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Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy Independent Study Learning Contract Independent Study Independent Study provides students the opportunity to personalize learning beyond the course catalog. In contrast to Student Inquiry and Research, which requires the investigation of a single, driving question, Independent Study encourages students to explore a topic or body of knowledge with more freedom and flexibility, requiring a level of work similar to a senior elective. Only seniors under the direction of an IMSA faculty member are eligible for a one or two-semester study. Exceptions require the Principal’s permission. For an Independent Study, students earn 0.5 credits each semester receiving a “pass with distinction,” “pass,” or “fail” grade, assessed by the advisor. Independent Study credit does not count towards the course requirements for graduation. If a student enrolls in an Independent Study because he or she has exhausted the IMSA course catalog in a certain field, he or she may, with the advisor’s consent, appeal to the Principal for graduation credit. Application Process: Students will be invited by the Coordinator of College and Academic Counseling to complete an Independent Study Learning Contract in the fall and again in the spring. The contract must be completed and turned in to the applicant’s CAC by the first full “A” day of the semester of the proposed study. To comply with this deadline, applicants must complete steps 1-5 at least two weeks prior to the deadline. 1. Make an initial appointment with your proposed faculty advisor to discuss your proposal. Have a candid conversation about your current course load and academic status. (That is, underclass students, students on academic probation, and those registered for more than 7 classes are ineligible.) 2. Complete the attached form electronically. You may access this form on PrepHQ in the shared files. Print and sign it. Take the form to your advisor. Your advisor will approve your study, return your proposal for further revisions, or deny your proposal. 3. If the proposal is approved, your advisor will sign your learning contract, passing it on to the Curriculum and Assessment Leader. 4. The Curriculum and Assessment Leader will review your proposal and approve it, return it to your advisor for further revisions, or deny your proposal. Independent study may not be scheduled without CAL approval/signature. 5. Meet with your advisor to procure approved proposal and then return completed form to your CAC, by the first full “A” day of the semester of the proposed study. Your CAC will then schedule your independent study only if all signatures are affixed to the learning contract. 6. If you are requesting that credits earned in this study be applied toward graduation (see Student Handbook), and/or if you are requesting to do this study as a junior, you will need to take the form to the Principal for approval and signature. 7. No more than two independent studies are allowed per semester.
Independent Study Learning Contract Date of the proposal: Student Emily Weiland Fall only Spring only Two semesters 8/21/10
This Independent Study is planned for [Circle one]
Please describe the proposed study in 250 words or fewer. Identify the content you will explore (Specific Content), what you will do (Learning Goals), what you hope to learn (Student Competencies), and how you will demonstrate what you have learned (Student Outcomes/Products). Remember that the complexity and depth of the project must require the work and time commensurate with 0.5 units of credit per semester. Include a proposed calendar indicating the frequency with which you and your advisor will meet. (The minimum is once a week.) See attached guidelines and sample proposal descriptions. Signature page follows. This independent study will focus on writing fiction for a young adult audience. Different examples of modern young adult fiction and the themes, style, and content of each will be explored. This will include discussions of what is appropriate content for a young adult audience, censorship, and the right for parents to control what their older children read. Trends in young adult literature will be examined as well as how to write for a specific audience by identifying the traits and tastes of that audience. Throughout the course of the independent study, various short writings, both creative and analytical, will be produced to reflect a growing understanding of the writing process as well as the particular needs of YA fiction and related issues. By the end of the independent study, a working understanding of young adult literature and how to write it will be used to produce a long short story for a young adult audience as well as a reflective piece explaining the creative work and how it relates to the independent study as a whole. Meetings will be on I-days for at least one hour and on B-D days as needed. Possible Reading List: 1. Feed by MT Anderson 2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusack 3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 4. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow 5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman 6. Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link 7. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness 8. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson 9. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
10. Advisor Name Signature Date Signature indicates that the proposal meets the criteria outlined in “Guidelines for CAL Approval of Independent Study Learning Contracts” and willingness to supervise the proposed project.
