specialist subjects, such as design, art, and music in an integrated manner. ISB Futures Academy students also have a very unique experience - the three 'Ignite' weeks, which due to each theme, bring in various expertise to offer a range of project choices for each week.
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.
Yes - in high school, students enroll in their world language, PE, math, and elective classes on their non-FA day.
In middle school, ISB Futures Academy students have a targeted math block every other day. Additionally, in some projects, math is integrated into their work.
The amount of math offered in ISBFA is the same amount of instructional time as the ISB program. Furthermore, students in grade 8 Futures Academy are offered both math streams – Math 8 and Algebra – the same as the ISB program.
In high school, ISB Futures Academy students take their math course outside of FA, on their non-FA schedule day.
In middle school, students are assessed against the grades 7-8 ISB curriculum standards that apply to their projects. The MS Futures Academy model embraces a coaching model, and values constant feedback to ensure students meet the standards. In addition, L21 is of special significance in the MS Futures Academy program and therefore is also reported on at the end of each project. Lastly, MS Futures Academy believes in comprehensive reporting at the end of each project, with both student and facilitator comments.
In high school, students are assessed against the grades 9-10 ISB curriculum standards that apply to their individual and class projects. Students can resubmit work against the relevant standards, should they wish to. Grades earned in the HSFA are equivalent to those in the ISB program. HSFA students' transcripts sent to colleges, will reflect the same courses as their peers from the ISB program.
ISB 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 ISB 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 students do not enroll in the whole four-year program, we recommend that students pursue ISB Futures Academy for at least a two-year duration, in either grades 7 and 8 or 9 and 10.
Students who transfer from ISB to another school, regardless of program choice (FA vs. Non-FA), will be able to transfer to other schools due to similarities in reporting and transcripts between all programs of study at ISB.
In MSFA, students receive a report card that is very similar to the middle school ISB community. It reports out on different courses separately (Math, Science, Humanities) and can be easily used when applying for other schools.
In HSFA, students earn the same credits based on course work as those in the ISB program, therefore their transcript from FA vs. Non-FA are almost identical.
Because the HSFA allows students to access all of the same standards as ISB classes, students will be prepared for the content of the IB program. In addition, HSFA students are given more responsibility for their own learning, which will help with the self-discipline required for the IB program.
HSFA students' transcripts and grades are recorded in exactly the same manner as those for non-FA ISB students. A HSFA student's GPA is calculated based on their grades. The clear difference lies in the experience an HSFA student has achieving their grades. This experience can make personal statements to universities more vivid and engaging, as reflected by their learning pursuits over two years in the HSFA.
If a HSFA student transfers to another school, their transcript will show that they covered the same courses and obtained credit the same way as students in the ISB program.