Experiential Learning

Ben Zoma says: Who is wise? He who learns from every person.
– Ethics of Our Fathers 4:1

Programming that extends beyond the bounds of the classroom helps students take their learning to a higher level.

Hands-on, personal learning experiences that purposefully engage students in direct experience help students to increase knowledge, develop skills, and clarify values, all taking their learning to a deeper level. At Denver Jewish Day School, every grade (K-12) incorporates hands-on learning, field work, and other experiential opportunities into the curriculum.

Advisory Program

Middle school is an important time for students not only academically, but also socially and emotionally. At Denver JDS as our students begin to blossom into young adults, we embrace the reality of their social and emotional needs and are especially attuned to them through our middle school Advisory Program. Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders meet daily, in a small group, with a faculty advisor. This "check-in" allows us to develop and maintain a close connection with our students. It also helps to ensure that every student feels known and has at least one adult on the faculty with whom they can process and problem solve. The advisory curriculum includes:

  • health education
  • self-advocacy
  • team building
  • successful peer-to-peer relationships
  • academic organization

Additionally, all middle school students participate in the school's social and emotional wellness program run by Dean of Technology and Programs Josh Lake and licensed psychologist Dr. Rachel Gall.

 

Hands-On Learning

Believing that students learn best by doing, teachers in every grade (K-12) work to incorporate experiential elements into their classes through guest speakers, experiments, debates, simulations, and other opportunities for students to truly experience their learning.

 

Field Work

Connected, immersive opportunities take classroom learning deeper and make it more meaningful. In the Lower Division, these opportunities include Helping Hands projects (such as visiting Jewish Family Service of Colorado, meeting and learning about service dogs, building and delivering bikes for low-income kindergartners to name a few); visits to shofar and matzah factories for younger students; theater events, trips to Roxborough State Park, Miller's Farm, and backstage at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts , as well as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for higher grades. In the Upper Division, opportunities include trips specifically tied to class curriculum such as a visit to a makerspace for research or a trip to the Denver Art Museum to view a special exhibit.

 

Overnight Trips and Programs

Overnight trips are one important component of the Denver JDS experiential learning curriculum. Beginning in third grade, each class includes an overnight trip in its curriculum. Destinations complement classroom learning units, and the shared experiences foster powerful bonds among students. Extended time away from parents and the rest of the school community also promotes independence and supports social and developmental growth.

 

Shabbat Retreats

Each fall, Denver JDS middle school and high school students participate in an in-town Shabbat retreat (Shabbaton) at a local synagogue. In the spring, seventh through 12th graders are invited to an out-of-town Shabbaton in the mountains.

Organized and led under the guidance of the Upper Division student council, these inclusive programs give Denver JDS students an authentic opportunity to learn together and build meaningful relationships with one another across grade levels. In keeping with our pluralistic approach, all programming complies with the laws of Shabbat, and all food is certified kosher.

Color War

Color War is a unique school tradition that takes place each spring at Denver JDS. The week-long program incorporates academic, athletic, artistic, and Judaic components. All students in grades six through 12 come together for a time of intense learning and growth — that's also a lot of fun. Lower Division students love to get in on the fun of Color War by cheering on Upper Division students during competitions. Our fourth and fifth graders get a "taste of” Color War by participating in some of the week's activities. Click here to learn more about Color War.

 

Overnights/Trips

Third Grade

Denver Aquarium OR the Denver Zoo

Students "camp in" overnight at the aquarium or zoo where they roam exhibits and learn about animal habitats.

 

Fourth Grade

Plains Conservation Center OR Denver Museum of Nature & Science

At the Plains Conservation Center students experience the life of a pioneer homesteader or plains Native American. Weather permitting, they spend the night in a tipi. At the Denver Museum of Nature and Science they learn about Colorado wildlife and the mysteries of space. They may even get to take in a planetarium show.

Fifth Grade

YMCA of the Rockies

For three days and two nights, fifth graders learn survival techniques for living in the rocky mountains.

Sixth Grade

JCC Ranch Camp

Through ropes courses, swimming and hiking, sixth graders focus on team building and gain a deeper understanding about being part of a larger community.

Seventh Grade

YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch

Students experience the great outdoors and local history by visiting historical sites in and around Granby.

Eighth Grade

Durango, Colorado

Students spend five days focused on American studies and southwest cultural experiences.

Ninth Grade

Los Angeles

Students travel by air for the first time as class to spend four days learning about "Jewish L.A."

10th Grade

Israel

Our 10th graders consistently report that their six-week Hebrew Immersion Program (HIP) experience is an extraordinary and life-changing event. Click here to learn more about HIP.

11th Grade

Washington, D.C.

Students spend five days in the nation's capital, learning about political activism and civic engagement in the context of Jewish values and principles.

12th Grade

Senior Development Program

Students go to Seattle to explore themes of leadership and gain exposure to innovative business models and organizations such as Google, Amazon, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. During their final semester at Denver JDS, 12th graders take a three-week off-site course comprised of life lessons, community service, and the work world. Students visit institutions such as Rose Medical Center and the Anti-Defamation League and also learn about topics like personal finance and health in order to explore career options and learn valuable life lessons before leaving Denver JDS.