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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.