The Bay School of San Francisco

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Immersives

Overview
Since Bay’s first fall in 2004, an innovative schedule has driven the student experience. Bay’s faculty and staff continue to innovate our schedule and program with attention to the educational watchwords of the 21st century: integrated, authentic, innovative, and flexible. Some of our primary goals include increasing opportunities for experiential, project-based, and interdisciplinary learning while maintaining our strengths in the acquisition of foundational skills and a reasonable pace to the year. 
 
In 2018, after thorough research including input from parents and students, and review of dynamic schedule models from around the country, Bay launched Schedule 2.0, a new schedule that includes more expansive blocks of time for true 21st century learning with time for work off campus, opportunities to engage with experts in a given field, and the ability to focus on extended projects.
 
 
Immersive Terms
In a semester schedule, Immersives occur twice per year for three weeks at a time. In each of these three-week terms, one in January and one in late May/early June, students take a single academic course for a grade and credit, all day every day for three weeks. Known as “J-term” at the college level, these courses of extended study provide great variety and depth for students. Courses include a ninth grade course on immigration and the impact of economics, politics, geography, and society on a family's decision to emigrate; a tenth grade course in which students attempt to answer, "Why do we still read Shakespeare?," by exploring the themes and values from Shakespeare's works that permeate our world and partnering with theater professionals create their own adaptations "unbound" from historical context; a Buddhism course in which students study Buddhist teachings and philosophy, practice mindfulness and meditation, and visit local Buddhist communities to hear from practitioners; and, Mathematics of Democracy, in which students study current and proposed voting and representation schemes through a mathematical lens to understand how an individual or group can make decisions and impact policy.
 
Experience Immersives at Bay
Imagine learning about politics by meeting politicians, experiencing Shakespeare by creating your own films or staging your own play, understanding the history and ecology of our state through multi-day field trips and field research, or discovering more about science by conducting your own scientific research. Immersive courses are designed from the ground up to be unlike any academic course you have ever taken. They focus on experiences, and connecting, not on sitting still in class or memorizing “stuff.”
 
Go deep, get outside the classroom, and undertake ambitious projects and as you build, create, inquire, explore, and connect with others.
 
 
Frequently Asked Questions
 
What is an Immersive course?
An Immersive meets for the equivalent number of hours as a semester course. Each Immersive course carries the same academic weight as a semester course. The kinds of teaching and learning that occur in each term differ, but the academic richness is the same. Immersive courses are affiliated with academic departments — often in interdisciplinary ways — and fulfill graduation requirements in those departments just as a semester-long course does.
 
What kind of travel opportunities do you offer during Immersive terms?
Travel opportunities tend to be limited in most high school schedules by the fact that students are taking multiple courses at a time: travel must happen either during vacations, therefore often disconnected from academic learning, or during the term itself, pulling students away from class time in other courses. Immersives allow for a much better solution. Travel can be an integral part of an academic course without impacting a student’s other courses. A course on natural history can spend multiple days at a field research station in the Sierra. Students in a course on American culture can immerse themselves in communities outside of California. In keeping with Bay’s values, all courses are accessible to all students regardless of flexible-tuition status.
 
How does service learning factor into Immersive terms?
Teens need to be connected to communities outside their school’s walls and gain appreciation for their privilege and the value of helping others. Research has shown that one of the best ways to make service meaningful and impactful is to connect that learning deeply with a student’s academic coursework. We are excited to have the time during Immersive courses to get students off campus for service projects connected to their coursework. Whether learning about homelessness through internships, doing ecological restoration as they learn about hydrology, or performing their Shakespeare interpretations for middle schools or retirement homes, students engage with their communities.