Going beyond listening, reading and memorizing, active learning is "anything that involves students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing" (Bonwell and Eison, 1991). Active learning features collaboration, discussion and reflection, and fosters understanding rather than memorization of facts. It gives students more autonomy over their learning and helps students learn how to learn. When students discuss a challenging question, respond to an in-class prompt in writing, predict the outcome of an experiment, or apply knowledge from a reading to a case study, that is active learning.
Experiential Learning is the process of learning by doing. By engaging students in hands-on experiences and reflection, they are better able to connect theories and knowledge learned in the classroom to real-world situations. Experiential learning opportunities exist in a variety of course- and non-course-based forms and may include community service, service-learning, research, study abroad/away, and culminating experiences such as internships, student teaching, and AP Capstone projects, to name a few.
Boys experience their teachers before they experience the lessons they teach.”1 Relational learning relies on strong relationships between teachers and their students. It reimagines the teacher’s role as a trusted guide rather than a dynamic based on power — as can be the case in rigid classroom environments. Boys are relational learners and their successful learning outcomes are strongly linked to the positive relationship with their teachers. Crescent’s teachers and coaches forge powerful connections with our boys, making certain that each of them feels known, cared for and recognized as an individual. They establish meaningful relationships that are not only preconditions to the boys' character development but also to their ongoing engagement in learning.
1I Can Learn From You, Michael Reichert and Richard Hawley, 2014
Since 1913, developing character has been central to our mission.
Crescent’s founder, Jimmy James, believed that it was important to establish a school that was “kinder and gentler than the fierce caning world” of the time. He wanted Crescent School to emphasize character development as much as drilling the rigorous academic standards of the day. This philosophy continues today.
What is new, however, is our deliberate, systematic and evidence-based approach to teaching and assessing character competency. We have done this work in partnership with the Centre for Curriculum Redesign, a non-profit global organization dedicated to improving education by answering the question: “What should students learn for the 21st century?”
Many schools recognize the importance of enhancing knowledge with character competencies, mindsets, and abilities, but very few move beyond intention. Crescent is one of the first schools in the world to integrate—and develop evidence to demonstrate—character competency across our curricular and co-curricular programs.
Crescent’s twelve character qualities are broken down into specific sub-quality (also called "subcompetency") examples. This precision is necessary for meaningful teaching and provides tangible ways for students to demonstrate proficiency in a competency.
Character qualities are improvable with deliberate practice; character competency can be assessed to identify where there is room for improvement. To help with this work, Crescent uses rubrics which specify tangible actions, behaviours, and mindsets that indicate proficiency in a competency, facilitating conversation and reflection. These tools are also used to chart pathways for growth and identify areas to improve along the way.