Academics
Upper School (Grades 7-12)

Modular Schedule

Beginning in Fall 2020, Indian Creek will transition to a Modular Schedule for grades 7-12.  As a school founded on the principle that schools should teach the way that students learn best, Indian Creek is excited about this transition for it's immense benefits to the student experience. The Modular Schedule is innovative, dynamic, and will allow us to meet the needs of our Upper School students whether Fall 2020 sees us in session on campus, in Virtual School, or in a hybrid of the two.

The module plan offers students the opportunity to take an active part in shaping their educational experience, to experience broadly, and to learn deeply.

The Upper School academic year is divided into seven modules (mods, for short), each lasting approximately five weeks. During each mod, students take three blocks of academic classes that meet every day,  for 80 minutes. This longer class period time will allow for incredible depth into a specific theme or subject area, while at the same time, minimizing the amount of hallway transition time and exposure to other people. Subjects that call for sequential, cumulative learning, such as math or languages, may be taught in blocks that span consecutive mods.

During each Mod, students also have a daily 40-minute block of "Community" time, where we will hold class meetings, Human Development courses, advisory meetings, and other community-building activities. 

Every student has a one-hour lunch period daily, which gives them a break during the day during which they can not only eat lunch, but also hang out with friends, do some homework, study for an afternoon test, meet with clubs, teams, STEM cohorts, or teachers for one-on-one help. (Seventh and eighth grade students will continue to have recess during this time.)

Students are also required to take a 40-minute fourth block, known as X-block, at the end of each day, during which they take part in science labs, math clinics, language clinics, support, peer tutoring, dance, art, yearbook, or enrichment courses such as 3D Printing for Medicine, Writing Poetry, or From Script to Screen.

The Upper School start time has been pushed to 9:00 a.m., which research overwhelmingly proves is best for teens.  However, a before school "period 0" gives students an additional opportunity to participate in performing arts rehearsals, club meetings, or the support program. 

The module system works because of its versatility and the depth of learning it will allow for our teachers and students. With our newly expanded course catalog, students have countless ways to structure their studies to suit their interests, while taking the foundational courses necessary to prepare for college and beyond. 

It works because it means taking fewer classes at a time, for longer time periods a day, allowing students to delve deeply into their material through experiential learning. The daily schedule is carefully crafted so that students have time for classes, assemblies, meetings with advisors, extra help, or clubs and activities—as well as some breathing time to recharge and relax.


Yearly Mod Schedule

The academic year is divided into seven mods, each lasting five weeks. Each mod contains three 80-minute academic classes, one 40-minute enrichment course, one 40-minute community block, and one hour of lunch and social time. Before school allows for an additional hour of extra-curricular time.

Weekly Mod Schedule

Having fewer classes a day, for longer periods of time will allow students to delve deeper into project-based learning.

At a Glance

Safe
With fewer, longer classes, students have less passing time in the hallways and are in contact with fewer classmates and students in a single day.

Flexible
Having three longer classes and one enrichment class at a time will make it easier for students and teachers to pivot to Virtual School if conditions warrant it at any time. This model will also make it easier for families who choose to remain at home this fall to continue learning at the same pace as peers who come to campus.

Deeper Learning
Longer classes allow for deeper dives into each subject. More vibrant project based learning opportunities are available without the constraints of typical class period times. 

Expanded Course Catalog
The modular schedule allows ICS teachers the freedom to develop passion-based courses that would not be possible in a typical school schedule.  Since courses can be completed in 5, 10, or 15 week mods, a wide variety of specialized courses can run throughout the year.  Indian Creek's partnership with Global Online Academy also makes dozens of new courses available to our students through the mod schedule.

Greater Outcomes
The deeper learning made possible by more concentrated exposure to subjects results in high retention and greater student success. Schools who have adopted a modular schedule report higher AP and other test scores. Colleges appreciate the sophisticated projects and internship opportunities that the mod schedule makes possible.

Less Stress
Students report feeling less frantic with only four courses to manage at a time.  Plus longer class periods cause a decrease in the amount of homework assigned.  The later school start time made possible by the modular schedule allows teens to get more sleep and come to school ready to learn.

