Every Saturday looks different at New Hampton School, but often times, Saturday morning turns into an exciting, hands-on, experiential learning opportunity, where students dive deeper into a topic they’ve been studying throughout the week.
Extended Block Saturdays were designed to support brain science research about the way students learn, and to provide more flexibility to teachers to facilitate meaningful learning experiences. As research shows that depth of content over breadth leads to stronger learning outcomes, it makes sense to provide students the time they need to dive deeply into a subject or concept they are learning, which they might not have in a more traditional 70-minute class.
Faculty requirements for Extended Blocks are also flexible; they are expected to take advantage of a three-hour block of time to do a lesson or have an experience they might not otherwise be able to facilitate. The opportunities are vast. During extended blocks, students have taken water samples to test at a nearby lake, gone on field trips to study the architecture of a Cathedral or the State House in the Capital. Students have visited art galleries, cooked recipes in their World Language, and built a trebuchet and calculated expected landings for objects.
Another outcome of Extended Saturdays has been a strengthening of classroom culture. Classmates engaged for an extended period of time, oftentimes outside of the four walls of the classroom with their teacher, have benefited from new experiences together, shared learning, collaborative projects and time to build relationships.
In addition to more authentic opportunities for learning, teachers can also better assess their student’s understandings of a concept. Experiential learning and learning outside of the classroom, help our students more clearly build connections between what they are learning in each class and the “real world” in which they live. We hope extended Saturdays are here to stay.
In each class, every student will have at least one extended block Saturday, and the opportunity to have fun, explore, and try new things with their classmates.