Boy-Friendly Curriculum

How Boys Learn Differently One-on-One Teaching

The Blue Ridge School Learning Model

Our learning model is boy-centered: we use this learning model to explain what we want for our boys and how we are going to help them achieve those goals, because we can focus on how boys learn differently and how to best engage them for a positive and effective learning experience.  It is both our touchstone and our filter.

To develop this learning model, we used the principles of Understanding by Design to focus on what is essential for boys. We asked:

  • What do the boys really need to know and be able to do in this area?
  • How can the boys demonstrate mastery in this area?
  • How do we best engage the boys so that they will be able to demonstrate mastery of essential skills and concepts in this area?

From these questions we have developed the following set of goals, beliefs, and actions:

ACADEMIC OBJECTIVES FOR THE BLUE RIDGE SCHOOL GRADUATE

When a boy graduates from Blue Ridge School, we want him to be able to accomplish the following:

Find, analyze, evaluate and state in his own words the information necessary to understand and explain a phenomenon or issue.

Evidence of growth in this area may be gathered from the following sources in all subject areas:

  • Brief written research assignments and lab reports demonstrating increasingly sophisticated use of print and digital resources
  • Use of “current events” assignments, especially in science and history
  • Class presentations or productions and other public speaking opportunities, with appropriate use of technology
  • Graphs, charts and diagrams illustrating understanding

Write and speak persuasively and at length on a given topic.

Evidence of growth in this area may be gathered from the following sources in all subject areas:

  • Essays, papers and presentations in all subject areas
  • Speech and debate, whether within a class, an advisory group, or an all-school setting such as a speech at chapel or assembly
  • A video that is recorded and posted for public view

How Boys Learn Differently Hands-On Learning

View and explain a phenomenon or issue from at least two competing points of view (to include cultural, religious, and political viewpoints).

Evidence of growth in this area may be gathered from the following sources in all subject areas:

  • Comparison charts and webs
  • Debate – in class or via threaded discussions online
  • Mock trials of fictional and historic characters
  • Research papers and literary or historical analyses that stipulate this skill as a required element

Use problem-solving techniques, including: the scientific method; breaking a complicated issue into simpler “chunks”; working backwards from the solution; using estimation to evaluate progress; and brainstorming multiple approaches. In all cases, the student should be able to explain his reasoning and show how he arrived at his answer.

Evidence of growth in this area may be gathered from the following sources in all subject areas:

  • Work shown on chapter and term assessments, particularly in math and science
  • Work completed when conferring with an advisor or tutor
  • Partnered and group problem-solving activities in all classes, including lab activities and discussion
  • Use of software programs and tablet applications that promote one or more of the above techniques

Use a system for taking notes from lectures, textbooks, and digital sources that works for him.

Evidence of growth in this area may be gathered from the following sources in all subject areas:

  • Formal and informal note checks by teachers and by advisor
  • Student self-evaluation of notes after he is provided a rubric for or example of “quality” notes for a particular lecture or assignment
  • Indirect evidence of organization as reflected by homework and daily quiz averages

Appreciate literature, the outdoors, music, and the visual and performing arts not only as venues for learning but also as venues in which one may fully immerse oneself in rehearsal, reflection and sheer recreation.

Evidence of growth in this area may be gathered from the following observations:

  • Blog contributions and reaction essays from the summer reading requirement
  • Sharing thoughts on a written piece that is not part of any school requirement, in person or via a blog or threaded discussion
  • Participation in school-affiliated performances and perhaps performances in the surrounding area
  • Participation in the voluntary Rites of Passage program
  • Impromptu sharing of artwork, a poem, a song, a skit, a dance, or an instrumental piece in either a small-group or large-group setting
  • Informal discussions with faculty on any topic to which thought has clearly been given

There is not a specific graduate technology goal, and that is intentional. Technological tools and skills will continue to grow, evolve, and be adapted by our teachers and students to best use in reaching the above goals.

The Groves Family Legacy Tuition Program honors Robert W. “Bobby” Groves III ’67 and his family. Bobby and his wife Anne were the first alumni parents to enroll a child at BRS. Their son Billy graduated in 1995 and their nephews Johnson and Robert Stevens were equally successful here, graduating in 2003 and 2006, respectively.

Blue Ridge is incredibly proud of this legacy and for the sterling example that Bobby and his family have set.