Students and staff lead with, and live by, empathy. Using empathy as the filter by which to view things gives learners a different perspective and enables them to understand the world around and outside of themselves. Empathy requires learners to be vulnerable and put themselves in the shoes of others. Empathy is not simply feeling sorry for someone, but rather feeling with someone. Empathy fuels connection. It is staying away from judgment, recognizing someone’s perspective as their truth, recognizing that person’s emotion, and then communicating it back to them. Empathy is not easy, but in order to connect with others, students find the ability within themselves to understand the feelings of others.
Students learn confidence, passion, leadership, adaptability, grit, teamwork, compassion, critical thinking, communications, collaboration, research, quantitative reasoning, and analysis. One Stone graduates are ready for life, ready to lead, and ready to make a positive impact on the world.
One Stone learners move forward with failure, learning from what went wrong, and iterating new solutions. The ability to learn from failure is a crucial characteristic of high-functioning people—it fuels grit. One Stone students learn the importance of stamina, passion, and perseverance, and unswerving dedication to accomplishing goals.
Design thinking is a creative problem solving and innovation discovery process developed by David Kelley at IDEO and Stanford University’s d.school. One Stone is a leader in using design thinking with high school students for innovative projects relating to social good and entrepreneurship. Using design thinking, students uncover new ideas that allow them to disrupt for good, breaking though the status quo and creating lasting change. At One Stone, learners use design thinking to navigate through real-world and interdisciplinary projects, plan internships, start ventures, develop presentations, and realize their passions. Design thinking helps One Stone learners re-frame the way they look at the world to attack and solve problems and issues.
One Stone provides opportunities for learners to work on One Stone social enterprises or start their own ventures that invest proceeds back into the school. Working with entrepreneurs, subject matter experts, Trailhead, the Venture College at Boise State University, and others, One Stone learners who are excited about starting their own businesses are able to learn while they chase their passions. All students work for One Stone ventures to facilitate personal growth through ownership and accountability.
Although One Stone will deliver high-quality, well-rounded learning opportunities, students need significant science, technology, engineering, and mathematics capabilities to succeed in tomorrow’s society and economy. One Stone provides a fundamentally different approach to teaching and learning STEM. Deep academic content is delivered through online resources. Individual student learning plans and One Stone projects ensure rigor and STEM skills development while providing explicit connections to higher education and to business and industry.
As a component of critical 21st century skills, all One Stone learners learn computer programming. As explained by Marc Andreessen, entrepreneur and co-founder of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, “Learning to code is the single best thing anyone can do to get the most out of the amazing future in front of us.”
One Stone has a maker space, the Foundry, and a variety of software and hardware tools for STEM-related projects and skills development. The focus on STEM and coding helps ensure that One Stone students are equipped with the necessary skills to take advantage of real-world opportunities.
Using blended and online learning approaches, One Stone learners independently complete online instructional components which are supplemented by coaches and subject matter experts. The online and in-person learning experiences complement one another. Online learning consists of video-recorded presentations, live video and text chats, and other digitally enabled learning activities like those provided by Khan Academy and others. Students typically work independently on online lessons and assignments at home or elsewhere and periodically meet with coaches to review learning progress, discuss questions, or receive assistance with difficult concepts. This method of content delivery allows students to learn in a comfortable place and at their own pace. It frees up time for students to work collaboratively on projects and other passions at One Stone.
One Stone uses a competency-based approach for assessment of learning. Advancement is based on students demonstrating mastery of the knowledge and skills for particular academic content. If students fail to meet expected standards, they get the coaching needed to ensure that they master critical knowledge, concepts, and skills. A competency-based approach also helps ensure that learning gaps and achievement gaps are avoided. One Stone learners progress based on mastery of skills rather than age which supports the no grade levels core principle approach of One Stone.
