Experiential Education

So What is Experiential Education at CCS anyway?  

Experiential education at CCS is a process of teaching and learning which engages students through thoughtfully designed direct experience and focused reflection. Experiential education allows students to explore and discover, engaging them intellectually, emotionally, socially, soulfully, and or physically. Students learn to take initiative, make choices, challenge their personal limitations, and be accountable in a way that inspires their sense of wonder, desire to learn, and to contribute to their community. The educator recognizes and encourages spontaneous opportunities for learning by setting suitable experiences, posing problems, setting boundaries, and facilitating the learning process within the framework of the state standards, mission statement, and ends policies.

Non-Graded System

Non-Graded Instruction
Individual Learning Plans, Assessment, and Enhanced Transcripts
Instruction at CCS and the work children do is based on the Ends Policies set out for us by the Governing Council. The accomplishment of these Ends requires success in a large number of projects and lessons over many years. Our students also learn a sense of inner drive and self-evaluation throughout their time at CCS. The practice of giving students grades would disarm the development of the process. The teacher’s role is to help students learn how to know when things are completed, how to judge the quality of their work, and to validate when student self assessment is accurate.

At CCS, we still do give feedback and use a number of evaluation methods to help students and parents to understand how they are doing in school. We participate in school-wide annual standardized tests, including:

CSAP (Colorado State Assessment Program)
NWEA (The Northwest Evaluation Association)
Explore and Plan Academic Assessment tests
ACT college entrance exam
DIBELS Reading Assessments grades K-3

At the beginning of the school year, following an initial assessment period of approximately 5-6 weeks, students, parents and teachers will meet to map an Individual Learning Plan for each student. The plan will include specific academic goals based on previously acquired test data, or if this is not available for a new student entering the program, the initial five-week in-class assessment period will allow the teacher the chance to conduct assessments and help guide the student towards significant, achievable goals for the remainder of the semester.
In-class tests, projects and student work will develop a body of evidence that supports student achievement towards their specific goals. If a student is not making progress towards goals in their learning plan, teachers will change the learning plan in consultation with the student. At the end of each semester, teachers will discuss with parents and students at their conference, the progress the student is making toward the accomplishment of his/her goals, and refine the Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) for the next semester. A written record of this conference is made and kept in the student’s records. These written records constitute a student’s enhanced transcript which is routinely accepted by other schools and by colleges.

Multi-Aged Classrooms

Multi-Aged classrooms
The Crestone Charter School is set up in multi-age classroom cultures. Some of the reasons for doing this are:
Children learn from each other regardless of age.
Intellectual abilities grow at different rates depending on subject area and are not necessarily linked to age. For example, a ten-year-old child might be reading very advanced literature and doing mathematics with much younger children.
Multi-age classes allow more chances to find natural learning groups.
Our society exists without recognition of age except in broad ranges. It makes little sense to isolate children by age.

For all these reasons we do not refer to children as graded.
Class Comparative Grade Levels
EARLY ELEMENTARY: K-1
PRIMARY: 2-3
INTERMEDIATE: 4-6
MIDDLE SCHOOL: 6-7
8th Grade Program: 8
LINK (HIGH SCHOOL): 9-12
We seek to place a child enrolled in our school in the classroom in which they will thrive. This decision is made based on the child’s social, emotional and academic development by the teachers and parents together and can change during a school year. In cases of acceleration, a team which may include administrators, teachers, parents, student, and other professional personnel are used to evaluate a student’s academic, social, and emotional needs. The Iowa Acceleration Scale may also be consulted in order to bring less subjectivity to the matter. But in the end, the final decision for acceleration will always rest with the professional judgment of the teachers.