Interest groups are mini elective courses that meet in multi-age groups. They are held during the school day for one period (approximately 45 minutes) once per week on a cyclical schedule. Each cycle lasts between four to six weeks.
They provide a rich array of learning experiences beyond the prescribed curriculum as students are exposed to new life areas and learn experientially. Interest groups are facilitated by a teacher who oversees the group to ensure that its’ course outline is realistic and supportive for student growth. The groups can be and often are led by teachers, students (individually or as a team) or parents (also individually or as a team).
Before a cycle begins, each leader prepares and submits (to the designated teacher facilitator) a proposal including the course objective, description of the activities, necessary materials, appropriate age level, maximum number of students and if there is a nominal fee (to afford additional materials). Students make a list of three preferred groups and at random, a choice of one is assigned per student.
Examples of past Interest groups include but are not limited to poetry, football, painting, dramatic arts, knitting, felting, yoga, strategic board games, photography, creative writing, yoga and puppetry. In addition, depending on the topic, interest groups provide further support concepts taught during structured instructional periods. Students are able to learn both technical skills and how to effectively work in groups.
Interest groups have become an enriching contribution to the Unity learning environment as they provide students the opportunity to take on leadership roles.