Signature programs

Discover, Imagine, Venture, and Explore (D.I.V.E)

Shelton Academy’s D.I.V.E. is a unique marine biology and life science experience and the only program of its kind in the city of Doral!

D.I.V.E. incorporates:

  • Weekly hands-on study sessions at school
  • Maintenance of Sea-Scope Tank
  • Leadership Training
  • Field Study Trips
  • Lab Experiments
  • Family Camping Trips

The goal of the program is to achieve academic excellence through experiential learning. Enhancing the curriculum taught at Shelton, biologist apprentices participate in weekly hands-on study sessions where they apply scientific techniques while learning about marine sciences.

D.I.V.E. courses are entwined within Shelton’s curriculum with the purpose of nurturing marine biologists through discoveries, experiences, excursions, and encounters in order to promote environmental stewardship.

Study Sessions

  • Coastal nature hikes and explorations
  • Critter-catching using seine nets and bottom nets
  • Plankton collection using nets
  • Kayak adventures
  • Snorkeling excursions
  • Animal encounters
  • Visits to lab and animal rehabilitation centers
  • Camping trips

Sea-Scope Tank

D.I.V.E. incorporates the maintenance and care of the school’s Sea-Scope Tank. This lab portion of the program allows students to learn about water quality, biochemistry, lab techniques, and animal husbandry through hands-on activities and experiments. Teachers and students are responsible for the maintenance, animal care, and water quality of our Sea-Scope Tank. Students are also involved in the tracking information and data analysis collected during the Sea-Scope labs.

Learning Outcomes

Students participating in D.I.V.E. are expected to:

  • Understand and apply fundamental theories and concepts of the biological and environmental sciences
  • Develop inquiry and observational skills to formulate scientific questions
  • Understand and develop basic experimental methodology, including the proper use of scientific analysis
  • Evaluate evidence critically
  • Communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing
  • Research scientific literature using print and electronic resources
  • Understand the ethics and environmental impacts of student and societal actions. Provide tools for marine life scientists to find resources with information on current research, news, etc. and to highlight the impact of their work in the marine life sciences.

Nature Postings

D.I.V.E. operates in conjunction with Nature Postings, Inc., established with the purpose of embracing nature and education through hands-on study sessions, interpretive programs, camping trips, retreats, encounters, adventures, camps, celebrations, and more! The curriculum incorporates multidisciplinary approaches to the study and appreciation of nature and science, creating experiences that l allows participants to decode the unspoken language of it. D.I.V.E.  teachers create unique adventures and discoveries for all participants fueled by their passion for education and their desire to incorporate nature as their classroom. The Nature Postings Squad is trained in multidisciplinary sciences and techniques. Their primary goal is to decode nature’s posting messages and teach the students the knowledge of nature’s voice.

“We want our kids to learn, not memorize; we want them to explore and be engaged. We want them to be in a nurturing environment where they can spend quality hours. Academically, they are excelling and seeing the same material they would at any other top school but with the difference that they use technology, arts and music to integrate the kids’ learning. We recommend Shelton to anyone looking for a well-rounded curriculum and safe environment for their kids.”

Natalia Echeverri, Parent

D.I.V.E. is run in conjunction with Nature Postings, Inc., established with the purpose of embracing nature and education through hands-on study sessions, interpretive programs, camping trips, retreats, encounters, adventures, camps, celebrations and more! The curriculum incorporates multidisciplinary approaches to the study and enjoyment of nature and science, creating experiences that will allow participants to decode the unspoken language of it.

The teachers create the most superb quality of unique adventures and discoveries our participants could ever have! They are passionate about education and love to use nature as their classroom. The NP Squad is trained in multidisciplinary sciences and techniques, and their most important goal is to decode nature’s postings messages and teach the students the knowledge of nature’s voice.

“We want our kids to learn, not memorize; we want them to explore and be engaged. We want them to be in a nurturing environment where they can spend quality hours. Academically, they are excelling and seeing the same material they would at any other top school but with the difference that they use technology, arts and music to integrate the kids learning. We recommend Shelton to anyone looking for a well-rounded curriculum and safe environment for their kids.”

Natalia Echeverri, Parent

Marvel. Illuminate. Notice. Dream. Share. (MINDS)

MINDS is a program focused on human anthropology and one that was designed to give students the opportunity to learn how civilization and expression of culture is interconnected with art history, music, and architecture. MINDS has been created in collaboration with the Prado Museum and the University of Navarra, in Spain. The purpose of MINDS is to foster the love of art and culture through dynamic classes strategically adapted to fit each grade level. The history of art is reinforced through creative and imaginative projects. Inspired by the philosophy of Reggio Emilia. The objective of this program is to learn about various artists and their respective time periods in order to gain an understanding behind the inspiration for their works. Students can begin to conceptualize the connection between various time periods and build upon the array of methods that have been created in conjunction with occurrences in history. Students learn different artistic techniques and the process of creating realistic images.

The curriculum for MINDS is designed by the Prado Museum and has been adapted specifically for Shelton Academy. Each month, students have the opportunity to engage in live digital conferences with the Prado Museum and the University of Navarra where they will receive  consistent support and additional guidance from trained professionals.