Daily Mod Schedule

Modular Schedule FAQ

List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • Why is Indian Creek making this radical change so quickly? Wouldn’t it be better to gradually transition over several years?

    We have been looking into a schedule overhaul for several years. We had planned to begin changes no earlier than the 2021-22 school year. However, the pandemic has given us a new and urgent set of priorities.

    Fortunately, many of our plans already in place also make for a safer school environment: fewer classes, longer periods, and less movement, for example. While it may be tempting to try to retain as much of the traditional system as possible, we don’t want to rely on wishful thinking when it comes to the safety of our community. We want a plan that is robust in any scenario, not just in the best scenarios.
  • How is this system safer for students in a pandemic environment?

    Fewer classes in a day reduces exposure to other people and environments. Less daily or weekly changing of class groups reduces risk. Fewer hallway interactions reduces risk. Smaller classroom groups reduce risk. Many other measures being planned by the ICS Health and Safety Task Force will reduce risk.

    Some of these measures, in isolation, may provide only a modest decrease in risk. Some of these, such as cutting the number of classes in half, arguably cut transmission risk in half. For some strategies, the risk reduction is not well known, although not zero. But by applying a broad array of strategies simultaneously, we can dramatically increase the safety of our students and our community.
  • How are students expected to retain knowlege gained in a course that they take in a mod early in the school year, or during mods that may be spaced months apart?

    One of our goals was to create a schedule that provides deeper student learning.

    Research shows that when teaching in-depth (rather than breadth) takes place in classrooms, students suffer less short-term memory loss and little long-term memory loss. In-depth teaching is typically associated with more intense experiences and varied teaching approaches carried out in longer class periods.
  • Why no study halls?

    Study Halls have been replaced by other enhancements to the school day; these include a later start time, designated community time and a longer lunch break. These times can be spent working on homework, meeting with study groups, attendign peer-tutoring, or getting help from a teacher. There are no longer required after school activities after 3:30 p.m.

    By instituting a later start time, reducing the number of classes a student takes at a time, and building breaks into the schedule, we are intentionally slowing the pace of the day in order to create a more balanced experience for students while retaining academic rigor. We also believe that the new schedule will allow students to make better use of the time they spend in class interacting with their peers and teachers.
  • Won’t homework be overwhelming?

    Indian Creek teachers have been given clear homework guidelines for courses by grade level, as well as for AP versus non-AP courses.  There will be no homework for half-period courses. All of this shifts the focus of the academic day into making the most of our on-campus time, while reducing the stress of homework outside of school.

    Of course, the pace of a course is necessarily faster when it is 15 weeks instead of 30 to 35 weeks. However, a student will take at most three courses with homework at any one time. Therefore, less cognitive “switching” is required when one must complete two to three longer homework assignments in a day, versus six to seven shorter assignments in disparate subjects. Fewer subjects are also easier to keep track of.
  • A 9:00 a.m. drop-off time will be difficult for my family. Can my child come to school earlier? 

    Students may arrive to school as early as 7:00 a.m. Supervised morning care is available to students in grades 7 and 8 from 7:00 - 8:50 a.m. Older students may report to one of several designated quiet study hall areas before 8:00 a.m. Many optional activities, both academic and otherwise, will be available in the hour before school as well. 

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List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • What Professional Development have teachers had to design effective 80 minute classes?

    ICS teachers have been teaching 80 minute double-period classes for years. They have looked forward to these blocks in the schedule as times when they have the opportunity to dive deep into project based instruction.

    Specific PD about teaching block periods has already begun and will continue throughout the summer.  Upper School faculty member Lindsey Synhaeve led a workshop on this theme during teachers' June 8 PD day.  ICS faculty will continue to learn with required PD over the summer. Block scheduling and project-based learning will also be a focus of Indian Creek's teacher week in the fall.
  • Can Indian Creek students take courses at colleges and universities for high school credit?

