Focus Studies

What is Focus Studies?


Focus Studies is a program that is truly a departure from our regular course of studies and a great opportunity for all of us to be life-long learners.  

We define our regular offerings as:

Specials: a traditional class offered to students as part of their weekly program such as art, 
physical education, library media or vocal music.

Electives: a class offering that students in the upper grades elect to round out their daily schedule. 
Electives might include instrumental music, advanced art, film, environmental studies, physical 
education, or newspaper for example.

A Focus Study is a class offering that students select as a special interest focus for a five or ten day block. These classes will meet for 60 minutes per day, from 8:15-9:15 am, and all K-8 students will participate.  During these weeks, our specials/electives schedule is amended.  We move to a focus study rotation where all K-8 students select one class that focuses on students’ specific interests. These classes are designed by combining core curriculum with ideas generated from student and staff special interests.  

During these sessions:
For 60 minutes each day, K-8 students attend focus studies.  All teaching staff and some parent volunteers offer a focus study during these two blocks for five consecutive days. Special area classes and electives still happen, but with an amended schedule.

The focus study groups fall into one of these arrangements:
  1. An integrated thematic study of a topic of high interest. For example: Horses.  During the course there might be math, art, science, reading and writing experiences all combined to delve into this topic.
  2. A study of a special skill. Some offerings focus on a specific skill such as a cooking, building, learning a new physical education activity, or the study of a musical specialty.

What are the Advantages? 
  • This plan is truly alternative. 
    • It looks different from our regular program and is different from any other AAPS school. 
    • It builds on our philosophy of giving students real choice in what they study.
  • It offers several opportunities for cross-age groupings throughout the year.  
  • Multi-day focus studies are a chance for adults and students to sink their teeth into a project or topic in depth. 
  • Students really get to know others outside their usual classes and to make new social connections.
  • When lots of adults participate, class sizes for focus studies can be smaller than usual. 
  • Parents are welcome as leaders, attendance takers, or volunteers - as much or as little as possible. 
    • Every parent volunteer, no matter which role they choose, helps make focus studies run more smoothly!

Planning Materials for Focus Study Leaders