Model United Nations

Model United Nations (MUN), through Global Classrooms, is an innovative program that affords middle school students an exposure to the latest developments in political, economic, and social fields. Global Classrooms give students the opportunity to discuss and debate through interactive simulations and curricular materials, helping build future leaders and citizens of the world. MUN provides an exciting opportunity for students to role-play as delegates to the United Nations and to simulate UN committees. As an MUN member, students participate in the international conference in New York City—the largest in the world—and have the opportunity to collaborate with hundreds of students from across the country and around the globe. The “delegates” make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the MUN conference rules of procedure—all in the interest of mobilizing international cooperation to resolve problems that affect countries all over the world. In the past, Shelton Academy delegates have been honored with two Best Position Paper awards, an Honorable Mention for Distinguished Performance, and received special recognition for Outstanding Delegate. We invite you to visit the following links for additional information and to learn about past MUN experiences:

Mentoring

Our school is committed to offering a personalized and comprehensive education that enables students to achieve their fullest potential. Mentoring allows us to personalize our mission. It is the way we empower our students and help them with their individual needs. The goal is to mold our students into responsible, happy, and loving individuals. Through one-on-one conversations mentors encourage students to strive for academic excellence and to serve others through good deeds. The objective is for them to use their unique personal qualities to innovatively change the world for the better. Mentoring ensures each mentee feels understood, cared for, and positively challenged. Each student is assigned a trained Shelton faculty/staff member as a personal mentor. The mentor works together with the student to set realistic, challenging goals, along with the means to achieve said goals.

Some topics typically discussed during mentoring conversations include:

  • School work
  • Academics and the importance of doing one’s work well
  • Study habits and the love of learning
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Self-knowledge
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Etiquette and human refinement skills
  • Social skills
  • Friendships and relationships
  • Care for one’s own family and respect for all
  • Responsibilities inside and outside the classroom
  • Formation and development of character
  • Time management
  • Integrity
  • Appropriate use of technology
  • Aspirations, hopes, dreams, and motivations
  • Worries and concerns

Mentoring is tailored education!

Electives

We provide a multitude of options for students to broaden their educational horizons and expose them to a variety of options.

Middle School Electives:

Model United Nations (MUN)

Model United Nations is a simulation of the UN General Assembly and other multilateral bodies. In Model UN, students step into the shoes of ambassadors from UN member countries to debate current issues on the organization’s agenda. While playing the roles as ambassadors, student “delegates” make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the Model UN conference rules of procedure – all in the interest of mobilizing international cooperation to resolve problems that affect countries all over the world.  Annually, the city of New York welcomes thousands of students from hundreds of countries for the world’s largest MUN conference. This event takes place at the end of March and our delegates have the opportunity to participate for four days in this unforgettable event.

Logic and Strategy

In this class we discuss informal logic and different ways to recognize bad reasoning.  We use real life examples and analyze whether there is a fallacy or not. On the weeks that we discuss strategy, we do so by playing games that involve strategy. The first day we play, and on the second we add interjections to the game. This in order to discuss the different approaches and how applying different strategies can lead to competitive advantages. We discuss how some people play to win and others play to not lose. As well as how different decisions made during the game can reflect an individual approach to the game. These sorts of topics help instill in students a plethora of skills that will benefit them later in their lives.

Orchestra Workshop

The Orchestra Workshop course teaches students the structure, history, development, components, and performance of Symphony Orchestra. This class is also designed with the purpose of teaching students the cultural and social impact of Symphony Orchestra in the history of western society. It encourages students to serve as facilitators of Shelton Academy’s Symphony Orchestra. Ideally, all members of this class participate in the creative process of the orchestra as facilitators, musicians, and logistics assistants. Course content includes:

  1. Components of symphony orchestra
  2. Instrument sections of symphony orchestra
  3. History of symphony orchestra
  4. Repertoire for symphony orchestra
  5. Instrument performance
  6. Roles

Art for Life

Art for Life is a class designed for students to identify themselves with what they paint. On this course they learn to personalize their work, learning to believe, and value what they do and what they are capable of doing. Art for Life helps them develop their creativity and self-confidence.

Historical Biographies

Historical Biographies provide us with both a snapshot and a background to the social and political histories of the analytical method, whilst coloring and outlining it with reality. While this is of some academic interest, biography also creates a far more engaging and livelier platform for historical interest.

Chess Masters

This course provides the students with knowledge of the fundamentals of the game of chess. In this class they study all the piece movements, most common opening and closing strategies. It is a practical course where students compete amongst themselves and with others.

High School Electives:

Cinema

The twentieth century witnessed the evolution of cinema from visual art to a highly profitable business. The twenty-first century has on its hands the opportunity to rebuild the cultural development of this art. This course will help students to understand and then create the language of cinematography. Acquiring awareness of the impact of cinema in society will prepare them to be more awake in a market that prefers that they be passive and more proactive to generate a positive impact through this art. The main objective is to teach students how to communicate effectively through stories. Students improve their awareness regarding messages in cinema and/or television. They also develop a set of skills that allow them to navigate successfully through the society of communication.

Human & Artificial Intelligence

Technology is evolving faster than ever in human history. Thus, new tools, resources, and scenarios are able to be provided to our students. The world in which these students live is advancing and technology will have a fundamental role in its further development. This course aims to prepare our students to understand and apply the logic and schemes of technology and its role in creating a better world.

Leadership Skills I&II

The aim of this course is the professional development of the student. The objectives include: the development of the student’s critical thinking and analysis capability, team building and collaborative practice techniques, as well as the development of leadership skills using research based and innovative learning pedagogy. All employed in order to provide the students with the essential soft skills (core/essential) for their future.

Storytelling

From Aristotle to Hollywood to, day by day social media usage, stories are the most effective way of conveying a message. Storytelling is a sought-after skill and one of the most appreciated in the current job market. Desired in industries ranging from communications, to marketing, to entertainment, to many more. The techniques required to create an impactful story are readily available for those who want to master them. This elective subject uses active learning methodologies to provide our students with the knowledge and skills of the best storytellers.  Those who create meaningful messages reach meaningful audiences.

ASSEMBLIES

Formal Monday Assemblies are part of the Shelton Experience. Every Monday morning the entire student body along with faculty gather in the “Piazza” for time together that includes reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, singing of the National Anthem, a brief presentation from the Headmaster, and general announcements led by our Student Government.

