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AHCS teachers teach core subjects in a dynamic Project-Based, Mastery Learning Environment.  Some electives, like Orchestra, PE, and Business classes are taught in a mastery classroom.  For the AHCS Expeditionary Elective program, students get an intense, immersive, and experiential learning opportunity in a variety of non-traditional subjects that align with our mission to create patriotic and educated leaders.

Each semester, students are offered a two-week Expedition, where they focus on the elective topic.  They join with a teacher and experts from the community in a smaller group of students to "learn by doing."  During these intense Expeditions, students get a concentrated 60 hours of instruction and experience that incorporates research, experiments, activities, guest speakers, and memorable field trips to expose students to real world experiences and applications of what they're learning.

Expeditions courses are supervised by teachers with added instruction from people that are professionals in that particular field. Allowing students to experience the subject matter not only gives them an authentic view of the subject-matter, but offers a real-life experience that will cement knowledge and skills that will benefit them long after graduating from AHCS. The blend of experiential learning and schoolwork gives students a deeper understanding and much bigger picture than they could get by just reading about it in a book.

About Expeditionary Learning

Expeditionary Learning is based on the educational ideas of Kurt Hahn, a German educator and the founder of Outward Bound. There are more than 150 EL schools in the United States, with programs in 30 states and D.C. EL is growing in popularity among parents, teachers, and students alike. 

According to the University of Illinois, only 10% of secondary students are auditory learners, yet 80% of traditional instruction is auditory. On the contrary, 50% of secondary students are kinesthetic learners, students who learn best through movement and by doing. Though these learners often struggle in a traditional classroom, they shine in an Expeditionary Learning environment where experiments, field trips, and community interaction take center stage.

Expeditionary learning is focused on real-world application.  AHCS Expeditions empower the student as a creator and integral part of a team.  Assignments and projects typically have a tangible benefit to the school or community. In addition, the format of our Expeditions offer students a variety of ever-changing, non-traditional, and meaningful electives.

Learning in our Expeditions is still aligned to applicable State content standards, but students are not graded on performance-based tests and their ability to recall information on the spot. Rather, they are judged on the quality of the work they produce and their contributions to the Expedition, in a similar way to a performance evaluation in the workplace.

10 principles Underlying AHCS Expeditions

Building on the Expeditionary Learning model from Hahn, AHCS strives to build its Expeditions on the following principles:
1) the primacy of self-discovery
2) the having of wonderful ideas
3) the responsibility for learning
4) empathy and caring
5) success and failure
6) collaboration and competition
7) diversity and inclusion
8) the natural world
9) solitude and reflection
10) service and compassion

Expedition Electives at AHCS

AHCS Expeditions vary from semester to semester, depending on student needs, teacher interests, funding, and the availability of experts in the community to help. 

Examples of past and potential AHCS Expeditions include:

  1. Cowboy Ethics / Horseback Riding
  2. A Hero's Journey
  3. Patriotism & the U.S. Constitution
  4. Leadership & Service
  5. U.S. History through Film
  6. Military Service & History
  7. Local Government / City Planning
  8. Idaho History through Exploration
  9. Orienteering / Hiking
  10. STEM / Coding & Robotics (compute programming as a career; programming languages; robotics; Idaho National Lab Virtual Reality tour)
  11. Career Exploration (Construction, Cosmetology, Horticulture, etc.)
  12. Cryptology & Code Breaking
  13. Dave Ramsey Financial Peace (budgeting/career plans/personal responsibility; marketing & presentations)
  14. Federal & State Government Service
  15. Criminal Justice & Law
  16. Gun Safety & the 2nd Amendment / Hunters Education
  17. Sports in American Culture
  18. Lifetime Fitness
  19. American Entrepreneurism
  20. American Art
  21. American History through Music
  22. College & Career Exploration
  23. DIY Life - Skills Everyone Needs to Learn
  24. College Living - Skills Everyone Needs for College
  25. Health Care & First Responders
  26. Choir or Small Group Performance Ensemble
Photograph of students on an expeditionary field trip to Yellowstone.  Students are gathered in front of a Park Ranger's cabin.

AHCS Students at an Expeditionary Field Trip in Yellowstone National Park

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