A Day at Nexus Academy
“Go to cell A11. Is everybody there? Ok, let’s get ready to move the formula over so we can figure out the average number for each month here. Click and drag the formula to the new cells. Yes. Who needs help? Ok, are we ready to figure out your grade averages for all your exams? We can also do the average amount of rain per month in the rain forest this way... And we also know how to do the payroll formulas on Excel too. Ok, let’s graph those grade averages. Which kind of graph will you use? Let’s add a title to the chart; let me show you how...”
How many of us learned to use Excel formulas in 6th grade? How many of us are still learning how to do this? At Nexus STEM Academy, this is a typical lesson. Another typical lesson would be a formal debate between students on the influence of advertisement in the media on children: pro, con, rebuttal. The power to learn new information, think about varying viewpoints, make a persuasive case and effectively communicate it, these are all expectations at Gestalt. Debate is infused into lessons for all grades. At Nexus, you have to know enough to form an opinion, and then you must be prepared to convince others. And the scholar must argue the point without being disagreeable.
So, how can Nexus Academy achieve this level of critical thinking and deep content with its scholars? Nexus maintains several critical elements of its academic design, including:
- High expectations for achievement
- College preparatory focus
- Meaningful community service
- Project-based learning
- Data-driven accountability
- High technology usage
The root of the Nexus academic design is to utilize the full day to present challenging content in core subjects, while also providing enrichment subjects. Gestalt teaches English Language Arts and mathematics for full mastery, but also makes the time for subjects such as logic, the media, and business ethics. At Nexus, observers will not find long instructional scheduling blocks focused on a few topics; instead, classes are scheduled to use all instructional time in the day and move through content in a variety of classes. This keeps scholars motivated and enables them to apply their learning immediately. With this schedule, there is no “slack time” in the Nexus Academy day.
Nexus Academy’s project-based learning is infused with technology, as scholars demonstrate higher order thinking skills. An example of a project might be a basic trigonometry lesson tied to the project of developing rockets to launch as a real life application. Another example may be a pre-algebra lesson tied to a project that allows scholars to show their mastery of Excel formulas. Technology is not just a subject at Nexus, it's an essential tool woven into every subjects.