Houses

Similar to many traditional English schools, Shelton Academy is divided into four houses. Each house represents values and ideals aligned with the mission of our school. Siblings are typically assigned to the same house. The Houses of Shelton serve many important purposes such as communicating and encouraging a grasp of the school’s ideals. These strengthen the enthusiasm and spirit for Shelton Academy. They also serve to build community and develop a strong sense of belonging through tradition. They encourage leadership and school pride at, for example via House competitions. These events are “rallying points” throughout the year and are marked by festival days that include championships and spirited games.

Our Shelton Academy Houses are:

  • House of Valor: Representing courage and caring
  • House of Amicus: Representing forgiveness and friendship
  • House of Fidelis: Representing leadership and loyalty
  • House of Persisto: Representing perseverance and patience

Honors Program

The Honors program offers well rounded educational experiences to meet the needs and abilities of the students it serves. It provides a focus of highly regarded standards of excellence for students and faculty. The Honors Program curriculum features special courses and experiential learning opportunities. Furthermore, is designed so that honor requirements can also satisfy general education requirements. Admissions into the Honors Program is a rigorous endeavor reserved for highly motivated students whose academic abilities and talents span across the entire curriculum spectrum. To qualify for the Honors Program, students must have exceptional performance in regular classes in addition to an NPR or LPR greater than 90% on a local standardized test administered within that calendar year. The criteria for the selection of honors faculty include exceptional teaching skills, the ability to provide intellectual leadership and mentoring, and demonstrated support for the mission of the Honors Program.

Spiritual Life

Education at Shelton Academy encompasses the use of the mind and soul. Religion is a required course at every grade level. The formation of our student’s Catholic identity is a priority and is ever present throughout every activity. Masses are offered on several occasions during the span of the school year as well as regular opportunities to access the Sacrament of Confession, faculty and parent supervised service projects, and various charitable outreach programs that benefit those most in need within our community. These programs and opportunities allow students to materialize their faith into practice. Note that the prayers and Catholic traditions that are practiced at Shelton Academy are in accordance with the liturgical calendar.

Honor Society

The National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) recognizes students for their achievements in the areas of scholarship, character, leadership, and service. Membership is an ongoing responsibility and obligation to continue demonstrating these outstanding qualities, which result in a students’ selection. As part of their ongoing commitment to the values of NJHS, students participate in various community service projects throughout the year.

Teaching in COVID time. T-COVID-T

COVID

Our classrooms, a few years ago, were filled with digital blackboards and computers. Slides and transparencies were swept away by presentations and multimedia audio-visuals that allowed a greater degree of user interaction with the teaching materials. However, in the end, the “technologicalization” of teaching consisted of a change in means, not methods, since the foundations of our system of face-to-face education remained the same. In learning a language, for instance, the classic method of grammar and translation was not changed by the use of a digital dictionary instead of a paper one. Traditional teaching, based on the deductive and, partially, the inductive method[1], is essentially characterized by:

  • The study (of grammar, history, etc.).
  • The use of written language.
  • Rote learning.

This is what is usually encouraged from the classrooms. From the second half of the last century, with the typical structural-behavioral approaches of the inductive method (more focused on stimulus-response processes emphasized by feedback and reinforcement), mechanical, repetitive exercises are introduced, which avoid an excess of previous theoretical explanations, and which start from the assumption that the students learn “automatically” after having carried out a sufficient number of exercises. All of them are generally based on:

  • Learning as habit-forming.
  • The use of oral language.
  • The introduction of the context

Finally, task-based approaches, which are based on the use of contextualized models, working with authentic documents and learning within a comprehensive cultural system, also found their way into our classrooms, but in a rather testimonial way. Teaching has continued to be, methodologically speaking, mainly deductive, with some inductive traces and small touches of transversality described -more than included- in competence-based learning[2].

However, our students have changed the way they learn. They are digital natives: technology is part of their lives, just as electric light was part of our grandparents’ lives. Their minds do not conceive of a non-technological world, as ours did not conceive that in order to wash, one would have to draw water from a well with a manual water pump. The act of learning, like that of washing, remains essentially the same, but to expect the digital natives to learn through textbook study, memory, and repetition is almost like asking them to draw water from a well to wash.

Online learning promotes access to content and communications, facilitates cooperative learning and exchange, and at the same time allows for individualization of teaching-learning.

Adopting a model of online education, even in the face of a pandemic, is an opportunity to get closer to our students by adapting the didactics. Within the Pedagogy, it is in charge of establishing the most appropriate procedures to guarantee the transmission of knowledge: techniques, activities, exercises, everything that, in each area, is understood as methodology.

Now, although didactics in classroom environments is quite different from that applied in virtual environments, in both environments the educator, the expert in the subject and the expert in performing the didactic transposition (the process that goes from “theoretical knowledge” to “taught knowledge”)[3], is the teacher.

What we have seen these days is that our teachers, experts without a doubt in their subjects and in the didactics of face-to-face classes, have been forced overnight to deal with that other online didactics for which not everyone was prepared, revealing, moreover, their own hidden training: “the methodological and didactic strategies that have been suffered, experienced and assimilated throughout one’s biography, starting in childhood, in the student years, and which, when one is a teacher, can appear unconsciously”. [4]

As with learning styles, where the classroom favors the theoretical and visual, this traditional hidden training can have a negative influence when addressing online teaching. Without forgetting the most important thing: in the online modality, the other active agent of the process, the student, has to get involved freely and voluntarily in his learning, which is opposed to the model of our classrooms, based on authority and compulsory.

Online teaching consists of a “mediated” model, that is, it uses the computer or other devices as a means of communication and information exchange between people: students and teachers. Its success depends on how both are involved, but also on the teaching materials, and a good pedagogical model, based on the principles of active learning, collaborative, autonomous, interactive, comprehensive, with relevant and creative activities or tasks, and a continuous and educational evaluation.

