Fully Immersed: Designing Deeper Learning #3weeks1course

This year, Bay launched Schedule 2.0. This bold restructure of our high school schedule deepens student learning by giving students five rather than six classes per semester and adding two Immersive terms, three-week periods in which students take one course every day all day, earning a semester’s worth of transferable course credit. This new schedule and the project-based, interdisciplinary course offerings that help students apply their classroom learning in the field with external partner-teachers represents a model of immersive learning that only a handful of high schools, colleges, and universities across the country have implemented. Read Dean of Faculty Lori Cohen’s reflection on Immersives on the California Teacher Development Collaborative site.

“This is definitely great prep work for my future as an artist.” – Mookie ’19, Studio Art

In the Studio Art Immersive students worked in individual studios off-site–experiencing the focused, intensive practice of working artists–with feedback and critique from their fellow artists and teacher Ted Andersen, inspiration from SFMoMA, and a culminating open studios exhibition event after three weeks of work.

Reducing the number of courses in the regular semester and adding Immersives provides Bay students with more time and space to understand and address complex areas and questions that require them to think and feel deeply, employ curiosity, and engage in community experiences that connect academic skills and knowledge from multiple subject areas with applications in the real world. While educators nationwide are challenged to teach 21st century skills such as curiosity, critical thinking, collaboration, flexibility, digital literacy and more, Bay has architected and implemented a model of learning that helps students, as our mission states, “unlock their individual and collective potential so they begin to realize their roles in a dynamic world.”  

“The field trips are the best part of it. Actually getting to go and do something and being active.”
– Gabriella ’19, Mathematics of Democracy

In the Mathematics of Democracy, students visited the Marin Department of Elections, met with Supervisor Mandelman and Senator Wiener, attended the SF Board of Supervisors meeting, and visited SF’s City Hall. After learning about the political and mathematical processes that shape legislation, elections, and our lives as citizens–methods for vote counting in ranked-choice elections, how the math of the electoral college works to create proportional representation (as much as is possible), the difference between a census and a sample (and how this may apply to the US Census), and gerrymandering, they proposed transformative changes to current political practices and legislation, ranging from ranked-choice voting using the Schulze Method to felons’ voting rights and the declaration of Election Day as a national holiday.

In this first year with Bay’s new schedule and the launch of Immersives, we are eagerly gathering feedback from students, faculty, staff, parents, and community partners to enhance the learning experience for all. Early reviews from teachers and students indicate that this new schedule is achieving what we had hoped—students taking less courses all at once, extending their learning into the world, and developing vital skills and habits of mind for the future. Below are just a few highlights from Bay’s first Immersive term in January as well as a list of Bay’s Immersive offerings for 2019-2020.

“I think we talk a lot about real-world applications and how our classes relate beyond us personally and that’s what I feel like the Immersives do.”
-Asha ’19, Filmmaking

Filmmaking students conceived, scripted, shot and produced a film in three weeks, including offsite filming at Stinson Beach for a week, with storms raging this fierce winter. The film, The Inciter: Inside a Mind of the Indoor Kind, premiered at the Walt Disney Museum at Bay’s Exhibition Night.

“Having three weeks for an Immersive allowed us to travel to Seattle, to a scientific conference, and present our research to amateur and professional astronomers.”
– Oona ’20, Astronomy

Astronomy students attend the 233rd biennial meeting of the American Astronomical Society with a poster presentation of the Cosmic-dIRt poster from the NITARP 2018 program. Oona ’20 fielded questions from professional astronomers for 90 minutes.

In Assembling San Francisco, ninth grade students studied the San Francisco Bay regional landscape’s geology, ultimately presenting on how the land shaped human life and vice-versa. Students hiked around Hawk Hill, Pt. Bonita and Marshall Beach, observing, sketching, photographing (and tasting!) chert, pillow basalt, and serpentine rocks, discovered numerous city parks they hadn’t known, and took an overnight trip to Point Reyes.

Modern American Family students studied fiction, essays, poetry and visual arts to understand the history, construction, influences, and representation of family. After three weeks of intense study, each presented sophisticated “albums” representing their unique family identity and stories. This gallery shows students with artifacts they chose to represent themselves in the early part of the course.

-Art Studio
-Assembling San Francisco
-Atmospheric Science and
Engineering:Launching Near-SpaceWeather Balloons
-Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Design
-Biology of Health & Wellness
-California Geology: A Field Experience
-California Natural History
-Connecting to Place: Literature
and Creative Practice
-Engineering 2
-Everyone Has a Story
-First Ascents: The Indigenous
History and Literature of California
-Immersive Spanish: Cultural
Diversity in the Bay Area
-Shakespeare Unbound
-Mathematics of Democracy
-Mathematics of Digital Animation
-Mathematics of Finance &
-Modern American Family
-Uncovering Cultural Bias in
-The Writers Life: A Creative Exploration
-Water in the American West: The
Eastern Sierra Nevada
-Wealth & Poverty