A New Vision for the Adolescent Program at Tall Pines School.


After many years of research, Tall Pines School has opened a new adolescent program, called The Zone. It is an exciting program for the Grade 7 and 8 students from both the Montessori and Junior School streams, which brings to life the full potential of academic challenge, leadership development, information technology, and outdoor education, for a fully integrated approach to 21st Century education.

Think about what it means to be in “The Zone.”  You are focused and intent, in the moment, completely engaged in the experience, and performing at your peak. You have a sense of freedom and authenticity, time appears to be fluid and moves more quickly, and you feel alive. Your thinking takes on new routes in problem solving; you are creative and think “outside the box.”  The more alive and engaged you feel, the more you can contribute.

In The Zone adolescent program at Tall Pines School, the curriculum is project based and geared towards real life experience. It is aimed at engaging students in addressing real world concerns. These are the issues that are important to humanity; they are the questions that matter.  

Teachers will guide students in making connections and seeing the relationships among the discrete subject areas, as well as with the world beyond the classroom walls. Students will be the creators of content which is both integrated and interdisciplinary. 21st Century skills, technologies and multimedia will be applied in a student-centered program in which the classroom has a global perspective and awareness.  The curriculum will therefore be relevant, rigorous and real world, and will address the relevant multiple literacies of the 21st Century: multicultural; media; ecological, artistic and creative; financial; cyber and informational; social and emotional; and physical fitness and health. All of these literacies are essential for the life of the students as they grow beyond adolescence and into adulthood.  Students will be challenged in creative ways according to those literacies, in order to meet their potential.

The teachers in The Zone will emphasize active learning. They are facilitators to guide the students in their learning, providing a supportive and creative atmosphere while at the same time cultivating a lifelong love of learning. Teachers are no longer content deliverers, but are experience facilitators. They will use a variety of assessment techniques, and will promote academic excellence through a diverse set of teaching strategies. They value each and every student for their unique talents and challenge them to their full potential. Success is the goal, and each student is considered to be a capable and independent learner.

A key element of The Zone program is continuity between all areas of the curriculum and the program components.  An environment especially prepared for the students is essential for that continuity, and hence the success of the program.

Classes will take place in a remarkable new learning space designed especially for the learning needs of the adolescent students. Four classroom modules in the south wing of the school are combined into a learning centre which is organized, stimulating, comfortable, and designed for collaboration. Flexible, adaptable furniture provides spaces for group studies, formal instruction, breakout groups, individual work spaces, informal learning spaces, and digital collaboration. The environment also provides a life skills area, including a full kitchen, and a cloak room where students keep their personal items organized.  The whole learning space lends itself perfectly to activities such as videoconferencing, podcasting, and conversations with others around the globe.

Program components include: high level academics, with student achievement through authentic, meaningful learning; the Foundation Cornerstones of Personal Development, Leadership Skills, Community Service and Experiential Education; the Capstone Project; Life Skills; Information Technology; Specialist Classes; Field Trips; and Electives according to the interests of the students. Laptop or notebook computers are considered essential for each student. The school recommends choosing a device which meets your own requirements and budget, however, do take a look at the ‘bring your own device’ guidelines which are found within our program brochure for The Zone.

A classroom communication plan will provide open and honest communication among students, teachers and parents, since a partnership between home and school is critical to student success. The school website and blog provide more general information, while email, agendas and classroom whiteboards will provide specifics. An online platform for The Zone will also provide for dialogue and communication about essential things to know, such as classroom assignments, calendars, due dates and assessments.

Please join us in this remarkable journey for our adolescent students.