Students at One Stone shape their learning experiences by developing end executing a personalized learning plan—designing and leading their own learning while coaches provide the scaffolding and support. The key to this approach is putting students in the driver’s seat with real ownership. Students make connections between online learning, topics, projects, and real-world situations. Significant research provides qualitative evidence that personalized, student-directed learning improves student motivation, engagement, goal-setting, awareness of strengths and weaknesses, discovery of passions, and perception of real-world relevance.
Students and advisors meet regularly in small groups enabling deep student-to-student and student-to-adult relationships. In each meeting, students and advisors discuss the student’s individual growth and development goals, and how the student can find and develop passions. Using this innovative advisory model, One Stone fosters meaningful, positive relationships between students and coaches and shows students that they are valued. It builds community and engagement as they set goals and track achievement in partnership with a trusted adult. Research shows that both adults and students report positive experiences with this type of advisory model and its connection to student/adult relationships, student interaction, student behavior, student emotional well being, social growth, positive school culture, academic achievements, and decision-making.
One Stone learners build a deep understanding of complex, interdisciplinary, hands-on, real-world issues through student-led projects. Project-based learning provides students with opportunities to work collaboratively on meaningful, long-term projects. As a result, they learn how to plan and how to connect the dots between many small pieces of work to form and execute an entire project. Multiple teams take different approaches to problems, leading to a wide diversity of end products. This method teaches different approaches, allows for rotating and sharing roles, inspires meaningful gratification, and encourages important forms of learning that come through collaboration. It allows students to take on substantial challenges together. Among other things, students learn how to: manage ambitious projects; set up teams with individual accountability but common goals; work through multiple work products and revisions; participate in student-led processes; and reflect on outcomes.
Research demonstrates that project-based learning enhances critical thinking, creativity, confidence in learning, the ability to define problems, reasoning with clear arguments, mastery of content, and sensitivity to audiences. Moreover, students who participate in project-based learning benefit from improvements in motivation and attitudes toward learning, enhanced work habits, increased problem-solving abilities, and higher proficiency with empathy and collaboration.
Internships connect One Stone learning with the working world, providing students with meaningful outside learning opportunities and real-world experiences. Through internships, students improve communications with adults, develop positive relationships with mentors, learn accountability and responsibility, develop practical skills, and take advantage of opportunities to apply their learning. Each learner’s specific interests and passions drive the internship choice and experience. Students work alongside adults to see the job, understand the issues and requirements, and help solve real problems.
Experts report that building internships into the learning experience exposes students to skills and knowledge that are difficult to learn in the classroom. Those opportunities improve rigor and ground learning in real life and real work.
Mindfulness is maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment. It means living in the moment and awakening to experience. By practicing mindfulness, One Stone learners are able to maintain a state of active, open attention on their learning and the environment around them. Research demonstrates that practicing mindfulness decreases stress levels, helps with focus, aids in impulse control, and enhances the building of community and relationships.
One Stone avoids the traditional school approach of assigning letter grades to homework, quizzes, papers, and tests. Rather than letter grades, One Stone utilizes a number of quantitative and qualitative approaches to assess student achievement across a broad horizon of work. To assess student work, One Stone looks at a student’s total body of work and measures and tracks student growth and progress, competency and depth in academic areas, mastery of 21st century skills, outcomes from projects, and quality of reflections. Inputs include self-assessment, peer-to-peer reviews, and coach/advisor/expert reviews. One Stone learners take standardized tests (e.g. GED, SAT, ACT) as needed to meet requirements for ‘graduation’ and post-secondary education application and admissions processes.
One Stone uses student-generated digital portfolios to compile student work during each term, year, and the entire experience at One Stone. Each One Stone learner documents and presents their work, including reflection on their failures and successes, progress toward their learning plan, work directed at their passions, internship experiences, and other related events. Overall, the portfolios demonstrate the student’s growth over time and the development of important academic and life skills.
Public exhibitions, Disruption Days, of students’ project-based work occur at the end of each term. Students present their work and benefit from discussing it with a real-world audience that includes students, parents, peers, coaches, subject matter experts and the community.