Everything You Need To Know
1. How is Infinity School different?
Infinity School is fundamentally different from traditional schools. No bells ring, and there are no lectures. Students are in control of their own learning. This great article We Need To Educate Kids For The Future, Not The Past explains concepts that are being used in our school.
How our school is different:
- Student-driven, self-paced learning
- Real-world projects and apprenticeships
- Multi-age/grade classes
- Student self-governance
- Exploration and assessment of skill levels, learning styles, aptitudes, personality traits, and interests
- Guides rather than teachers
- Socratic discussions rather than lectures
- Mastery learning and student portfolios of achievements rather than grades
- No homework
- No teaching to the test
2. How do you know that the students are learning in this model?
Although we don’t issue grades to students, their progress is measured and tracked through a variety of tools and systems. Our badge system outlines expectations for reading, writing, math, and social/emotional progress by year. Students work with a guide to differentiate their core curriculum and set daily, weekly, and/or session goals. They showcase their mastery by meeting their goals, earning badges, assembling portfolios and taking part in public exhibitions of their work.
Student goals connect to the mastery of specific curriculum objectives through our online learning tools such as NoRedInk and Khan Academy, which also provide progress snapshots. A standardized test (we us the Stanford Achievement Test Series, Tenth Edition) is administered in a low-stakes format each year to provide one more measure of student learning. These evaluations and assessments are shared between parents, staff, and students in regular meetings, and parents are able to review student portfolios.
Also, our Eagles can take advantage of the incredible learning experience available through programs like Caribou (Math) Contests and Canadian Kangaroo Math Contest. These programs provide feedback on learning goals by offering rankings and scores.
3. What do you mean by a “Hero’s Journey?”
We believe that each of us has a special calling in life, and a series of trials and tests that must be faced with integrity and purpose, in order to live a satisfying and fulfilled life. Our mission is to prepare your child for his or her special journey.
The hero’s journey is inspired by the work of Joseph Campbell–please click here to read more.
4. What is an “Independent Learner?”
An independent learner is someone who can research questions and follow instructions to solve problems: someone who can admit that they don’t know something and figure out a solution when they hit a roadblock, without asking an adult for help. An independent learner also participates in discussions, and strives for mastery.
5. What do you mean by a “Running Partner?”
Running Partners are classmates who meet together regularly to set goals and hold each other accountable for meeting those goals. Running Partners encourage and inspire each other by asking good questions, listening and providing affirmation.
6. What do you mean by “Every child can change the world?”
We believe each of our students will find a passion — something they love and have a gift to do. They will use this gift to serve others and fulfill a need they are passionate about in the world. This may be by becoming a coach who sees the light in a child’s eyes and guides her to pursue a dream; it may be by becoming a doctor who puts patient care first, it may be by becoming a father or mother who leads a family on a Hero’s Journey; it may be becoming an entrepreneur or business leader guided by compassion and integrity; or it may be by becoming an artist or writer who brings beauty to people’s lives.
7. With the use of technology at Infinity School, how much screen time do the students have?
Technology is a useful tool and we are excited for our students to learn how to use computers to access information, communicate effectively, and learn independently.
Our students use their personal Chromebooks during some of their morning core skills time and for portions of their afternoon projects, averaging two to three hours per day. A student-created Internet Use Policy ensures technology tools are used appropriately.
8. How much exercise, outside, or gym time do the students get at your school?
Fresh air and exercise is very important to us! We have a scheduled hour-long PE class a week where we often go off-site to use a recreational facility or outdoor fields. For the 2016-2017 school year, those facilities included Junction Climbing Gym, a nearby arena for skating lessons, and a brand new gym. We also have a daily hour-long lunch break where we often walk to a park, which has an amazing climber! Our students love going there.
During a second longer stretch of time on Friday afternoons, we often head out to the nearby athletic fields to play games like soccer or ultimate frisbee or go for a hike in the conservation area to check on the resident deer, beaver, and water fowl (we see eagles, hawks, and herons out there!).
Our PE classes are lead by an experienced PE teacher/ coach/ fitness enthusiast. Last year our students did cross-country running and ALL finished the district-wide race in the “gold-medal” time! One of our Eagles even finished in the top ten of a field of over three-hundred kids.
Our students are able to take “brain breaks” during their core skills time where they could go outside into our attached, fenced in play-yard to run around or toss a basketball around.
9. Does Infinity School serve special needs children?
Infinity’s flexible approach to learning is a great fit for many kids who need something different than the traditional school environment. Students who have trouble sitting still through a standard school day often flourish in our classroom, which provides space for breaks, comfortable and flexible seating, and room for individual self-regulation.
However, we have noticed areas that provide challenges for the special needs student. Our school curriculum relies on dynamic group projects, and the environment can be very stimulating, so students that struggle with cooperation, self-regulation, and sensory issues may have special challenges in our classroom.
We are not able to serve children with serious learning disabilities.