This “mediated” model of online teaching favors access to content and communications; it facilitates cooperative learning and exchange, and at the same time allows for individualization of the teaching-learning: the student sees his or her autonomy increased and controls his or her own pace and schedule. Moreover, since the computer integrates multiple tools (texts, images, videos, audios) the student can develop at the same time diverse skills through a wide variety of exercises and activities; these admit the repetition according to the needs of the student without external pressures, and with this they reduce inhibition, lower the fear of intervening and the anxiety produced by the fear of making mistakes.

The technology allows for immediate and personalized corrections and feedback. But it also presents certain risks: dispersion, the feeling of loneliness and the feeling that the effort to be made is excessive. The teacher must ensure that these risks are minimized, both as a group and individually: for him, this also involves a not inconsiderable effort. He or she becomes a facilitator, counselor, supervisor, moderator, examiner, motivator, evaluator, and even a support technician. He has enormous freedom to give examples, explain, clarify doubts, create didactic itineraries, propose tasks or debates, etc. However, this freedom does not match the rigidity of classroom programming and textbooks, nor is it easy to give continuity and follow up on what was being done in class on an online platform. The move from classroom learning to online learning during confinement does not mean the move from the face-to-face model to the virtual model.

A crisis such as the one we are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic since schools were closed without there being, on the part of the educational authorities, enough time to establish guidelines or draw up a minimum plan of action, confronts us precisely with what is not essential to carry out such elementary actions as washing or learning.

Going, then, to the essential, in any of its modalities the teaching-learning process consists of an exchange of information and skills between people (in which, if it is at a distance, we must bear in mind the digital gap that still exists in the student body). These people are mostly students in a stage of compulsory schooling, and teachers with little expertise in handling virtual media; and the information to be exchanged is basically contained in textbooks. Difficult transit.

How to adapt compulsory education in the classroom to an online system.

As a teacher with many years of experience in virtual environments, I was very clear from the beginning that the objective could not be a change in the educational paradigm, but to continue, as possible and maintaining similar patterns of work, the classroom course interrupted by a distressing health emergency. With only one term left to the end of the academic year, what can be done to adapt compulsory classroom education to an online system?

The temptation, and the easiest thing, would have been to set tasks and let each student take charge for a while of their training as a self-taught person: to continue advancing on their own, each with their own texts, separately and at home. Many teachers planned it this way in the first two weeks of confinement. But as the alarm period was extended, it became necessary to advance in content and evaluate it.

Technology applied to education allows immediate and personalized corrections and feedback. But it also presents certain risks: dispersion, the feeling of loneliness and the feeling that the effort to be made is excessive. The teacher must ensure that these risks are minimized.

In a confined situation, the materials on physical supports are not useful for this, because they do not allow interaction. The priority, then, was to find a channel and a space for that interaction. On the last day of school before the closure of the schools, three urgent decisions had to be made:

1. Determine the communication channel. After some initial confusion, among the many possibilities online, most teachers opted for the simplest: email. Just by asking students to write down the teacher’s email address to provide them with the email account they would use to work on those days, two important things were achieved: the first, to maintain interaction with each and every student from the very day of the closing; and the second, that the students themselves would be involved, instead of having to go to the official school lists, where what appear are the home or work accounts of the parents.

2. Set the meeting space that replaces the classroom, that is, create a virtual community that allows the cohesion of the groups, the participation of all students and a certain atmosphere of security and, as far as possible, of “normality” (without forgetting the distress of the health situation). The board of a virtual platform free access, as Google Classroom serves as a “blackboard” where to perform common practices. Finally, in an educational center there are “corridors”, “playgrounds” or “canteens”. It is the teacher’s task to try, as much as possible, to make the communication between the students and him/her as similar as possible to those brief corridor interviews (to explain why they have not been able to deliver an assignment on time or to access the virtual classroom for a few days) in a private way; as well as to favor moments of relaxation in the group, such as those that take place between class changes, or in the courtyard. A virtual classroom is not a jocular group chat, but it should also channel formulas for rest, relaxation and joviality in the group.

3. Establish the didactic resources. To give continuity to the class work using the habitual text books would be the obvious thing, but would all the students have them? Would they have had time to take them with them or would the drawers and lockers be full of photocopies, manuals, notebooks and books abandoned in the stampede? And even if most of them had them with them, there would be a percentage of students who had been confined to second homes or towns by the state of alarm, or with their non-custodial parents in cases of family separation, some might be sick?

Given such a range of possibilities, the most reasonable thing to do is to unify and make use of materials specific to that situation, which are easy to handle, respond to and evaluate. Because it is not a problem of content, so easily accessible on the Internet: the data is just a click away from each hand. It is about saving the essential: people who meet to think, collaborate, share information. It’s about debate, laughter, jokes. That is what we are learning to value in these times of confinement.

All this generates the T-COVID-T Project, teaching in COVID time.

This Project raises the main objective of teaching in the classroom, face to face, with students online.

This project starts in Shelton Academy at the end of August, with very clear specific objectives:

  1. To train the teachers of the school to face both modalities, in person and online at the same time.
  2. To prepare the other actors in the process who are natural mediators: the parents of the students.
  3.  Teach students to be part of this dual system..
  4. Google Classroom as the backbone of the educational duality, and Zoom as an online visualization agent.

The project is underway two months after it began. The shooting of the educational experiences are being collected. Later on we will make an analysis of what we have experienced so far, because we are sure that this is a replicable Model, where many educational institutions could take from our experiences. Shelton did not cross hands, and we continue to work proactively to achieve and exceed our educational standards.


References.

