In Expeditionary Learning Schools (ELS), learning expeditions are the primary way of organizing curriculum. The subject matter of a learning expedition is a compelling topic derived from content standards. Learning expeditions feature linked projects that require students to construct deep understandings and skills, creating products for real audiences. Learning expeditions support critical literacy, promote character development, create a sense of adventure, spark curiosity, and foster an ethic of service. They address central academic standards of content, skills, and presentation, including goals related to character and community. They allow for and encourage the authentic integration of disciplines.
Teachers work together to ensure that learning expeditions align with local standards. A coherent sequence of learning expeditions is mapped vertically through the grade levels to ensure that expedition topics are not repeated and that students learn essential skills and knowledge. The ELS approach emphasizes hands-on, project-based instruction to encourage high academic achievement and personal growth. The progress of students is evaluated through multiple criteria assessment strategies and a work sampling portfolio system linked to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.
While learning expeditions are the primary curricular structure in an ELS, other curricular structures, programs, materials, projects, and lessons are also used when appropriate or required. As much as possible, however, these other curricular structures incorporate essential elements of learning expeditions such as products, literacy, and service.
Taken from the Expeditionary Learning website, Expeditionary Learning Core Practice Benchmarks, I.1 Learning Expeditions: Implementing Learning Expeditions Across the School.