    In many cases, yes! If a course is not available at Indian Creek, a student may take that course at an accredited college or university. Note that Indian Creek does not cover tuition, textbooks, or other expenses for such courses. If the course is in-person, it must fit in the student’s schedule during the relevant modules.

    Just as with Global Online Academy, named course requirements, such as US History or Algebra II, cannot be taken through Global Online Academy. Approval for the course is granted on a case-by-case basis. Please submit a syllabus to the Upper School Head at least two weeks before registering for the course. Certain types of courses, such as enrichment courses, or “000” level math courses, will not receive credit.
  • How will college admission offices view the modular schedule?

    College admission officers look at end results: courses taken and grades on the transcript to assess a student’s performance, not at the school's schedule structure.

    Every transcript is sent with an Indian Creek School Profile that gives an overview of the academic and Co-Curricular programs at ICS. Our college counseling team updates the school profile annually to ensure that colleges have an accurate picture of the opportunities available and high standards of the Indian Creek program.

    We expect that the opportunities for highly specialized learning experiences provided through the mod schedule, as well as the capacity for deeper projects and internships will be appealing to admission offices and distinguish ICS student applications.
  • Can Indian Creek students take courses at colleges and universities for high school credit?

    In many cases, yes! If a course is not available at Indian Creek, a student may take that course at an accredited college or university. Note that Indian Creek does not cover tuition, textbooks, or other expenses for such courses. If the course is in-person, it must fit in the student’s schedule during the relevant modules.

    Just as with Global Online Academy, named course requirements, such as US History or Algebra II, cannot be taken through Global Online Academy. Approval for the course is granted on a case-by-case basis. Please submit a syllabus to the Upper School Head at least two weeks before registering for the course. Certain types of courses, such as enrichment courses, or “000” level math courses, will not receive credit.
  • Do Global Online Academy courses satisfy core requirements in Arts, English, Math, etc.?

    Some GOA courses satisfy core requirements, while other GOA courses satisfy elective requirements for graduation. Named course requirements, such as US History or Algebra II, cannot be taken through Global Online Academy. Global Online Academy courses for credit are limited to students in grades 10, 11, and 12. Click here for more information.
  • What are some other benefits of a modular system?

    The benefits of a modular schedule are many.  Students who would prefer to continue learning virtually in fall 2020 will be able to do so much more easily with fewer, longer classes.  All students and teachers will be able to transition between distance learning and on campus learning smoothly if necessary.  Athletes can participate in more clubs.  Year-round athletes can now take SAT/ACT prep courses.  Because teachers have more time with fewer students, they will have the ability to build deeper connections and tailor their teaching to each student. 

The research is compelling.

Block scheduling: A catalyst for change in high school. Canady, R.L. & Rettig, M.D. (1995). Princeton, NJ: Eye on Education.

Block Scheduling: Innovations with Time: THEMES IN EDUCATION Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory, A Program of The Education Alliance at Brown University; Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education

Independent School Management article: "How Much Time is Enough?” Ideas & Perspectives, vol. 32 no. 5:
  • ISM's examination of research on time, and observations in many schools supports the belief that taking fewer longer classes at a time leads to deeper learning.
  • When teaching in-depth (rather than breadth) takes place in classrooms, students suffer less short-term memory loss and little long-term memory loss.
  • In-depth teaching is typically associated with more intense experiences and varied teaching approaches carried out in longer class periods.
"Anecdotal accounts of students' language retention seem to point out that the loss of language is no greater after a one or two semester break than it would be after the summer recess. Canady and Rettig quote research dealing with retention rates at the college level: "Students retain 85% of what they had originally learned after 4 months and 80% of what they had originally learned after 11 months." Students tend to forget factual information quickly but have significantly higher retention rate with information they learned through critical thinking because the information is not just memorized but internalized.
 

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"As a parent, I can honestly say I am Very excited for this new schedule. I think it is genius for High School and everyone will love it." ~ Class of 2022 Parent

"We are very excited about the fall and the new schedule. We believe that it is best for learning. It’s going to really benefit both of our daughters learning styles." ~ Classes of 2024 & 2022 Parent