CAL: Name Signature Date Signature indicates that the proposal meets the criteria outlined in “Guidelines for CAL Approval of Independent Study Learning Contracts” and willingness to supervise the proposed project.
CAC: Please verify that the student(s) named above is/are not on academic probation, is/ are enrolled in seven or fewer classes, and has no more than 2 Independent Studies per semester.
Comments (if any): Indicate here if exceptions are being requested. Exceptions include, request for Independent Study prior to senior year, request for advisor other than IMSA faculty, and/or request for credit to apply toward graduation requirements (Principal’s approval is required).
Principal : ___________________________________Date: ___________________
Guidelines for CAL Approval of Independent Study Learning Contracts. 1. Proposed course of study falls outside existing course catalogue. 2. Proposed course of study includes significant teacher direction/guidance; including a minimum of once a week meetings with the student. 3. Complexity and depth of the project will require time and work commensurate with 0.5 units of credit per semester. 4. Contract clearly articulates: a. Learning goals b. Student competencies c. Student outcomes/products d. Specific content e. Assessment process and preliminary criteria f. Tutorial calendar (projected number of weekly meetings and their time ranges) Sample Approved Learning Contracts Sample 1: World Languages, Introductory Danish. Although the formal language education program at IMSA relies on the immersion model, this independent study of Danish will be text based instead. In Denmark, Danish is regularly taught to non-Danish speakers, including asylum-seekers and refugees, using a series of texts which are based on conversational Danish. Our advisor will use the teaching materials from that program to introduce the student(s) to the language. By the end of the year, participating students will be able to translate and parse a page of text from any of the books or articles we have studied. The students and the teacher will meet three times weekly. [103 words] Sample 2: Fine Arts I plan to explore the designs, philosophy, and theories explaining why and how architecture morphs over time. As a result of this study, I will develop criteria for an independent decision about the highest values shaping architecture and further create an individual style applied to the creation of a cost and energy efficient design. I will produce drawings by hand or by Computer Aided Drafting programs, requiring the development of this competency before the study begins. These drawings will be modeled on the styles I learn during the study. A final paper defining what architecture should be will be required. Expectations include that I will demonstrate recognition of different styles of architecture in drawings and be graded on the following criteria: a. Understanding of the style b. Application of style in the student’s own design c. Effort in the design process d. Aesthetic and practical appeal of design The summative paper will also be assessed on clarity, comprehensive summary of content, and specificity of definition. I will meet with my advisor weekly. [172 words]
Sample 3: Science This proposed study is an introduction to non-compressible fluid mechanics and hydraulics, focusing on static and dynamic phenomena. Static phenomena will be the starting point since it has simple calculus. By the end of the study, participating students will have a solid understanding of basic fluid mechanics including the Bernoulli equation, laminar flow, turbulent flow, use of the Reynolds’ number and a solid understanding of the various properties of fluids. This study will lead to a further exploration of atmospheric heat transfer through the study of energy flux phenomena and compressible flows. On average, the students and advisors will meet two hours per week. Each student will produce a bank of solved problems as well as complete laboratory experiment reports. The advisor will assess learning based on quality of homework and problem solving. [133 words] Sample 4: Science This independent study will focus on animal behavior. Students will either 1) pick a specific topic or aspect of animal behavior to research, or 2) pick an organism or group of organisms and investigate various aspects of its/their behavior. Possible topics include: behavioral genetics, social behavior, communication, aggression and territoriality, courtship, parenting, foraging, defense against predators, navigation and migration, and behavioral rhythms or cycles. Students will meet with their advisor on a weekly basis. Benchmarks will be set for them for the middle and end of each quarter and be used to gauge student progress toward the completion of the final research paper and presentation. Each student will write a thorough and well researched paper. He/She will also give a presentation to an audience consisting of other students in their independent study group and various students from EBE classes. The faculty advisor will help students with the research and writing process. He will also assess their progress toward meeting benchmarks and will assess their final paper and presentation at the end of the semester.