10. Where is Infinity School located?
We’re so fortunate to be sharing space with the London Community Hebrew Day School in their beautiful, modern, bright building at 536 Huron Street. In addition to a great learning space, we have a large fenced-in play-yard attached to our building and we’re walking distance from the Huron Conservation area.
Find us at the North end of the lot: we’re in the grey building with blue tinted windows.
11. What grades and how many students?
Our inaugural year that started in September 2016, we accepted applications from families with children ages six through eleven.
We are now accepting applications from students ages five through twelve.
These students will learn and work hard together in one studio. There will eventually be up to thirty students with two full-time guides to support them, along with some specialist and volunteer support.
In September of 2017, we will move the students in grade six into a middle school studio, which will have children who would typically be in grades six through eight.
As these students progress, we’ll open our high school studio (called “launch pad”) for students in grades nine through twelve.
Each of the elementary, middle school, and launch pad studios will have thirty-six students enrolled in the program.
12. What is the vision for the school in the future?
We plan to open a middle school (grades six to eight), and high school (grades nine to twelve) in the future, as our older students progress through the program.
Our own children are ages eight and ten, and we are committed and invested to ensuring that they and our city will have access to this type of schooling for their entire education and beyond.
A parent called to ask, “This is a big decision! How do I know you are still going to be here in five years?”
We believe this is an excellent question. Our response was this, “I (Andrea) am committed to this program for the long-term. I know that we’re still going to be here in the future because my own children are going to be in this school. I will do whatever is necessary to make this program a success! I believe in the Acton Academy/Infinity School model so much that we are trusting our own child’s education to start this school and keep it going. Thankfully we have the backing of our medical clinic to get us through any challenging spots, should that happen. It’s important for us to hope for the best, yet plan for the worst, which we learned to do when we opened our medical clinic eight years ago.”
Our family lives in Old North so as talk of future building expansion happens, we will look to areas close to the centre, north, or west of London to create a permanent location when the time comes. We will certainly ask for our families to be involved in the expansion process if they like.
13. What is the transition like for students going from a 21st century format back to a traditional one?
The students and families who have moved from schools with our format back to a traditional one have reported a relatively seamless transition.
Our students learn problem solving skills, respect for their peers, the how & why of rule formulation, perseverance, resilience and empathy. This is in addition to honing their skills of: focusing, listening, personal organization, setting their own goals, and management of their own time — all of which are a recipe for a good transition into any new environment.
14. Will Infinity School help me get into a post-secondary school?
Our promise at Infinity School is to have our students well prepared for any selective university or college.
Universities are changing so rapidly that it’s difficult to imagine what admission requirements will look like in ten years.
Our Infinity Eagles leave with a rich portfolio of work. For some elite schools, homeschool, and alternative school applicants with portfolios have far higher acceptance rates than traditional schools.
Even more importantly, with multiple apprenticeships, real-world experience, and excellent interpersonal skills, our Eagles will stand out from the traditional college prep crowd. We are aware of the use of standardized testing (like the SAT) and will ensure our heroes are well prepared for any exam they wish to do.
Our students will be equipped to shine in the real world, whether they choose to go to college full time, part time or not at all. You might be interested to read this post: How My Project-Based School Prepared Me For Columbia.
15. What is the tuition?
Tuition is $12,400 per year for the first child and slightly less for second and third children or more in the same family. Billing options are annually, biyearly or monthly (fees slightly higher if advance payment not selected). Please click here to open the tuition PDF, which has all the information you will need.
If you are considering Infinity School but have already made a non-refundable down payment to another school, we will credit you for that amount (up to $1000, inaugural year only).
We are unable to provide scholarships or price reductions this early in our school’s history. Perhaps you can rely on financial support from Foundations who support education or family members who would like to help.
16. How do I apply?
If you are interested in applying to Infinity School, please click here to start the application process. We will read through your answers and contact you as soon as we can to arrange a time to meet with you.
17. What is the cost to apply?
There is no cost to apply, only the time you spend discovering if Infinity School is a good fit for your family.
18. Are there any prerequisites for applying?
There are no prerequisites for elementary students to apply to Infinity School.
19. Is Infinity School accredited?
Yes, Infinity School is accredited by the International Association of Learner-Driven Schools. We are also registered with the Ontario Ministry of Education.
20. How much French will the students learn?
Learning the French language is very important to us. Although we are not an “immersion” program, our students will be given French-language time from grade one onward. We do have a French guide who will be focusing on conversation skills during two fun and interactive forty-five minute sessions per week. This learning will be supplemented with the use of online tools during “core skills” time as well.
21. Do you have preschool or JK programs?
We do not have preschool or JK programs in our school, however, we do recommend these three programs in London:
Noah’s Ark at JCC London (Old North: Huron St at Adelaide St)
Preschool of the Arts (Old South: near Wortley Rd and Askin St)
Gibbons Park Montessori School (Old North: far West end of Victoria St in Gibbons Park)
22. How is your program different from the one at Montessori school?
Although we do follow a predominantly similar early-learning system as Montessori, there are some key differences to programming. We invite you to read this post, which contains that information.