The Six Components of the OE3 Curriculum
At Odyssey Heights School for Girls, our Outdoor Ecological and Experiential Education (OE3) curriculum allows students to learn through hands-on, real world, engaging, multidisciplinary experiences. Students learn the majority of their science, geography, history, and art, as well as parts of their math, English, French, and technology curriculum on OE3 trips.
All six OE3 components are curriculum-linked with the Ontario Secondary School Curriculum, the Montessori Elementary and Secondary I & II Curriculums, and the PreAP and AP Curriculum. OE3 trips, and activities allow all our students to graduate with either their Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.
**All OE3 overnight trips, the equestrian program, and other OE3 activities are included in tuition.
**As gas prices can fluctuate widely, and we neither want to over charge families, nor run a deficit, a transportation fee is billed to the student account each year.
1. A month of overnight trips every year
OE3 Trips are screen-free time when students learn to budget their picture and selfie taking - because there's a limit to the number of photos on a roll of film. Overnight trips provide experiences for girls to learn leadership, build lasting friendships without texting and social media, challenge themselves, and to learn to think without Googling the answers.
Students plan, prepare, and cook all the meals on overnight trips. Senior School Learning Community students are also responsible for budgeting and shopping for meals. This gives Odyssey Heights girls opportunities to gain essential life skills that many of the iGeneration are lacking, resulting in graduates that are ready to look after themselves in post-secondary school and beyond.
Health & Safety on OE3 Trips: Odyssey Heights School for Girls takes our students' health and safety seriously! We have comprehensive safety and risk management procedures and policies that meet or exceed Outdoor Recreation industry standards. All teachers have Standard First Aid, CPR, anaphylaxis training, and Mental Health First Aid. All our teachers who go on overnight trips having their Wilderness Advanced First Aid before the school year starts, and their Wilderness First Responder before going on winter, backcountry, or wilderness trips. Additional OE3 trained staff and/or professional guides are hired for higher risk/backcountry trips (eg canoeing.).
Two way radios and/or satellite phones are carried on all backcountry trips. All canoe trips have at least one canoe with three people so that in case of injury no canoe has to be paddled solo. Every student on backcountry trips has a wilderness survival kit - and is taught how to use it. Backcountry stoves - a key piece of equipment to keep students well fed and warmed up with hot drinks in extreme weather - are 25+ year Outdoor industry proven, "field repairable", WhisperLite multi-fuel stoves made by Mountain Safety Research.
All students receive training in first aid, wilderness first aid and wilderness survival skills. Senior School students have the opportunity to earn their Wilderness Advanced First Aid and/or their Wilderness First Responder certifications, and must complete at least Emergency First Aid before the overnight trip to Alberta. Health and safety training and tests are part of the Ontario Secondary credit physical education and health courses in Outdoor Activities. Students repack their luggage/hiking packs in front of teachers a day or two before leaving for trips ensuring that all required gear and clothing (and no banned items) are brought on trips.
Water safety on canoe trips: A swim test is done at the beginning of the year - which gives time for students to improve their swimming skills before the spring and/or summer canoe trips. All students have their own Canada Safety approved PFDs. Weak swimmers must wear life jackets that automatically turn them face up in the water, and be in a canoe with a staff or guide with at least her/his National Lifesaving Society Bronze Cross.
Cotton clothing items (including underwear, bras, and socks) are not allowed on overnight trips and fall/winter day outdoor trips as cotton keeps moisture close to the skin and is thus a major contributor to hypothermia. The required "back to school shopping" fee includes quality personal outdoor clothing and equipment. Standardizing student personal equipment increases safety, and aids in teaching proper packing and gear use. We welcome and greatly value questions about health and safety.
