Beyond the Textbook
Renaissance students never need to ask, "when will I use this in real life?" Some call it expeditionary learning, project-based learning, or experiential learning. However it is defined, Renaissance believes learning is more effective and engaging when students tackle real-world problems.
At the heart of a Renaissance education are learning expeditions. These are interdisciplinary courses that take a deep dive into a real-world topic or question. Expeditions are designed to explore big questions, big issues in the world. While they have a science or humanities focus based on the nature of the questions driving the course, all are addressed in a transdisciplinary way. These deep, focused courses are more akin to learning in college and life.
The Renaissance program emphasizes real world learning: learning not just about the world, but directly from the world and for the world. Students work on real-world projects, interview experts, and conduct original research. And students regularly leave campus to learn in the field -- across town, across the country, and across the globe. Students develop the skills and habits they need to be ready for college and for life.
We go well beyond textbooks and use real-world problems to teach mathematics. Whether we’re determining the optimal speed limit for a local thoroughfare or learning about probabilities at a Rockies game, students are challenged with real-life applications and are rewarded with tangible outcomes.
Renaissance offers Spanish as its on-campus language. Courses include beginning and intermediate Spanish, and students move to a full-immersion approach as they move past the first year. All of our classes emphasize listening and speaking over textbook work, with an emphasis on getting regular practice using Spanish to communicate. Real-world uses include trips to Costa Rica and visits to local cultural sites allow for rich connections between the classroom and the Spanish speaking world.
An X-Block (short for Exploratory Block) is an elective course developed around student interests and passions, which can be related to academics, athletics, or interdisciplinary arts. Most X-Blocks are scheduled at the end of the day to allow students to participate in competitive sports (at Renaissance or their home school) or other off-site after school activities.
COLLEGE PREPARATORY RIGOR
While a Renaissance education is uncommonly engaging, it is also rigorous. Many of our courses are taught at an honors level. Students are expected to grapple with complex topics, engage in high-level readings, conduct both quantitative and qualitative analysis, pursue scientific research, and develop original arguments rooted in evidence. Our science program covers biology, chemistry, and physics, while our writing program prepares students to write at a college level.
Renaissance offers students the ability to earn college credit through a partnership with Arapahoe Community College.
What about test scores?
Despite Renaissance's philosophy that learning should never be about simply doing well on a standardized test, our students' test scores on state standardized tests prove that Renaissance's unique curriculum prepares students for college as well, or better than, neighborhood public schools in Douglas County.
THE SENIOR CAPSTONE
The Senior Capstone experience provides seniors with an opportunity to apply their learning to a complex and challenging project aligned with their interests or passions.
The Senior Capstone experience is a fitting conclusion to the Renaissance high school experience. Through the project, students demonstrate accumulated skills in time-management, research, problem-solving, human interaction, organization, public-speaking and self-reliance - the very skills and abilities which students will be expected to demonstrate in college, modern careers, and adult life.
Graduating From Renaissance
The academic program at Renaissance Secondary School is a rigorous program that prepares students for admission to elite colleges and universities in addition to preparing young people to live and work in the real world. Renaissance, therefore, has some of the highest graduation requirements of high schools in Douglas County.
Unlike other high schools in Douglas County, Renaissance does not limit the number of classes a high school student may take - and Renaissance does not mandate "free periods."
Students seeking credit recovery in order to graduate on time have options through Brigham Young University (BYU Independent Study High School Program), Edgenuity credit recovery software, and summer school through
Douglas County School District.
Credit recovery requires a contract with the counselor and students and their families will incur the cost of the recovery program.
In order to graduate from Renaissance Secondary School, high school students must have successfully completed a Capstone project, forty hours of community service, and a minimum of 24.0 credits.
English - 4 credits
Mathematics - 4 credits (must include Integrated Math I, II, and III, or the content covered in Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2)
Social Studies - 3 credits (must include 1.0 credit of U.S. History or World History, and 0.5 credit Civics/U.S. Government
Science - 3 credits (two of which must be lab based)
Arts - 2 credits
World Language - 1 credit
PE/Health - 1 credit
Electives - 6 credits
Renaissance utilizes standards-based grading. High school students are also given traditional grades for purposes of college admission.
Standards-based grading (SBG) is an innovation in education that focuses on learning and helps increase achievement. Instead of a single overall grade, SBG breaks down the subject matter into smaller “learning targets.” Each target is a teachable concept that students should master by the end of the course. Throughout the term, student learning on each target is recorded. Teachers track student progress, give appropriate feedback, and adapt instruction to meet student needs.
Click here to read more about the specifics of SBG at Renaissance.
Why Use Standards Based Grading?