Do you have questions about Big Picture Learning? Are you wondering if it might be a good fit for you? Below are some our frequently asked questions. If you would like additional information, please free to contact us at 253.530.1700
What is Henderson Bay Big Picture? Henderson Bay Big Picture is a school built around strong staff/student relationships where students are empowered to learn while pursuing their interests. Students get hands on learning in professional environments alongside a mentor as they explore their interests. Students develop an Individual Learning Plan where they are supported in pursuing their interests while also taking a mix of academic and exploratory classes.
Is Henderson Bay Big Picture an “Alternative School?” No. Henderson Bay is public school of choice in the Peninsula School district built on a model that is personalized, relevant, and emphasizes real world learning. Henderson Bay Big Picture works for diverse students with a range of academic abilities, school experiences and interests.
What is Big Picture Learning? Big Picture Learning is the name of the school-design model upon which Henderson Bay is based. The model emphasizes project-based learning and internships over traditional grades and classes. Big Picture Learning was founded in Rhode Island more than 20 years ago; Henderson Bay is among more than 65 schools nationwide that have adopted its model. Locally, the Bellevue, Issaquah and Highline school districts also offer choice Big Picture schools. More information is available at www.bigpicture.org
What kind of student is a good fit for Henderson Bay? Henderson Bay Big Picture is a fit for students of all abilities and personalities but really appeals to students who seek a different learning environment. Students who feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable in the large high school setting will like our small classes and family feel. Students who like hands on experiences and are able to work independently will thrive here. Students who struggle in the traditional classroom but really want to learn in a different way can excel here. This learning model requires commitment and active participation- it’s not an easy way but a different way. Students who are not committed to learning will struggle.
All students have an advisor and work in an advisory setting. What is advisory? Advisory is both a class and a relationship. The class focuses on team building, goal setting, problem solving and the social/emotional well-being of students. The relationship is a consistent connection between the student, their advisor and their advisory cohort. Over the high school career this group becomes a family that supports each other as they pursue their academic and personal goals. The advisor acts as a teacher, counselor, advocate, cheerleader and many other roles. The student and the advisor work collaboratively to establish and monitor the Student Learning Plan for each semester.
What is an internship? How do students find them? An internship is a partnership with a mentor working in an area the student has an interest in. The student and mentor work together in the job setting so the student can learn through hands on experiences. Students work in their advisory to find and develop their interests, investigate career paths and find potential options in the community. To start, a student may job shadow in multiple settings to see what the work setting is like. When a student finds a connection to a work site, he/she work with a mentor from that site, his/her advisor and the internship coordinator to clarify responsibilities, expectations and establish learning goals for the internships. Collaboratively this group will work to develop an internship project for the student to work on. These projects help students develop new skills and add value to the host site for the internship by providing a needed service.
What does a school day look like? Advisory and Learning Thru Interests (LTI) time is where students work on independent projects, internship projects, advisory projects, college/career planning, reading activities, writing activities and other grade level work connected to the learning plan. Students do take some traditional classes with a teacher leading the learning. Students take math through Algebra 2 or equivalent, and have a selection of other classes to choose from including English, science, social studies, art and other electives. Students can still take classes at West Sound Tech, Peninsula Internet Academy or through Running Start just as they do at the other comprehensive high schools. Students work with their advisors and with each other on a variety of activities connected to their learning plan.
How are students assessed at Henderson Bay Big Picture? Students are assessed by public displays of learning that track growth and progress in the student’s area of interest. Assessment criteria are individualized to the student and the real-world standards of a project. Students present multiple exhibitions each year and discuss their learning and growth with staff, parents, peers, and mentors. Students do write papers and take assessments like they would in a traditional setting but primarily are assessed by making explicit connections between their experiences and their learning through exhibitions. Students make explicit connections between their internship experiences, projects and academic work to the established competencies and how they met them. All competencies are shown on the transcript, including a narrative of how the student met them.
What about post-secondary education (college or trade school)? All students develop a plan that contributes to their future success–be it through college, trade schools, travel, the military, or the workforce. A Big Picture student will leave Henderson Bay Big Picture with a high school diploma and a narrative transcript that will enable them to move to whatever his/her future goals entail.
How do I apply? Go to the Henderson Bay Big Picture website www.psd401.net/hbh/ click on the Apply Here button and complete the online application.