Educational Program

AHB students experience hands-on, meaningful, project-based instruction in reading, writing, science, social studies/history, and mathematics.  Our relatively small, mixed-age class sizes and low student:teacher ratios (generally 12 -18 students per class with 2 -3 teachers) provide the opportunity for increased interaction between teachers and students.  This allows teachers to better meet a range of academic needs and to facilitate in-depth, interactive learning.

Though we do not use standardized tests or textbooks (except as resources for our teachers), AHB does use established academic objectives in math and language arts (meeting and exceeding the standards set forth by National Common Core Standards.)  For science and social studies/history instruction, however, we do not follow the Common Core.  Our goal in these subjects is to expose kids to major concepts and timelines.  At AHB, rather than having children memorize and regurgitate information, our teachers work together to find/create projects that require the use of specific academic skills.  For example, teams of 4th - 6th graders recently created model roller coasters which were submitted to a Six Flags contest.  This project required students to learn about force, motion, gravity, measurement, etc.  Having to create brochures for their roller coasters resulted in concentration on persuasive writing, formatting, and graphic art.  Oral presentation skills became essential as the students prepared for "Projects on Parade" (an AHB event at which kids displayed the past semester's projects.)  In experiences such as these, learning comes as a result of a student's enthusiasm and desire to be a part of the application of new knowledge and skills as opposed to memorization without perceived purpose.  Students come away with true understanding of concepts, as well as other vital practice with skills such as teamwork, conflict negotiation, project planning, etc.

There are certainly things that don't fit into a current project, that call for additional practice, or which require memorization (such as math facts.)  For this reason, we balance mixed-ability "project time" with ability grouping for specific skill instruction in math, spelling (word wall), and reading.  We also provide homework (between 1 and 6 hours per week, depending on the class) which reinforces important concepts learned at school.