[1] According to the contents of the Online Spanish Tutor Training program (FONTE: 7§2).
[2] Order ECD/65/2015, of January 21, which describes the relationships between the competencies, contents and evaluation criteria of Primary Education, Compulsory Secondary Education and Bachillerato.
[3] Contents of the program Online Training of Spanish Tutors (FONTE: 7§2).
[4] J. Díaz-Corralejo (2004): Aportaciones de la Didáctica de las lenguas y las culturas. In Vademecum for the training of teachers. Madrid, SGEL.

Signature programs

Discover, Imagine, Venture, and Explore (D.I.V.E)

Shelton Academy’s D.I.V.E. is a unique marine biology and life science experience and the only program of its kind in the city of Doral!

D.I.V.E. incorporates:

  • Weekly hands-on study sessions at school
  • Maintenance of Sea-Scope Tank
  • Leadership Training
  • Field Study Trips
  • Lab Experiments
  • Family Camping Trips

The goal of the program is to achieve academic excellence through experiential learning. Enhancing the curriculum taught at Shelton, biologist apprentices participate in weekly hands-on study sessions where they apply scientific techniques while learning about marine sciences.

D.I.V.E. courses are entwined within Shelton’s curriculum with the purpose of nurturing marine biologists through discoveries, experiences, excursions, and encounters in order to promote environmental stewardship.

Study Sessions

  • Coastal nature hikes and explorations
  • Critter-catching using seine nets and bottom nets
  • Plankton collection using nets
  • Kayak adventures
  • Snorkeling excursions
  • Animal encounters
  • Visits to lab and animal rehabilitation centers
  • Camping trips

Sea-Scope Tank

D.I.V.E. incorporates the maintenance and care of the school’s Sea-Scope Tank. This lab portion of the program allows students to learn about water quality, biochemistry, lab techniques, and animal husbandry through hands-on activities and experiments. Teachers and students are responsible for the maintenance, animal care, and water quality of our Sea-Scope Tank. Students are also involved in the tracking information and data analysis collected during the Sea-Scope labs.

Learning Outcomes

Students participating in D.I.V.E. are expected to:

  • Understand and apply fundamental theories and concepts of the biological and environmental sciences
  • Develop inquiry and observational skills to formulate scientific questions
  • Understand and develop basic experimental methodology, including the proper use of scientific analysis
  • Evaluate evidence critically
  • Communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing
  • Research scientific literature using print and electronic resources
  • Understand the ethics and environmental impacts of student and societal actions. Provide tools for marine life scientists to find resources with information on current research, news, etc. and to highlight the impact of their work in the marine life sciences.

Nature Postings

D.I.V.E. operates in conjunction with Nature Postings, Inc., established with the purpose of embracing nature and education through hands-on study sessions, interpretive programs, camping trips, retreats, encounters, adventures, camps, celebrations, and more! The curriculum incorporates multidisciplinary approaches to the study and appreciation of nature and science, creating experiences that l allows participants to decode the unspoken language of it. D.I.V.E.  teachers create unique adventures and discoveries for all participants fueled by their passion for education and their desire to incorporate nature as their classroom. The Nature Postings Squad is trained in multidisciplinary sciences and techniques. Their primary goal is to decode nature’s posting messages and teach the students the knowledge of nature’s voice.

“We want our kids to learn, not memorize; we want them to explore and be engaged. We want them to be in a nurturing environment where they can spend quality hours. Academically, they are excelling and seeing the same material they would at any other top school but with the difference that they use technology, arts and music to integrate the kids’ learning. We recommend Shelton to anyone looking for a well-rounded curriculum and safe environment for their kids.”

Natalia Echeverri, Parent

“We want our kids to learn, not memorize; we want them to explore and be engaged. We want them to be in a nurturing environment where they can spend quality hours. Academically, they are excelling and seeing the same material they would at any other top school but with the difference that they use technology, arts and music to integrate the kids learning. We recommend Shelton to anyone looking for a well-rounded curriculum and safe environment for their kids.”

Natalia Echeverri, Parent

Marvel. Illuminate. Notice. Dream. Share.(MINDS)

MINDS is a program focused on human anthropology and one that was designed to give students the opportunity to learn how civilization and expression of culture is interconnected with art history, music, and architecture. MINDS has been created in collaboration with the Prado Museum and the University of Navarra, in Spain. The purpose of MINDS is to foster the love of art and culture through dynamic classes strategically adapted to fit each grade level. The history of art is reinforced through creative and imaginative projects. Inspired by the philosophy of Reggio Emilia. The objective of this program is to learn about various artists and their respective time periods in order to gain an understanding behind the inspiration for their works. Students can begin to conceptualize the connection between various time periods and build upon the array of methods that have been created in conjunction with occurrences in history. Students learn different artistic techniques and the process of creating realistic images.

The curriculum for MINDS is designed by the Prado Museum and has been adapted specifically for Shelton Academy. Each month, students have the opportunity to engage in live digital conferences with the Prado Museum and the University of Navarra where they will receive  consistent support and additional guidance from trained professionals.

Model United Nations

Model United Nations (MUN), through Global Classrooms, is an innovative program that affords middle school students an exposure to the latest developments in political, economic, and social fields. Global Classrooms give students the opportunity to discuss and debate through interactive simulations and curricular materials, helping build future leaders and citizens of the world. MUN provides an exciting opportunity for students to role-play as delegates to the United Nations and to simulate UN committees. As an MUN member, students participate in the international conference in New York City—the largest in the world—and have the opportunity to collaborate with hundreds of students from across the country and around the globe. The “delegates” make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the MUN conference rules of procedure—all in the interest of mobilizing international cooperation to resolve problems that affect countries all over the world. In the past, Shelton Academy delegates have been honored with two Best Position Paper awards, an Honorable Mention for Distinguished Performance, and received special recognition for Outstanding Delegate. We invite you to visit the following links for additional information and to learn about past MUN experiences:

Mentoring

Our school is committed to offering a personalized and comprehensive education that enables students to achieve their fullest potential. Mentoring allows us to personalize our mission. It is the way we empower our students and help them with their individual needs. The goal is to mold our students into responsible, happy, and loving individuals. Through one-on-one conversations mentors encourage students to strive for academic excellence and to serve others through good deeds. The objective is for them to use their unique personal qualities to innovatively change the world for the better. Mentoring ensures each mentee feels understood, cared for, and positively challenged. Each student is assigned a trained Shelton faculty/staff member as a personal mentor. The mentor works together with the student to set realistic, challenging goals, along with the means to achieve said goals.

