ACDS students are challenged to explore, reflect, collaborate, solve open-ended problems, and take increasing, age-appropriate responsibility for their own learning.  Read Alexandra and Jack’s stories below to learn how.



Alexandra and three of her first grade classmates are engaged in some serious negotiation around a pile of paper plates, pipe cleaners, foam trays, paper clips, and tape.  They’ve been tasked with designing a container with a handle that will carry at least four apples using only the materials provided.  Their initial design plan isn’t working as expected and they all have different ideas as to how to fix it.  After much discussion and some trial and error, the group completes their design and successfully carries not just four, but ten apples in their container. 

Hands-on, experiential lessons are commonplace in ACDS classrooms at all grade levels.  From center time in Kindergarten, to Colonial Day in second grade, to participating in a Silk Road simulations in fifth grade, to building a SeaPerch Remotely Operated Vehicle in sixth grade, to using a room-sized coordinate plane to create human graphs of linear functions in seventh grade, students are active and engaged participants in their learning.


img_9176-web Jack

In the seventh grade history classroom, Jack prepares for class by adjusting the height of his desk.  He’s decided to stand, so his ergonomic stool sits unused behind him.  The desks are in a u-shape as Mr. Girard leads an all-class discussion on feudalism, and then instructs the class to break up into groups of four.  After quickly wheeling his desk over to his team, Jack lowers it to a seated height, grabs a stool, and gets to work. 

In all Middle School classrooms, students utilize adjustable sit/stand desks.  The health benefits that come with not having to sit all day are well-documented, but the added agency these desks give students over their learning is perhaps an even more beneficial feature.  Each student is empowered to determine which position allows him or her to be the most engaged and attentive at any given moment, and both students and teachers alike have seen the positive impact in the classroom.

Lower School students sit on ergonomically designed Hokki stools.  Rounded on the bottom, the stools build core strength and allow for movement, which increases student focus and on-task behaviors, as well as improves physical health– and the kids love them!