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9th Grade Open Interdisciplinary Team

9th Grade Open Team

2016 - 2017




The 9th Grade Open Interdisciplinary Team takes a thematic approach to education.  Students examine issues and search for answers by using strategies from different disciplines.  Students on the team have the same teachers for history, science, english, and often math as well.  Progressive or “Open” education is based on the premise that the goal of schooling is to teach children how to think rather than what to think.  Each child is an individual and will undoubtedly have unique learning abilities and goals.  The Open classroom is a forum for each student to set her/his course of learning to reach those goals.  Students are given many choices and expected to take a leadership role in the responsibility for learning individually and for the larger group.

The entire Open Program at South High School is designed around this progressive philosophy, but this fall all 9th graders in the Open Program are participating in our “maiden voyage” of a teamed approach where all of the students will have their core graduation requirements (World History, Physical Science, and English) taught by a team of teachers working closely together to coordinate the curriculum as much as possible and provide a solid foundation in progressive learning.

uUnifying Themesu

Throughout the year the three courses of this interdisciplinary learning team will broadly orient each unit around the following guiding questions:

  • How do we, as human, make choices?
  • What are different strategies to effectively solve problems?
  • What are the characteristics and tools of a highly qualified “expert” in a field such as mathematics, history, literature/writing, science?


uFocus on Learningu

Letter and number grades have been the norm in traditional schooling.  As the renowned progressive educator Alfie Kohn has stated, grades do not promote critical thinking and learning, but rather diminish them. Researchers have found three consistent effects of using – and especially, emphasizing the importance of – letter or number grades:

1.  Grades tend to reduce students’ interest in the learning itself. 

2.  Grades tend to reduce students’ preference for challenging tasks. 

3.  Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking.