ACADEMICS

The school year consists of two semesters each ending with graduations. Summer school (ESY) is also provided as the majority of our students benefit from a somewhat extended school year. Students who really need to catch up are also allowed to continue monitored independent study over summer. Summer class schedule is modified to partial days for 5 weeks as this affords a degree of extended school services without interfering with increased therapeutic summer activities. Additionally, dual-enrollment college courses (subjects vary by term) are offered each regular semester for qualified students. Big Sky Academy uses a variety of vehicles for student learning with a high emphasis on learner responsibility. 

The school year consists of two semesters each ending with graduations. Summer school (ESY) is also provided as the majority of our students benefit from a somewhat extended school year. Students who really need to catch up are also allowed to continue monitored independent study over summer. Summer class schedule is modified to partial days for 5 weeks as this affords a degree of extended school services without interfering with increased therapeutic summer activities. Additionally, dual-enrollment college courses (subjects vary by term) are offered each regular semester for qualified students. Big Sky Academy uses a variety of vehicles for student learning with a high emphasis on learner responsibility. 

The curriculum is strongly assignment-driven and while lecture and testing are utilized tools, they are less emphasized, and assignment completion with mastery is the primary route to learning and ultimately course completion. We find this to be the most effective methodology with our student population, as it allows for the best combination of meaningful learning, credit recovery, developing an academic work ethic, developing academic confidence, and reversing the academic low-self image of our students. The effectiveness of this approach is evident in the high number of our students achieving high school graduation and continuing to college.

Big Sky Academy uses the following grading system:

90-100 = A; 80-89 = B; 70-79 = C; 60-69 = D; 0-59 = F

Grade point average based on a 4.0 scale by quarter credit.
Non-graded courses and credit amounts less than .25 will not be used in calculating g.p.a.

Participatory Learning Techniques and Strategies
Cooperative/Participatory Learning is viewed as a natural partner with Positive Peer Culture. The strategies involved do not dismiss individual accountability, but rather view the collaboration of small groups as a catalyst to student involvement and interest. A variety of learning activities can be used to improve subject understanding. Members of the cooperative learning team are responsible for not only mastering their subject matter, but also assisting others in achieving the same success. Students are placed in small teams whereby the initial instructions of the teacher is followed by group discussion/or projects related to the initial teacher instruction. For example, after the initial teacher instruction, each student may receive an assignment to become the “expert” on a certain portion of the teacher’s instruction and become a bit of a mentor for the others. While each member of the group is tested individually, recognition of group success should be merited. It is a four-step cycle that could be defined as teach, team study, test, and recognition.

Critical thinking skills are developed, as the student is involved in more discussion. The student becomes a greater recipient of immediate feedback. As each group member discusses various perspectives, the greater the understanding of the material. Once the group study begins, the teacher will take on a role as more of a third person/Socratic teacher. The instructor enlists questions to emphasize or re-direct where the group is going. If the group discussion seems to be straying too far from the initial teacher instruction, the teacher will note how the group may want to revisit specific information related to the subject. However, the teacher is careful  not to dominate the student interaction. 

The total average class may consist of 8-10 students with three sub-groups of student comprising the breakout teams of cooperative learning groups. While the teacher is consistently rotating among the three academic "sub-groups," the teacher will provide a class summary towards the end of the day inclusive of all students. The teacher will both summarize each sub-group's work and personally summarize what has occurred and what needs to occur to best prepare for the next day's task. We will have the students articulate, reflect, and predict on what needs to happen next, how to get there, and how to help others get there. 

1BIG SKY ACADEMY
12508 Cramer Creek Road
Clinton, MT 59825
406-825-2600

admin@bigskyacademy.net
 

(© Big Sky Academy 2020