THE SCHOOL AND CURRICULUM
The Life Learning program combines
traditional academic classes with vocationally oriented themes
and activities to demonstrate the integration of learning required
in the real world. While most schools focus on either academic
or vocational skills for students that display an aptitude for
one or the other, we believe that learning in one area enhances
learning in the other. For example, students who have not displayed
an interest or aptitude in mechanical skills learn vocational skills
through academics (e.g. applying math skills to construction work).
Other students with limited academic skills but strong mechanical
aptitude enter academics through work at the Crossroads Café,
Organic Garden, Retail Bike Shop (e.g., learning entrepreneurial
and math skills through purchasing food, developing inventory,
or working the cash register).
The Life Learning Academy has been written up in several books including chapters in Literacies Across Educational Contexts (Brian V. Street, Editor, 2005) and Independence Movement in the U.S. Public Education (Unoura Hiroshi, 2001).
Arts Program & Crossroads Café
Café program exemplifies the approach to academics
and vocation at LLA. In our commercial kitchen, students
work with restaurant and catering chefs to prepare daily
meals for the school, as well as food for the commercial
Crossroads Café by the Bay, a café built
and operated by LLA students that sells an average of 120
meals daily. The café and academic classes teach
computer programming for inventory control, advanced math
for bookkeeping and communication and speech for sales
along with the culinary arts. Researching the history and
traditions of a given culture to determine menu and ingredients
becomes a lesson in history and cultural diversity that
enhances literacy and sharpens students’ library
and internet research skills. Students learn to grow
and harvest herbs and vegetables and plan meals with
an emphasis on health and nutrition.
|Crossroads Café by the Bay, renovated by Delancey Street residents.
and created a 1,000 square foot organic garden in our
schoolyard. The garden features a variety of produce,
an outdoor classroom, and native plant species. It is
a true group effort, with students, teachers and volunteers
working side-by-side to build garden beds and a greenhouse
and to plant and maintain crops. Our Biology, Math, Economics
and Culinary Arts teachers have joined forces to develop “Organic
Opportunities,” a hands-on garden curriculum that
teaches students about food production and nutrition.
Crops are used in the school’s culinary arts program
and student-run café, and our students have developed
a new business that provides organic produce to community
residents, who do not have any local access to fresh
Retail Bike Shop
The Roll & Eat Bike
Shop (“Roll & Eat”) is LLA’s newest
student-run business. The Roll & Eat, which was entirely
designed by our students, is a student-managed and operated
retail bike shop that provides bike repairs, bike parts
and merchandise, and also provides services to visitors,
residents, and the various school populations of Treasure
Island. The concept for the Roll & Eat grew out of
the school’s bike shop curriculum, which was designed
by our bike mechanic, math and English faculty. This
curriculum reengages students in the learning process
through the hands-on study of bicycle mechanics. LLA
students designed the shop based on a survey of community
residents and are excited to use their new skills to
contribute to the Treasure Island community.
Youth Fire and Police Science Program
These two programs are designed to imprint
in the students a sense of citizenship, civic pride,
discipline, responsibility, self-esteem, confidence,
self-respect, and an appreciation of the importance of
community service. The San Francisco Fire Department’s
Regional Training Center located on Treasure Island is
utilized for site visits and demonstrations. Curriculum
also utilizes the local full-use San Francisco Fire Station
located on the island. Students also learn about various
careers in law enforcement, the criminal justice system,
and emergency response methods. Upon completion of the
Youth Fire and Police Science Program, students have
gained experience that will be helpful in applying to
jobs in a variety of fields.
Students have an extensive
and immediate opportunity to develop contractor skills
through the design, renovation and repair of their school
site, which includes the LLA garden and greenhouse, as
well as off-site at the student-run bike shop and at
the Crossroads Café.
Art, Photography and Digital Imaging
photographer teaches beginning and advanced Black and
White Photography classes, and students learn the tools
and techniques at LLA’s on-site darkroom. Students also do dance and plays in our performing arts theatre and create art projects.
Students have access
to a state-of-the-art computer lab and high-speed internet
access. Computer training includes word processing, web
design and research, and PowerPoint presentation.
Majors - Fire Air Earth Water
All of Life Learning
Academy’s courses and activities fall
within one of the four environmental majors. The majors are focused
around the elements, fire, air, earth, and water. Within each major
is a set of vocational and academic activities that become a student’s
area of focus.
For example, students who chose the water major
spend a percentage of their time participating in lessons in
which water is a central theme. They participate in swim class,
study marine biology and oceanography, and examine the importance
of water to California’s
development. Students majoring in fire study the past, current,
and future technological uses of fire. They learn fire science
and apply it to their culinary training. In English class, students
examine the mythological and symbolic uses of fire in world literature.
Earth majors spend time working on landscape architecture projects,
including the cultivation of the LLA’s urban mini-farm that
produces much of the fresh vegetables used in LLA meals and is
home to 10 chickens, one turtle and two wayward ducks. Students
in the air major study astronomy in the LLA’s portable planetarium
and have the opportunity to go on stargazing camping trips where,
outside in the night sky, they observe the constellations they
studied in the classroom using a high-powered telescope.
Go to www.lifelearningacademy.sf.org to obtain project-based curriculum examples from Life Learning Academy.