Some topics typically discussed during mentoring conversations include:

  • School work
  • Academics and the importance of doing one’s work well
  • Study habits and the love of learning
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Self-knowledge
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Etiquette and human refinement skills
  • Social skills
  • Friendships and relationships
  • Care for one’s own family and respect for all
  • Responsibilities inside and outside the classroom
  • Formation and development of character
  • Time management
  • Integrity
  • Appropriate use of technology
  • Aspirations, hopes, dreams, and motivations
  • Worries and concerns

Mentoring is tailored education!

Electives

We provide a multitude of options for students to broaden their educational horizons and expose them to a variety of options.

Middle School Electives:

Model United Nations (MUN)

Model United Nations is a simulation of the UN General Assembly and other multilateral bodies. In Model UN, students step into the shoes of ambassadors from UN member countries to debate current issues on the organization’s agenda. While playing the roles as ambassadors, student “delegates” make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the Model UN conference rules of procedure – all in the interest of mobilizing international cooperation to resolve problems that affect countries all over the world.  Annually, the city of New York welcomes thousands of students from hundreds of countries for the world’s largest MUN conference. This event takes place at the end of March and our delegates have the opportunity to participate for four days in this unforgettable event.

Logic and Strategy

In this class we discuss informal logic and different ways to recognize bad reasoning.  We use real life examples and analyze whether there is a fallacy or not. On the weeks that we discuss strategy, we do so by playing games that involve strategy. The first day we play, and on the second we add interjections to the game. This in order to discuss the different approaches and how applying different strategies can lead to competitive advantages. We discuss how some people play to win and others play to not lose. As well as how different decisions made during the game can reflect an individual approach to the game. These sorts of topics help instill in students a plethora of skills that will benefit them later in their lives.

Orchestra Workshop

The Orchestra Workshop course teaches students the structure, history, development, components, and performance of Symphony Orchestra. This class is also designed with the purpose of teaching students the cultural and social impact of Symphony Orchestra in the history of western society. It encourages students to serve as facilitators of Shelton Academy’s Symphony Orchestra. Ideally, all members of this class participate in the creative process of the orchestra as facilitators, musicians, and logistics assistants. Course content includes:

  1. Components of symphony orchestra
  2. Instrument sections of symphony orchestra
  3. History of symphony orchestra
  4. Repertoire for symphony orchestra
  5. Instrument performance
  6. Roles

Art for Life

Art for Life is a class designed for students to identify themselves with what they paint. On this course they learn to personalize their work, learning to believe, and value what they do and what they are capable of doing. Art for Life helps them develop their creativity and self-confidence.

Historical Biographies

Historical Biographies provide us with both a snapshot and a background to the social and political histories of the analytical method, whilst coloring and outlining it with reality. While this is of some academic interest, biography also creates a far more engaging and livelier platform for historical interest.

Chess Masters

This course provides the students with knowledge of the fundamentals of the game of chess. In this class they study all the piece movements, most common opening and closing strategies. It is a practical course where students compete amongst themselves and with others.

High School Electives:

Cinema

The twentieth century witnessed the evolution of cinema from visual art to a highly profitable business. The twenty-first century has on its hands the opportunity to rebuild the cultural development of this art. This course will help students to understand and then create the language of cinematography. Acquiring awareness of the impact of cinema in society will prepare them to be more awake in a market that prefers that they be passive and more proactive to generate a positive impact through this art. The main objective is to teach students how to communicate effectively through stories. Students improve their awareness regarding messages in cinema and/or television. They also develop a set of skills that allow them to navigate successfully through the society of communication.

Human & Artificial Intelligence

Technology is evolving faster than ever in human history. Thus, new tools, resources, and scenarios are able to be provided to our students. The world in which these students live is advancing and technology will have a fundamental role in its further development. This course aims to prepare our students to understand and apply the logic and schemes of technology and its role in creating a better world.

Leadership Skills I&II

The aim of this course is the professional development of the student. The objectives include: the development of the student’s critical thinking and analysis capability, team building and collaborative practice techniques, as well as the development of leadership skills using research based and innovative learning pedagogy. All employed in order to provide the students with the essential soft skills (core/essential) for their future.

Storytelling

From Aristotle to Hollywood to, day by day social media usage, stories are the most effective way of conveying a message. Storytelling is a sought-after skill and one of the most appreciated in the current job market. Desired in industries ranging from communications, to marketing, to entertainment, to many more. The techniques required to create an impactful story are readily available for those who want to master them. This elective subject uses active learning methodologies to provide our students with the knowledge and skills of the best storytellers.  Those who create meaningful messages reach meaningful audiences.

ASSEMBLIES

Formal Monday Assemblies are part of the Shelton Experience. Every Monday morning the entire student body along with faculty gather in the “Piazza” for time together that includes reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, singing of the National Anthem, a brief presentation from the Headmaster, and general announcements led by our Student Government.

Similar to many traditional English schools, Shelton Academy is divided into four houses. Each house represents values and ideals aligned with the mission of our school. Siblings are typically assigned to the same house. The Houses of Shelton serve many important purposes such as communicating and encouraging a grasp of the school’s ideals. These strengthen the enthusiasm and spirit for Shelton Academy. They also serve to build community and develop a strong sense of belonging through tradition. They encourage leadership and school pride at, for example via House competitions. These events are “rallying points” throughout the year and are marked by festival days that include championships and spirited games.

