Both our high school and K-8 curricula are based on the following guiding principles: provide an engaging, experiential learning experience built on rigorous academic standards; support and adapt to each student’s learning style and needs; and respect the sensitivity, intelligence and creativity of each individual.
Both our K-8 and high school curricula offer hands-on experiences and creative assignments. Naturally, there is more time in the early grades for students to do craft and art projects, but we continue to integrate artistic expression into the curriculum throughout high school. As students progress from middle school to high school, they experience a greater intellectual curiosity. Our curriculum takes advantage of this by providing increasingly rigorous academic challenges, which helps prepare students for college and career.
All enrolled students earn an accredited transcript that is recognized by colleges and universities worldwide. But in order to graduate with a diploma from Oak Meadow, a student must be enrolled in Oak Meadow for her or his senior year for a minimum of three credits and meet all other credit requirements. Students transferring to Oak Meadow must provide official transcripts from an accredited learning institution in order for previous work to be included on the Oak Meadow transcript. Our graduation requirements can be found here.
Transcript reviews are conducted each spring (or any time by request) to ensure every enrolled student who wishes to receive an Oak Meadow diploma is on track to meet graduation requirements.
High School teachers provide instruction related to the curriculum that expands the content of a course, and they challenge students to think about the meaning and purpose of the material. This instruction will come in the form of additional materials and resources that teachers deliver through email, phone conversations, Skype, and Google Hangout. Working alongside the curriculum, this material and engagement will help students:
- Develop a solid understanding of the important lessons to be learned from the material as they relate to the specific discipline/content of the course
- Develop perspective on how the course relates to student life and larger issues in the world
- Foster curiosity and the generation of new knowledge and new ways of seeing and being
- Prepare for citizenship in the global community
- Prepare for college and life beyond school
Depending on the subject, teacher, and type of coursework, lesson due dates fluctuate from weekly to biweekly to once a month. Teachers provide instruction, guidance, and evaluation verbally and in writing, using the written materials as a framework augmented with the teacher’s individual expertise. Teachers provide a written evaluation of each submission of student work, along with a lesson grade that is entered into our student database and is accessible to students and their families. At the end of each semester, the teacher provides a formal comprehensive student evaluation detailing the student’s performance during the course.
How much writing is required in high school? How do you help students develop writing skills in middle school and high school?
The Oak Meadow curriculum focuses on strong reading and writing skills, and students are given a wide variety of assignments to help them develop these skills. We also incorporate writing across the curriculum, so science and math teachers will hold students to the same writing conventions as do our humanities teachers.
Students learn to write well thought out essays and opinion pieces, conduct in-depth research, craft fiction and poetry, work with many styles of non-fiction writing, and produce cohesive, persuasive writing. The amount of writing each week varies, but student regularly produce essay and reports of different lengths. In general, students can expect to spend approximately one hour per day per subject, or 5 hours per week per subject. Of course, every student is different and some may need more time with particular assignments or subjects (e.g., writing or math).
While Oak Meadow is primarily a print-based curriculum, enrolled students and families utilize technology for communication, collaboration, creativity, and community. We value the developmental growth that springs from the printed page, yet acknowledge the power of technology as a tool for connection and research.
Students from grades 7 to 12 work within the Oak Meadow domain using Google Apps for Education. Beyond the exchange of assignments, questions, and feedback, the platform is also used for class discussions, interactive projects, presentations, and more. Oak Meadow also maintains a social media groups for high school students, OM Awesome, a safe space for students to connect and for teachers to comment in an informal setting on a range of topics.
Students who live in areas where online access is limited will need to problem-solve in order to participate in our Project-Based Learning courses and other required synchronous events.
In keeping with our spirit of independent learning, enrolled juniors and seniors are required to participate in a self-directed Advanced Study Project (ASP). This one-semester project earns credit and is an ideal opportunity for you to engage in an exciting and relevant academic or professional study of your own design. You’ll work with both a local mentor and an Oak Meadow faculty advisor to create a proposal and outline for your course of study, including a reading list, assignment descriptions and deadlines, and final project evaluation measures. There are three options for the ASP: an academic project, a professional work experience, or a hybrid project that combines both.
For the academic projects, students write a research paper, compile a portfolio of experiments or essays, or produce a video or multimedia presentation. Topics can include any area of interest broadly categorized into the subjects of science, literature, or history. Our faculty advisors work with you to clarify interests and create guidelines for study and assignments.
For professional advanced study, students immerse themselves in an active working environment for valuable hands-on learning. A professional in the field of your choice mentors you as you gain skills and real-life experience. Your final evaluation is based on your weekly journal, documentation of hours and accomplishments, a mentor review, and a reflective essay.
Oak Meadow has recently developed a couple of textbook-independent high school courses. Here’s what this means and how these courses work.
