SIG at Boston University Academy: Academics

Academic Program

The curriculum at SIG is based on a model of academics that involves enrichment and acceleration. We offer open-ended and flexible courses in multidisciplinary fields that encourage students to explore interests and passions, as well as engage in concepts that they may not encounter in core school curriculum at their age level, and to progress within those concepts at a rigorous and challenging pace that is appropriate for them. Each course is conceptual in its description and will therefore vary somewhat by campus, as it evolves according to students' interests and needs. The beauty of offering a summer learning environment is the luxury of not being constrained by tests, prescribed curriculum parameters, and the limitations of pre-determined products and assessments. This luxury enhances an environment that strives to unleash the abilities, ideas, and thinking of fertile minds in ways that allow students to enhance, discover, and pursue their talents and passions.

This type of learning environment is productive for most types of gifted and talented learners - those who have demonstrated advanced abilities through traditional achievement and assessments and those who are creative, productive problem-solvers who show great potential in wide-ranging human endeavors. Each learner is treated as unique. We encourage students to accept responsibility for the direction of their learning and to participate in self-assessment while at SIG, through informal preferences as well as through the development of personal objectives. We understand that learning is most effective when students enjoy their classes. Therefore, we encourage our Instructors to use real and authentic content that addresses the skills, interests, and learning styles of each student. In a three-week program, our goal is to stimulate ideas on an individual level and expand the ways young people think and approach challenges as they construct their own understandings while proceeding along their lifelong journeys of learning.

Parallel to the academic enrichment program is our social/emotional component, so it is fitting to mention briefly this component within our approach to academics. We believe that students' emotional happiness is paramount to their overall self-fulfillment and is as important in our programs as is the academic component. We design our programs and student activities to enhance social interaction, acceptance, and fun to the greatest extent possible. Students consistently report that long-lasting friendships are among the most meaningful long-term benefits of their SIG experience.

Instructional Techniques

We design instruction to challenge the student through course content, processes, and products within a learning environment that is flexible and open-ended. Instructors direct activities and content around the central concept of the course. Our goal is for students to engage in cognitive processes that require critical, complex, and creative thinking and problem solving. Instructors begin each course by assessing the knowledge and skills that students bring to each course.

Course activities deliver and enhance course content and objectives in meaningful and relevant ways. Students are encouraged to apply newly gained knowledge to real and authentic problems and situations through products that are as typical as possible of professionals in selected fields of study. Students are further encouraged to apply self-, peer-, and instructor-generated criteria to the assessment of their processes and products for the purpose of personal growth and awareness. Our hope is that students will continue to pursue interests, questions, and projects that they began during a SIG session well into the coming year and beyond, on their personal academic journeys, as they delve deeply into studies that interest and intrigue them.