Cascades Academy Independent School PK-12

Experiential Learning

Where Learning Comes to Life

Experiential learning at Cascades Academy is implemented at all levels of our curriculum and revolves around the central idea of learning by doing. The central tenets of this methodology include engaging students in a cycle of (1) activity/experience, (2) reflection, (3) conceptualization, and (4) application of desired learning outcomes. While the classroom affords many opportunities for students to engage in experiential education, the school also employs this learning methodology outside the traditional classroom.

Learning by doing has been a tenet of the Cascades Academy program since the school’s inception in 2003. Cascades Academy has since put a great deal of effort into refining its approach to experiential education. Through practice, training, research, and the addition of like-minded teachers and administrators, the school’s vision and practice have evolved into a more conscious and thoughtful approach that has resulted in the adoption and employment of the hybrid model shown above. At the center of this teaching technique is the experience. These experiences must have true meaning and value for the students. Some are related to the curriculum and others are related to the development of the individual - socially, emotionally, and/or physically.

Research shows that this kind of active, experiential learning supports creativity, problem solving and a deeper understanding that endures beyond test day. As such, many of the experiential learning opportunities support the academic curriculum. But, just as many support other important programmatic elements such as service learning, leadership, outdoor education, travel, or perhaps just exploring beyond one’s comfort zone. The school has adopted experiential learning as a cornerstone of its mission and recognizes the inherent value in teaching within this model. Not every lesson on every day employs the entire model, but the quality and depth of learning, not to mention student engagement, is clearly enhanced by the practice.

"I love that my kids have a balance of in and out-of-classroom experiences, an opportunity to bond with their classmates and teachers, and learn in creative ways that get them thinking, not just memorizing."
-Middle School Parent

There are many different examples of experiential education found in all of the divisions in the school. Through endeavors such as the Outdoor Education Program, Storyline Program, Mastery Program, Legacy Project, Traveling School Program, Service Learning Program, and in the day-to-day implementation of the academic program, the commitment to experiential education is evident.

What Is Experiential Learning?