2. School-wide, curriculum-linked equestrian program
In keeping with offering engaging, hands-on, integrated, relevant, and challenging curriculum, Odyssey Heights School for Girls has a school-wide equestrian curriculum. The equestrian curriculum is mapped to the Ontario Secondary School curriculum and some AP curriculum expectations, and forms one of the strands in the Montessori Secondary I and II Agriculture and the Environment courses. In addition to horseback riding lessons at The Royal Canadian Riding Academy, our students:
- Do horse lovers math
- unit conversions (feet, inches, metres, hands to centimetres)
- angles and measurement
- Use equestrian themed activities and hands-on time with horses to cover curriculum expectations in:
- biology and physics
- English language arts
- Peace and conflict studies
**NOTE: students who want to focus on horses should apply to the ESES Equine Science and Equestrian Studies high school diploma program which is starting in 2019. Currently enrolled (2018-2019) students are given priority for acceptance, and will be able to participate in additional equestrian activities in spring 2019.
3. POGO: “Project Or Going Out" ~days and weeks dedicated to project-based learning and day field trips
“POGO” )Project Or Going Out) is the name for days and weeks where students spend the whole day or week learning about and working on one project or theme. There is one designated POGO day every week, so field trips don't conflict with regularly scheduled classes and work periods.
Over 50 days per year are dedicated to project based learning. Each POGO week and POGO Wednesdays have a single project based topic such as coding with Raspberry Pi computers and Sphero robots, or the annual “Halloween Michael Jackson’s Thriller Dance and Video Production Workshop”. Having every Wednesday be a POGO day allows teachers to schedule field trips that don’t interfere with the regular class or work period schedule.
4. Micro-Economy: Student Run Businesses and Nonprofit Enterprises
Montessori education fosters entrepreneurship. An essential part of every Montessori Secondary program as well as many Montessori Upper Elementary programs is the student run enterprises. Ranging in scale from monthly cafés for their friends and family, to registered charities raising tens of thousands of dollars, to the student run Hershey Farm School in Ohio, micro-economy enterprises give students experience in running their own business with their schoolmates and in making decisions with tangible outcomes.
Entrepreneurship makes academics come to life and develops problem solving, communication, teamwork, financial literacy, and leadership skills. It also gives girls the confidence and resilience they need to "break the glass ceiling” by starting their own female-run businesses.
Starting in 2018, students at Odyssey Heights School will be growing their own organic produce and seedlings indoors to sell at local farmers’ markets. Older students will also have the opportunity to run their own graphic design and social media content business(es) - using the skills they learn in technology, English, and art credit courses. As Odyssey Heights School for Girls grows, other student run enterprises will no doubt be proposed, created, and run by our students.
5. Interdisciplinary studies courses
Interdisciplinary studies courses (IDS) at Odyssey Heights School are an opportunity to explore the interrelationships among disciplines through engaging, experiential hands-on learning. All Odyssey Heights School for Girls students take at least one, and ideally two, 4 to 5 credit interdisciplinary studies course before graduation.
All Interdisciplinary Studies courses:
- consist of 4 or 5 Ontario Secondary courses,
- include either grade 11 Interdisciplinary Studies Open (IDP3O) or grade 12 Interdisciplinary Studies University Preparation (IDP3O),
- have optional AP credits.
- Have OE3 overnight trips and POGO weeks dedicated to meeting the curriculum expectations and learning outcomes of that course.
- Explore career options in related fields
- Have a major research and/or practical cumulative project
IDS course offerings are based on the interests of each cohort of students.
6. Senior School Year End Trips: National & International Travel
Senior School Learning Community Year End trips provide students with opportunities to :
- Demonstrate the courage to travel to, and live in an unfamiliar place.
- Be ambassadors for Canada and their community.
- Assume leadership roles shaped by lessons from the experience.
- Opportunities to use their French language skills
- To expand their knowledge of academic subjects though hands-on immersion experiences.
As Odyssey Heights School adds grades from opening in 2018/2019 to 2021/2022 the first trips will be:
- 2018/19: Algonquin Park grades 6-10
- 2019/2020: Alberta Rockies - grades 10 & 11
- 2020/2021: Iceland & Copenhagen - grade 11 & 12 (grade 12 continues on to France after Copenhagen) ; Alberta Rockies - grade 10;
- 2021/2022: Our “regular” schedule of trips starts for each grade - Gr 10 Alberta; Gr 11 Iceland & Copenhagen; Grade 12 Student Planned Grad Trip to France.