For all students: In the past, OM has used textbooks mainly as research tools. What is essential to a course is not the textbook used, but the essential questions asked in the course and the ability of students to answer those questions by learning how to evaluate information at its source. Understanding information in the context of a topic or the real world requires students to analyze material from a variety of sources.
Textbook-independent courses encourage and challenge students to develop strong research and technology skills, engage in critical thinking, and take charge of their learning. Rather than seeing students as passive receivers of information, our textbook-independent curriculum is organized around important central questions that challenge students to think critically about subject matter and help them engage with key knowledge by making it relevant to the world in which they live. We achieve this by both freeing our courses from simply following the content of any one textbook and, simultaneously, challenging students to answer questions and complete their lessons by consulting one or more sources.
Textbooks are not courses, they are tools used by teachers as resources to help students find information. While textbooks can be valuable sources of information, the skills and perspectives a student gains by seeking out sources and evaluating information can lead to more meaningful learning than simply turning to a textbook for answers. With textbook-independent courses, Oak Meadow has taken an important next step forward in developing courses that offer students the opportunity to continue an outside-the-box education.
Practical tips: Students can use ANY relevant textbook or other research materials to learn about the lesson topics, which are listed in each lesson. Ideally, students will use a wide variety of print and online sources, such as non-fiction books, educational websites, films, textbooks, journals, novels, artwork, news archives, and podcasts. Students may need help locating relevant sources and developing good research and note-taking skills. Having adult guidance in the first few lessons can help them set up effective habits. The introduction to each course includes tips on how to read research materials and evaluate internet sources.
The OM Bookstore will stock one textbook per course subject that can be used as the primary reading material, but there won’t be one specific textbook attached to the course.
Our curriculum resource page includes vetted resource links to provide a starting point to students who are unfamiliar with internet research or who need assistance.
For enrolled students: The Oak Meadow coursebook contains the course assignments and projects, and the teacher will provide more information and course content via the Google course doc. Teachers can help students locate relevant sources if they are having difficulty and give them tips for developing effective research skills.
While enrolled at Oak Meadow, is it possible for me to take a course at another school or college (dual enrollment)?
Oak Meadow fully supports dual enrollment, enabling students to broaden their education by taking courses elsewhere. Our course credits are transferable to public and private schools, and courses taken at other accredited schools can be included in Oak Meadow transcripts. Students engage in classroom science labs, group language courses, and other opportunities at local high schools and community colleges. It is fairly common for high school students to take a college level course or two before enrolling as a full-time freshman in college. Many benefits are realized by dual enrollment: the student gets a taste of a college experience, and college admissions personnel can see how the student fares in a college setting. Summer programs, domestic or international, may also provide opportunities for credit.
Oak Meadow enrolled high schoolers are encouraged to pursue their passions and to integrate fully into their communities, as well as to explore widely through travel and other experiences. Through our Life Experience Elective Credit program, it is possible to earn up to one full elective credit per year (four total possible, during high school) for these activities. Work/community service experience, music lessons, theater involvement, sports activities, visual and fine arts classes, dance, martial arts can all earn LEEC.
We have developed several tools to help college-bound students and their families. College counseling consultation is included in tuition for enrolled high school students. Open to all high school students and families is our free college counseling webinar series. These interactive, online presentations include several College Counseling 101 sessions, as well as other topical issues relevant to the typical college admission timeline throughout the year. We leave plenty of time for questions and answers at the end of each session.
Our experienced Oak Meadow college counselor also is available to consult with independent curriculum users for an hourly fee. With extensive experience in college admissions, the counselor guides and assists students in making the most of their homeschooling experience on college application materials. In addition, we offer students an academic planning sheet to help them keep track of their credits, and enrolled students receive an annual transcript review to make sure they are on track to achieve their academic goals. See our college counseling page for more information, resources, and helpful links.
Oak Meadow has an experienced school counselor on staff, who is available to work one-to-one with enrolled students and families. This is a unique program for a distance school. The counselor works to promote students’ academic, personal, and social development, and she can lend a compassionate ear and provide advice for students who might be struggling in school, at home, in a relationship, or other situation. She will work with the high school director and other staff to help devise a strategy for the student’s success. Our counselor also encourages students to let her know when things are going well, too!
The school counselor also plays a role in helping to strengthen the school community and develop strong and supportive relationships among students, faculty, and staff. Here is a sample of our school counseling initiatives.
- Career Cruising: This online tool allows students to explore career and college opportunities, including a learning style inventories to them discover future career options and to plan ahead.
- The OM Awesome High School Group: Enrolled students are invited to participate in this Google forum. It’s a safe space for students to connect and to discuss topics of shared interest. Teachers, the high school director, the college counselor, and other staff post messages of interest as well.
- Student Connections: The school counselor periodically invites students to participate in an activity to help students connect with one another in an informal way.
Go to High School page.