Expeditionary Learning

Expeditionary Learning: Our Guiding Methodology

We chose a hands-on, experiential methodology based on Expeditionary Learning for our full-day school, aiming to provide students with the education and critical life skills they need to move beyond the garbage dump.

Expeditionary Learning is an interactive methodology, combining on-site and off-site activities to create an immersive, interdisciplinary learning experience that engages our students and motivates them to stay in school. Outings away from the garbage dump community give our students the opportunity to encounter a part of their world otherwise unavailable to them, and show them how their knowledge can be applied to the real world.

We know that our students need more than just academic knowledge to become successful, productive members of their community in the future. Expeditionary Learning places a strong emphasis on values, helping students become well-rounded citizens by learning to practice responsibility, teamwork, honesty, respect and trust every day.

Expeditionary Learning was chosen at the guiding methodology for our full-day school as it best fits the needs of our student population. EL promotes a positive learning setting, which gives children the motivation and confidence to learn despite difficult environments outside of school. Furthermore, a 2013 study revealed that EL education has a greater positive impact on low-income students.


In Expeditionary Learning, an “expedition” is a unit of study that lasts anywhere from a few weeks to a full semester, incorporating multiple academic subjects into an overarching theme. Expeditions include group work in the classroom, independent research, outings, and a final presentation.

Our teachers plan community-based expeditions in which students visit locations related to their units of study. Students become active investigators on these outings, interviewing experts in the field, researching their topic in person, and learning through activities.

Students on an outing to the water treatment plant.

To learn more, read about one of our Expeditionary Learning outings here.


In Expeditionary Learning, all community members are encouraged to think of themselves as crew members, not passengers, so that students learn early on that they have an important role in their own education. Each of our students is part of an advisory group called a “Crew” that meets every day. A Crew is made up of one teacher and about 10-15 students.

During Crew meetings, students check in with their teachers, track academic goals, and participate in interactive activities that teach how values can guide their everyday lives. Students typically stay in the same Crew with the same teacher every year, so Crew is also a place where students develop a sense of belonging and where they can build lasting supportive relationships.