Comprehensive Curriculum

Our multi-year high school curriculum is designed to develop students’ ability to think critically and creatively, collaborate with others, communicate clearly, merge knowledge from across disciplines, adapt technical skills to diverse needs, and solve complex problems. Each term builds on the prior and allows students to apply developing competencies directly to their work. As students progress through the terms, they gain exposure to a breath of themes and issues. They use these foundational experiences to craft a personalized pathway of learning.

Learning Blocks

Each term is composed of three main Learning Blocks: Studios, Seminars and Subject-area Academics. The Learning Blocks are designed as essential experiences for student growth to complement, connect and expand learning. The three Learning Blocks advance students’ creative skills, self and global awareness, academic rigor, and depth of understanding of concepts and knowledge.

Studios

The studio model plays a central role in advancing students’ creative capacity. Studios are spaces of intense learning, invention and problem solving around diverse topics that impact the real world, now and in the future. Each year, new studios are developed by NuVu’s team that connect with the relevant issues and challenges of our time. Our studio offerings also feature our cornerstone studios that repeat every year.

Studio Arc

During their four years at NuVu, students are challenged, motivated to find their interests and passions, and inspired to embark on new experiences. NuVu’s Studio Arc from Year 1 to Year 4 moves from “Foundation and Exploratory” where students develop foundational skills and explore diverse topics through smaller-scale projects, to “Venture” where students hone in on a single large-scale project with direct application in the world.

Foundation + Exploratory Years

Students spend their first two years developing their creative confidence. They learn how to approach open-ended problems, explore different ideas, iterate on multiple solutions, collaborate with team members, and communicate using different media.

Studios such as Designing Meaning explore methods and techniques for designing, design analysis, and design theory. Other studios such as Ceramic Rituals and Formbionics incorporate research-based and human-centered design work. As students progress in their first and second years, the complexity of the problems students deal with increases as well as the technical skills needed to address those problems.

Global Year

The third year expands the scope of pedagogy in the applied sense, as students test and scale their work into the real world through studio collaborations, exchanges, and work experience. Students also develop a deeper appreciation for constraints, viability and ethics.

Studios focus on collaborations with real partner organizations and clients, both within the city and globally. This work requires students to develop longer and more in-depth projects that are deployed on-site. They explore solutions in a completely different context while expanding their understanding of people, culture and environment. Last year, our students worked with the City of Cambridge to design a play structure in Danehy Park. In the past, our students have designed solutions for kids with cerebral palsy in Mexico and worked with Sesame Workshop to design collaborative games for kids in lower-income neighborhoods in India.

As part of our NuVuX Virtual Exchange Studios, students have created interactive art projects installed on-site in Hawaii and Scotland.

With guidance from their Advisors, students also participate in internships and externships at companies during the year that allow them to use their skills in the real world.

Venture Year

The final year enables students to come into their own in a number of ways. Students begin to chart their path beyond NuVu through the college application process with our guidance counselling. They engage in the broader workings of the school by mentoring younger students as Teaching Assistants in studios. And most importantly, they do a two-term-long independent project within the Capstone Studio. The Capstone project provides a synthesis and application of learned skills, competencies and interests. Students also exercise their agency in tackling issues that are most pressing and meaningful to them. The process includes students self-initiating research on a novel topic, rigorous exploration and definition of a thesis, project planning, and final implementation for exhibition of the work led by the student.

Last year’s Capstone projects included Zoom Focus which explored adaptive devices for virtual environments like Zoom, and The Unseen Plan which used memory, space and self reflection to re-examine the role of architecture.

Seminars

Seminars are cooperative sessions of reading and writing that tap into the deeper knowledge of the world. Seminars focus on specialized topics that engage contemporary discourse as a way to cultivate critical thinking and groundedness in the real world. Students bring that perspective into the new objects and paradigms they propose in studios. Each student takes one seminar per term.

Winter 2020-21 Seminar Offerings:

Person and Self

Psychology and Epistemology
Foundation (Y1)

Batteries Included

Science and Engineering
Exploratory (Y2)

Coded Bias

Ethics and Morality
Global (Y3)

Documentary Film in the Age of Tik Tok

Arts and Interpretation
Venture (Y4)

Subject-Area Academics

Subject-area academics are integrated into the school day to allow our students to take accredited academic courses through specialized online providers.

NuVu’s Academic Advisors work with each student to craft a personalized multi-year plan based on the student’s short term and long term academic goals. The Advisor meets with students weekly to offer support and guidance on in-studio projects, out-of-studio coursework, and extracurricular activities. Out-of-studio academic hours are a time for students to work on coursework that connects with their personalized learning pathway.

Sample Four Year Academic Plan:

Y1: English I, Algebra I, Earth Science
Y2: World History, Geometry, Biology
Y3: English II, Algebra II, Chemistry
Y4: US History, Calculus, Physics

Sample Schedule

Our schedule provides a focused block of time for students to work on their studio projects in the morning session. In the afternoon, students alternate between seminar and subject-area academics.

Calendar

The first day of school is September 8, 2020.
The last day of school is June 9, 2021.

NuVu follows a trimester schedule with three terms during the academic year.

Fall Term: Tuesday, September 8, 2020 - Friday, November 20, 2020
Winter Term: Monday, November 30, 2020 - Thursday, March 4, 2021
Spring Term: Monday, March 8, 2021 - Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Student Assessment

NuVu’s core values are rooted in the way we assess students. We believe that our students have unlimited potential. Our evaluation and transcripts represent a student’s application of skills and knowledge, and celebrates their growth over each year. Students are evaluated across six competency areas:

Creative Mindset
Personal Growth and Initiative
Community Citizenship
Critical Communication
Technical Literacy
Visual Literacy

At the center of a student’s development are Creative Mindset and Personal Growth competencies. These skills are critical to a student’s understanding of the world, how they relate to it, and how they can impact it. Through Citizenship, Communiction, Technical and Visual Literacy, students engage with a variety of tools and frameworks that allow them to understand, refine and communicate their ideas.

NuVu’s School Profile provides more information about our students, our school, and our assessment.
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I always feel lucky that we found NuVu, but especially this year. So many high school students we know have had disappointing semesters, whereas the academic programming at NuVu has been both rigorous and engaging. She’s learned a tremendous amount this school year – and she’s felt challenged by and enjoyed the process – thank you!
Laura J
NuVu Parent ’20