UAS Week Without Walls Program
The Week Without Walls Program aims to provide quality-learning experiences outside the classroom by offering the high school students a wide variety of opportunities, both local and outside of Montevideo.
Each trip included in this program is specially focused in one of the following areas and work with less emphasis at least in two more:
• Learning Lifetime Skills: Students will engage in activities that require a skill not previously undertaken, or increased expertise in a skill they have previously practiced.
• Environmental Education: Students will gain a greater understanding of how they affect the environment. They will follow “leave no trace” practices and learn how they can live a more ecologically sustainable lifestyle.
• Community Service: Students will engage in activities that benefit others, striving to create sustainable systems that can be adopted by the community or individuals and that are designed according to their needs and available resources.
• Leadership Skills: Students will be placed in scenarios aimed at the discovery and development of leadership potential of each one, leading process.
• Cultural Awareness: Students will be exposed and immersed in a culture different from their own. As a result they will gain new perspectives and insights to their native culture.
“The Uruguayan American School is a multicultural, academically challenging learning community that prepares students to be responsible global citizens and lifelong learners through U.S.,international and Uruguayan curricula”
[Taken from the UAS Mission Statement]
As an institution, UAS cannot fulfill its mission unless students are provided experiential learning opportunities that complement classroom-based academics. While these experiences may not necessarily be purely academic in nature, they act as a doorway to new ways of thinking and expose students to life-changing new ideas and interests.
At this moment the school wants to move a step forward from the traditional class trips to a “Week Without Walls” program offering diverse options to provide them with the context, opportunity, and experiences necessary for meaningful and long-lasting learning.
The Week Without Walls program strives to help students learn a new life skill, live in greater harmony with the environment, participate in community service, develop leadership and problem-solving skills, and/or increase their understanding of another culture.
Each trip also helps students become better reflective thinkers, learn how to deal with adversity in various forms, feel part of a larger community, and understand the importance of a sustained effort. Furthermore, trips expose students to physical, emotional, creative, and intellectual challenges that make them a more well-rounded and fundamentally stronger learner and person.
For descriptions of the various trip options for Spring of 2015, please see the Week Without Walls 2015 Destinations page.
Connections to the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program
Week Without Walls learning objectives closely mirror the IB Learner Profile. In particular, there is a strong correlation to the IB CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) program. The CAS program encourages students to increase their awareness of areas for personal growth, to undertake new challenges, to plan and initiate activities, to work collaboratively with others, to show perseverance and commitment, to engage in issues of global importance, to consider the ethical implications of their actions, and to develop new life skills. All of these objectives can easily be met through meaningful participation in the WWW program. Students in need of demonstrating CAS learning outcomes will be able to apply the experiences and reflections from their WWW trips directly to their profiles.
Learning about symbiotic relationships, indigenous cultures, coasts dynamics, the biodiversity of the rainforest, or the effects of erosion in a classroom setting is valuable. However, to make these lessons memorable and formative in the long term, there needs to be an experience attached to the idea.
There exists a wealth of academic documentation that champions the importance of learning in context: learning by doing rather than observing. The Week Without Walls program provides students with these contexts. As a result students:
• See the application of academic learning and personal or social skills to real life
• Bring real benefits to themselves and/or others
• Understand their own capacity to make a difference
• Make decisions that have real, not hypothetical, results
• Develop skills to solve problems
• Develop a sense of responsibility and accountability for their actions.
International Baccalaureate Experiential Learning Cycle
Experiential learning involves much more than just the activity itself: planning, acting, observing, and reflecting are all crucial in making the experience as valuable as possible. With this in mind, an integral part of the Week Without Walls program is the Reflection Journal.