Our Shelton Academy Houses are:

  • House of Valor: Representing courage and caring
  • House of Amicus: Representing forgiveness and friendship
  • House of Fidelis: Representing leadership and loyalty
  • House of Persisto: Representing perseverance and patience

Honors Program

The Honors program offers well rounded educational experiences to meet the needs and abilities of the students it serves. It provides a focus of highly regarded standards of excellence for students and faculty. The Honors Program curriculum features special courses and experiential learning opportunities. Furthermore, is designed so that honor requirements can also satisfy general education requirements. Admissions into the Honors Program is a rigorous endeavor reserved for highly motivated students whose academic abilities and talents span across the entire curriculum spectrum. To qualify for the Honors Program, students must have exceptional performance in regular classes in addition to an NPR or LPR greater than 90% on a local standardized test administered within that calendar year. The criteria for the selection of honors faculty include exceptional teaching skills, the ability to provide intellectual leadership and mentoring, and demonstrated support for the mission of the Honors Program.

Spiritual Life

Education at Shelton Academy encompasses the use of the mind and soul. Religion is a required course at every grade level. The formation of our student’s Catholic identity is a priority and is ever present throughout every activity. Masses are offered on several occasions during the span of the school year as well as regular opportunities to access the Sacrament of Confession, faculty and parent supervised service projects, and various charitable outreach programs that benefit those most in need within our community. These programs and opportunities allow students to materialize their faith into practice. Note that the prayers and Catholic traditions that are practiced at Shelton Academy are in accordance with the liturgical calendar.

Honor Society

The National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) recognizes students for their achievements in the areas of scholarship, character, leadership, and service. Membership is an ongoing responsibility and obligation to continue demonstrating these outstanding qualities, which result in a students’ selection. As part of their ongoing commitment to the values of NJHS, students participate in various community service projects throughout the year.

Teaching in COVID time. T-COVID-T

COVID

Our classrooms, a few years ago, were filled with digital blackboards and computers. Slides and transparencies were swept away by presentations and multimedia audio-visuals that allowed a greater degree of user interaction with the teaching materials. However, in the end, the “technologicalization” of teaching consisted of a change in means, not methods, since the foundations of our system of face-to-face education remained the same. In learning a language, for instance, the classic method of grammar and translation was not changed by the use of a digital dictionary instead of a paper one. Traditional teaching, based on the deductive and, partially, the inductive method[1], is essentially characterized by:

  • The study (of grammar, history, etc.).
  • The use of written language.
  • Rote learning.

This is what is usually encouraged from the classrooms. From the second half of the last century, with the typical structural-behavioral approaches of the inductive method (more focused on stimulus-response processes emphasized by feedback and reinforcement), mechanical, repetitive exercises are introduced, which avoid an excess of previous theoretical explanations, and which start from the assumption that the students learn “automatically” after having carried out a sufficient number of exercises. All of them are generally based on:

  • Learning as habit-forming.
  • The use of oral language.
  • The introduction of the context

Finally, task-based approaches, which are based on the use of contextualized models, working with authentic documents and learning within a comprehensive cultural system, also found their way into our classrooms, but in a rather testimonial way. Teaching has continued to be, methodologically speaking, mainly deductive, with some inductive traces and small touches of transversality described -more than included- in competence-based learning[2].

However, our students have changed the way they learn. They are digital natives: technology is part of their lives, just as electric light was part of our grandparents’ lives. Their minds do not conceive of a non-technological world, as ours did not conceive that in order to wash, one would have to draw water from a well with a manual water pump. The act of learning, like that of washing, remains essentially the same, but to expect the digital natives to learn through textbook study, memory, and repetition is almost like asking them to draw water from a well to wash.

Online learning promotes access to content and communications, facilitates cooperative learning and exchange, and at the same time allows for individualization of teaching-learning.

Adopting a model of online education, even in the face of a pandemic, is an opportunity to get closer to our students by adapting the didactics. Within the Pedagogy, it is in charge of establishing the most appropriate procedures to guarantee the transmission of knowledge: techniques, activities, exercises, everything that, in each area, is understood as methodology.

Now, although didactics in classroom environments is quite different from that applied in virtual environments, in both environments the educator, the expert in the subject and the expert in performing the didactic transposition (the process that goes from “theoretical knowledge” to “taught knowledge”)[3], is the teacher.

What we have seen these days is that our teachers, experts without a doubt in their subjects and in the didactics of face-to-face classes, have been forced overnight to deal with that other online didactics for which not everyone was prepared, revealing, moreover, their own hidden training: “the methodological and didactic strategies that have been suffered, experienced and assimilated throughout one’s biography, starting in childhood, in the student years, and which, when one is a teacher, can appear unconsciously”. [4]

As with learning styles, where the classroom favors the theoretical and visual, this traditional hidden training can have a negative influence when addressing online teaching. Without forgetting the most important thing: in the online modality, the other active agent of the process, the student, has to get involved freely and voluntarily in his learning, which is opposed to the model of our classrooms, based on authority and compulsory.

Online teaching consists of a “mediated” model, that is, it uses the computer or other devices as a means of communication and information exchange between people: students and teachers. Its success depends on how both are involved, but also on the teaching materials, and a good pedagogical model, based on the principles of active learning, collaborative, autonomous, interactive, comprehensive, with relevant and creative activities or tasks, and a continuous and educational evaluation.

This “mediated” model of online teaching favors access to content and communications; it facilitates cooperative learning and exchange, and at the same time allows for individualization of the teaching-learning: the student sees his or her autonomy increased and controls his or her own pace and schedule. Moreover, since the computer integrates multiple tools (texts, images, videos, audios) the student can develop at the same time diverse skills through a wide variety of exercises and activities; these admit the repetition according to the needs of the student without external pressures, and with this they reduce inhibition, lower the fear of intervening and the anxiety produced by the fear of making mistakes.

