What are Skills Acquisition Labs (SALs)?


.חֲנֹךְ לַנַּעַר עַל פִּי דַרְכּוֹ גַּם כִּי יַזְקִין לֹא יָסוּר מִמֶּנָּה

Educate a child according to his way, And even when s/he is old, s/he will not depart from it.

Skills Acquisition Labs (SALs) are a unique feature of The Idea School. As you can tell from our schedule, our day is divided into long blocks of time. This gives students the opportunity to learn material from different perspectives and through a variety of experiences, and it also gives them time to work on projects as due dates approach. We have the freedom to use these blocks of time flexibly: A teacher might give a frontal lecture, students might divide into groups to collaborate on a project, or they might work independently or in chavruta.

SALs in the Core Subjects

The SALs are another important element of the day and learning experience at The Idea School. In the SALs, students will be divided into groups based on their current skill and mastery levels, so teachers can personalize learning for each student. Idea School students largely won’t be tracked and will receive differentiated instruction in the classroom; the SALs are another way to provide a self-paced and tailored learning experience to students. And, because our Judaic Studies, Humanities, and STEM teachers will be co-teaching, we can rotate the SALs for the core subjects throughout the school day.

Additional SALs

We’ll also be using SALs to give students the skills they need to complete our many projects. For example, students will learn how to use Sefaria, an online Jewish text resource and source sheet builder, and we’ll also have SALs in Adobe Suite/Photoshop, sketching and drawing, CAD programming, GarageBand, videography, improv and drama, and more.

How the SALs Work

For example, on a day we’ve dedicated to particular SALs, during one of the two-hour blocks of time, one group of students might be in a Talmud SAL working on keywords, while another might be learning how to use Sefaria, an online repository of Jewish texts that allows users to make personalized source sheets. A third group might be getting a tutorial on how to use Photoshop.

Personalized Learning

The Skill Acquisition Labs are one important way The Idea School will tailor learning to meet the needs of each student and a vital part of how students will acquire the many skills they need to succeed in high school, college, and life.