ODP Vision, Guiding Principles, and Structure
TMS Outdoor Discovery Program
Program Size: 27-30 students (9 or 10 per grade level)
Grades Served: 6th, 7th, and 8th
This program is structured so that students will be involved in the general TMS classes and student body in the morning, and then will be in a self-contained ODP environment in the afternoon. This is a multi-grade class blending 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students who will work together on assigned projects. It is the whole afternoon and is independent of the traditional 7-period day that the rest of the TMS student body uses.
ODP students will take grade/skill level classes in Math and Language Arts, as well as one elective class in the morning. This elective could be PE, band, computers, art, robotics, aviation, or design/engineering. Math, language arts, and the elective class will be taken with the general student body and faculty of TMS.
In the afternoon ODP students will start with an advisory period that will be taught by the ODP teacher. After that, 5th, 6th and 7th periods will contain the main ODP curriculum and activities. The focus of the middle school ODP experience for students will be similar to the elementary program: an environmentally-focused, project-based learning model that encourages learning through experimentation and discovery. Field experiences and multi-sensory inputs for students will be regularly provided. During the afternoon the following subjects will be integrated into the curriculum: Science, Health, and Social Studies.
TMS-ODP Vision and Guiding Principles
It is the goal of the TMS-ODP that students will walk away from the program with a firm confidence in critical thinking and problem-solving. The program will enhance their innate ability to innovate, design and build while mastering the core subjects of Science, Social Studies and Health..
The mission of ODP is to provide a multi-age collaborative, project-based learning community that integrates the outdoors into the academic core curriculum in a nurturing environment that treats all students as individuals and provides encouragement for deep parental involvement. .
The ODP uses a Project Based Learning (PBL) approach to academics. This means that students are asked to work independently or in small groups on large multi-disciplinary projects. Sometimes these projects can have community partners where we are asked to do real world work. This means that we are looking for students who are energetic, organized, and work well with others.
The methodology of PBL is based upon the idea of using a guiding question or problem to drive inquiry. The students then research and brainstorm their solutions. . They make an action plan, implement that plan, critique and revise the plan if needed, and then present it to the class, parents, and/or community partner.
This process leads students to be good problem solvers and increases their sense of self confidence as their projects yield tangible results.
Some examples from last year were:
- Planning and planting acorns along the Greenway (Stewardship & Ecology)
- Doing a plant identification survey for a park restoration, (Biology & Stewardship)
- Planning a school garden, (Ecology & Engineering)
- Facilitating a school dance fundraiser, (PBL process)
- Starting a can recycling program. (PBL process, Stewardship)
As an outdoor school, the ODP is focused on preparing our learners to be active stewards of the environment and community. We regularly do clean ups and restoration work, sometimes with community partners. Many of our projects are focused on examining water quality, improving habitats, and/or making a big impact on a small space. While most of our academic work is done inside, our class spends a significant time outside. We will need to visit project sites, examine natural processes, and conduct scenarios. We often walk to get to our site or spend our afternoon doing projects outside. Every activity and trip has a purpose and the academic work that is required for this class can be heavy at times. Due to our trips there may be more homework than would normally be expected. This is because we occasionally have all day field trips. This means that the students will miss their other classes and have to make the work up on their own time.
ODP is organized on the premise that it is the joint responsibility of the parents/guardians, students, as well as the school to support and encourage academic achievement. It is a program that thrives with and requires parental participation and input. Parents are encouraged to chaperone field trips and help with both in class and after-school activities. Elementary school parents are asked to volunteer 25 hours per academic year per family to the school. For middle school families, this changes to ten hours per year from the parents (or adult family members) and ten hours from the students. The enriching opportunities that ODP provides your student expands exponentially with the effort families so graciously provide. The ultimate success of the ODP experience relies on this support and volunteer hours, and provides a unique opportunity to frame our students' education together. .
All ODP parents are automatically members of the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) which meets eight times over the academic year.. There is a sub-PAC specific for middle school parents that meets every other month. This is a time to get to know other parents, learn more about what is happening in the classroom, and discuss how to support your students and teacher. All PAC meeting participation counts towards required volunteer hours. It is understood that attending PAC meetings or chaperoning field trips can be difficult to schedule, and every effort will be made to provide as much advance notice as possible. There are other ways a parent can still help the program from home, such as calling community partners and businesses, writing grants, helping to plan field trips, sharing an expertise, and brainstorming possible projects that may be beneficial to the program. The PAC Board can help you to find ways to fulfill your hours within your abilities
The Outdoor Discovery Program at TMS is a truly unique experience that provides remarkable opportunities for student growth and development individually and within our community.
Q: How are students selected for the TMS-ODP Program?
A: Students/parents must submit the required application form and associated survey forms (see application materials section below) prior to the annual deadline. TMS administrators then review the applications and fill program vacancies according to student merit and program need.
Q: Do we still go through with field trips and outdoor activities in inclement weather?
A: This depends on the situation. Some field trips will be able to be completed with appropriate gear and others cannot. The school does have a waterproof boot library and is actively trying to expand it’s outerwear options for those that need it.
Q: If my child is accepted into this program will he/she be able to participate in elective classes, clubs, and/or sports at TMS?
A: Yes, your child is welcome to participate in sports or clubs just like any other TMS student. They will have one period available to choose an elective class (band, choir, art, computer, physical education, or student aiding) as long as that class is offered during his/her free period.
Q: What do I need to do as a parent to support my child and the overall success of the ODP program this year?
A: Parental volunteer time is mandatory. We ask that each student's family provide 10 hours per academic year. This can be done in multiple ways. First, field trip chaperones are always in great need as some locations require adult supervision. If that’s not feasible, help planning field trips, working on fundraisers, and gathering supplies are always appreciated. Any participation in PAC meetings will fulfill volunteer requirements. This is an excellent time to connect with the teacher, find out about upcoming events, build community with other parents, and help construct the best educational environment for your learner.
Q: Is there tuition or any other fees required to enroll in the TMS-ODP?
A: There is a $50 per student annual fee to help cover the cost of materials and field trips associated with this program. This is in addition to regular fees charged for all TMS students. Scholarships are available for families who cannot afford this or other fees. Please see the school office for more information.
Q: Can my child be removed from the program after he or she is enrolled?
A: This program requires a higher level of self-motivation and collaboration/cooperation than other classes. Because of this, appropriate behavior and work ethic from the students in the program are key expectations. If those expectations are not met, students may be excused from the program per TMS and ODP policies. Upon acceptance of a position in the ODP program parents will receive a copy of the Student Expectations and Guidelines Compact. By signing and returning this document, parents and students are agreeing to these terms. Failure to adhere to the terms of the compact may result in dismissal from the program.
More Questions? Please direct any questions to Principal Aaron Santi. He can be reached at 541-535-1552 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Teacher Dan Akita can also field questions about the program. He can be reached at 541-535-1552 or at email@example.com. Parent concerns or questions about volunteering can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.