The technology allows for immediate and personalized corrections and feedback. But it also presents certain risks: dispersion, the feeling of loneliness and the feeling that the effort to be made is excessive. The teacher must ensure that these risks are minimized, both as a group and individually: for him, this also involves a not inconsiderable effort. He or she becomes a facilitator, counselor, supervisor, moderator, examiner, motivator, evaluator, and even a support technician. He has enormous freedom to give examples, explain, clarify doubts, create didactic itineraries, propose tasks or debates, etc. However, this freedom does not match the rigidity of classroom programming and textbooks, nor is it easy to give continuity and follow up on what was being done in class on an online platform. The move from classroom learning to online learning during confinement does not mean the move from the face-to-face model to the virtual model.

A crisis such as the one we are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic since schools were closed without there being, on the part of the educational authorities, enough time to establish guidelines or draw up a minimum plan of action, confronts us precisely with what is not essential to carry out such elementary actions as washing or learning.

Going, then, to the essential, in any of its modalities the teaching-learning process consists of an exchange of information and skills between people (in which, if it is at a distance, we must bear in mind the digital gap that still exists in the student body). These people are mostly students in a stage of compulsory schooling, and teachers with little expertise in handling virtual media; and the information to be exchanged is basically contained in textbooks. Difficult transit.

How to adapt compulsory education in the classroom to an online system.

As a teacher with many years of experience in virtual environments, I was very clear from the beginning that the objective could not be a change in the educational paradigm, but to continue, as possible and maintaining similar patterns of work, the classroom course interrupted by a distressing health emergency. With only one term left to the end of the academic year, what can be done to adapt compulsory classroom education to an online system?

The temptation, and the easiest thing, would have been to set tasks and let each student take charge for a while of their training as a self-taught person: to continue advancing on their own, each with their own texts, separately and at home. Many teachers planned it this way in the first two weeks of confinement. But as the alarm period was extended, it became necessary to advance in content and evaluate it.

Technology applied to education allows immediate and personalized corrections and feedback. But it also presents certain risks: dispersion, the feeling of loneliness and the feeling that the effort to be made is excessive. The teacher must ensure that these risks are minimized.

In a confined situation, the materials on physical supports are not useful for this, because they do not allow interaction. The priority, then, was to find a channel and a space for that interaction. On the last day of school before the closure of the schools, three urgent decisions had to be made:

1. Determine the communication channel. After some initial confusion, among the many possibilities online, most teachers opted for the simplest: email. Just by asking students to write down the teacher’s email address to provide them with the email account they would use to work on those days, two important things were achieved: the first, to maintain interaction with each and every student from the very day of the closing; and the second, that the students themselves would be involved, instead of having to go to the official school lists, where what appear are the home or work accounts of the parents.

2. Set the meeting space that replaces the classroom, that is, create a virtual community that allows the cohesion of the groups, the participation of all students and a certain atmosphere of security and, as far as possible, of “normality” (without forgetting the distress of the health situation). The board of a virtual platform free access, as Google Classroom serves as a “blackboard” where to perform common practices. Finally, in an educational center there are “corridors”, “playgrounds” or “canteens”. It is the teacher’s task to try, as much as possible, to make the communication between the students and him/her as similar as possible to those brief corridor interviews (to explain why they have not been able to deliver an assignment on time or to access the virtual classroom for a few days) in a private way; as well as to favor moments of relaxation in the group, such as those that take place between class changes, or in the courtyard. A virtual classroom is not a jocular group chat, but it should also channel formulas for rest, relaxation and joviality in the group.

3. Establish the didactic resources. To give continuity to the class work using the habitual text books would be the obvious thing, but would all the students have them? Would they have had time to take them with them or would the drawers and lockers be full of photocopies, manuals, notebooks and books abandoned in the stampede? And even if most of them had them with them, there would be a percentage of students who had been confined to second homes or towns by the state of alarm, or with their non-custodial parents in cases of family separation, some might be sick?

Given such a range of possibilities, the most reasonable thing to do is to unify and make use of materials specific to that situation, which are easy to handle, respond to and evaluate. Because it is not a problem of content, so easily accessible on the Internet: the data is just a click away from each hand. It is about saving the essential: people who meet to think, collaborate, share information. It’s about debate, laughter, jokes. That is what we are learning to value in these times of confinement.

All this generates the T-COVID-T Project, teaching in COVID time.

This Project raises the main objective of teaching in the classroom, face to face, with students online.

This project starts in Shelton Academy at the end of August, with very clear specific objectives:

  1. To train the teachers of the school to face both modalities, in person and online at the same time.
  2. To prepare the other actors in the process who are natural mediators: the parents of the students.
  3.  Teach students to be part of this dual system..
  4. Google Classroom as the backbone of the educational duality, and Zoom as an online visualization agent.

The project is underway two months after it began. The shooting of the educational experiences are being collected. Later on we will make an analysis of what we have experienced so far, because we are sure that this is a replicable Model, where many educational institutions could take from our experiences. Shelton did not cross hands, and we continue to work proactively to achieve and exceed our educational standards.


References.

[1] According to the contents of the Online Spanish Tutor Training program (FONTE: 7§2).
[2] Order ECD/65/2015, of January 21, which describes the relationships between the competencies, contents and evaluation criteria of Primary Education, Compulsory Secondary Education and Bachillerato.
[3] Contents of the program Online Training of Spanish Tutors (FONTE: 7§2).
[4] J. Díaz-Corralejo (2004): Aportaciones de la Didáctica de las lenguas y las culturas. In Vademecum for the training of teachers. Madrid, SGEL.