Ross Learning System’s online tools—the Project Circles web app, the Spiral Interactive, and the Histomap—allow students and teachers to interact with the curriculum in ways that promote deeper and more enduring understandings of both content and procedural knowledge.
The Project Circles web app guides students in collaboratively assessing the sustainability of a selected location, in either the contemporary or a historical time period. Through research, investigation, and fieldwork, students determine how the location rates in terms of sustainable culture, politics, ecology, and economics. They note how they arrived at the ratings and generate a profile circle as a visual representation of their findings, including the connections among the four areas assessed. The final part is proposing and engaging in systems-based activism aimed at change in an area marked by a critically low level of sustainability. This tool draws upon the Circles of Social Life approach described online at CirclesOfSustainability.org.
The interactive model of the Ross Spiral Curriculum embodies the systems approach to education, presenting a nonlinear representation that allows in-depth exploration of its content. The interdisciplinary Learning Experiences and Integrated Projects are mapped onto a timeline of history and visualized as networks. The model invites analysis of cross-grade thematic connections, or threads. Among these is the Sustainability thread, which follows this critical curricular theme from kindergarten through twelfth grade, highlighting the units and Learning Experiences that features studies of sustainability. The Spiral Interactive was developed in collaboration with Santiago Ortiz of Moebio Labs.
The Histomaps are a visualization of the Ross Spiral Curriculum in a chronological, two-dimensional format at each grade level that emphasizes the integrated learning experiences among domains and traces the links between related content across these disciplines. It also serves as a tool for grade-level teams to view and identify common curricular elements and refine their relationships over a year of learning. Overlays reveal and explicate the cross-grade threads that are present as patterns and relationships in the Cultural History narrative.