The world needs people who understand the basics of key disciplines like math, science, English, social studies, etc. We agree with this, but the world also needs:
Simply put, this approach helps students develop a curious attitude toward the subject at hand, ask probing questions, and learn how to seek and find answers.
Human societies have, over the millennia, developed knowledge and practices that have helped us to survive and thrive on planet earth. Educational researchers are finding that it is not simply the "facts" or technical aspects that are important to pass on to our children, but also the processes of inquiry--that is, the experiences, struggles, and questioning that led to the knowledge in the first place. These aspects are just as important as the others in understanding and developing truly useful knowledge. Accordingly, incorporating active inquiry into the learning process is an important part of our approach to instruction across the curriculum.
A major portion of our curriculum is organized around deeper and longer-term study of topics. The learning experiences will not just be a "lesson" or a "unit" to cover. Instead, they will be a deep, wide, and engaging experiences that may take anywhere from several weeks to several months to accomplish.
Deep learning focuses on a topic that is both meaningful and important. Various case studies, experiments, projects, and learning workshops are used to gather knowledge about the topic and generate lines of investigation. Relevant tools from the various disciplines are used to study the topic and help students achieve a deep understanding of the various issues. Throughout the experience, teachers structure time for students to produce high-quality work through multiple revisions.
Venture is committed to having its students engage in work that is meaningful and authentic. One of the key ways of accomplishing this is by finding opportunities within our community to study about and contribute to the work of solving real problems being faced by individuals, neighborhoods, businesses, city councils, etc. This work is sometimes simply an agreement to produce a product or service that is needed to enrich some aspect of the community. Two examples of this type of learning are (1) archiving the life of local jazz musician Joe McQueen in partnership with the Weber State University Archives, History Department, and Education Department, and (2) participating in federally funded research at the Canyonlands National Park in partnership with the Utah State University Biology Department and Education Department. We have other opportunities like these that are currently under development. We are excited to bring more partnerships and service opportunities to Venture High School!
Participation in fieldwork is another important and common way in which Venture students improve their understanding and skills in relation to the topics they are studying and the questions they are pursuing. After having gained significant understanding of a topic from in-class learning, investigations outside the classroom in “the field,” can provide an important way to seek answers to questions, conduct experiments, gather data, and confirm or challenge present understandings. Certain aspects of a topic cannot be fully understood without the perspectives gained through this important fieldwork. A given year often has 50 separate fieldwork excursions have been conducted by various student groups in the high school.
Venture teachers and students seek out expertise within the community to provide valuable insight as well as critique of student work. Often these experts are invited to the school; sometimes students travel to their places of employment; and sometimes these experts assist in, or guide, fieldwork activities.
Intensives occur twice a year for two weeks each time. These innovative classes help rekindle and strengthen a love of learning and exploration in students. Regular studies are set aside during this time frame and students and teachers have the opportunity to explore a compelling topic in great depth all day, every day, for the time period. Learn more about Intensives here.
Venture offers an impressive array of elective offerings that give students the opportunity to pursue their interests. Classes we offer include Archery, zoology, Native Americans in Utah, The Good Life, Oceanography, Astronomy, psychology, photography, choir, band, and more! We provide teachers with opportunities to teach courses in which they have a particular interest. Teachers often make use of local resources including nature, experts, and fieldwork.
As a "just right sized" high school we are able to offer an impressive variety of courses for our students. We also offer early college options, connection to Ogden-Weber Technical College, and other future-preparation paths.