Wildwood Definitions

Advisory: This program begins in 5th grade and helps ensure students’ academic, social, and emotional advancement. Fifth graders are prepared for their transition to middle school through the Advisory program. At the middle and upper schools, every student is a member of an Advisory group of about 15 students that meets four days a week and is guided by a teacher who serves as the student’s advocate and contact between school and home.

All School Meeting (ASM): All School Meetings are student-led forums where announcements and presentations are made and school traditions perpetuated. Elementary students—and many parents—gather every Friday morning in the Commons. Middle and upper school students meet on Mondays.

Block Building: Children learn to solve structural dilemmas and employ mathematics to understand patterns, geometric shapes, fractions, addition, and division.

Chalk Talk: This is a silent way to reflect, generate ideas, check on learning, develop projects, or solve problems. A teacher writes a question or statement on the board and students respond as they feel moved; they also respond to other students’ input.

Community Involvement: Wildwood sees each student as a leader who can make a difference in the world. Students learn to become stewards of positive social change through their contributions to the common good of their school, local, and global community. Community involvement is woven into the curriculum, and students are assessed on their community work.

Demo: Wildwood students demonstrate their understanding of knowledge or skills through demos, our way of checking for understanding in our project-based learning environment.

Divisions: Wildwood's middle and upper school is structured by divisions.

  • Division One is 6th grade and builds on students’ elementary coursework and supports a positive transition to a new campus.

  • Division Two is 7th and 8th grades and provides a solid skill base to pave the way for academic success in the upper school.

  • Division Three is 9th and 10th grades and engages maturing intellects with core courses and electives.

  • Senior Institute is 11th and 12th grades and provides an intellectually challenging curriculum that prepares students with the knowledge and skills needed for a successful college experience and beyond.

Essential Questions: To frame inquiry and promote critical thinking, essential questions provide a structure for organizing classes and units of study. Examples include the following: ”Where is the intersection of politics, economics, religion, and culture?” and “What does it mean to be an American?”

Elementary Exhibitions: Third, 4th, and 5th graders participate in exhibitions for performing arts, visual arts, and science as a culmination of their units of study.

Gateways (8th and 10th grade): Eighth and 10th grade students present oral presentations and portfolio work to their teachers, administrators, families, and peers. They evaluate and describe their strengths and stretches for each subject area. Work presented demonstrates students’ readiness for upper schoolwork in Division Three and Senior Institute. Seventh and 9th grade students are assigned to observe in preparation for their Gateway year.

Graduation Exhibitions (12th grade): As a requirement for graduation, all seniors present an oral defense of their academic and personal evolution to teachers, administrators, family, friends, and peers. Eleventh graders are assigned to observe in preparation for their senior year.

Habits of Mind and Heart: Wildwood’s middle and upper school program is built around a set of values and skills that will serve students throughout their lives. Everything from curriculum to assignments to narrative assessments is based on these Habits. Click here for a full list.

International Community Involvement (ICI): Wildwood’s ICI program provides upper school students with a unique opportunity to spend spring break living, providing service, and learning abroad.

Internship: Juniors and seniors work at a job site for academic credit to enrich their education, extend their learning experience, allow them to explore a career of interest in a professional setting, and build their college resume.

Life Skills: These personal qualities and abilities are woven into the daily fabric of the curriculum and inform every aspect of the elementary school program. Click here for a full list.

Maker Spaces: These collaborative lab-like environments, similar to a machine shop or cooperative artist studio, are where people with common interests in “making” meet to share resources and knowledge, to build, and make things.

Mind/Body Program: This program encourages developmentally appropriate exploration of what it means to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. The core content is delivered through a 7th and 9th grade health class and supplemented by work in Advisory.   

Multi-Age Classes: Wildwood uses multi-age classes in the primary grades and again in the middle and upper school. Research has shown that multi-age classes foster peer-to-peer learning and stimulate academic, social, and emotional development.

Narrative Assessments: These reviews provide a clear and rich understanding of a student’s progress in each subject area. Assessments prepare the student for a lifelong practice of creating goals and expectations, reviewing outcomes, and assessing his or her personal evolution.

Pod: The Pods are multi-age kindergarten and 1st grade classes that support each child’s cognitive and social/emotional development.

Portfolio: This is a collection of a student’s work over two years evaluated for strengths, stretches, and demonstration of readiness to advance to the next grade level.

Project-Based Learning: Wildwood offers an academic core curriculum organized around projects that encourage students to explore specific elements of a broader course outline. In the process, students acquire in-depth knowledge while gaining the skills and habits necessary to tackle new areas of learning with confidence. Projects make learning relevant to real-world applications.

Reflective Practice: Students learn to reflect on the progress of their learning through their journal entries, group debriefs, or conversations.

Reggio: The Reggio Emilia Approach to preschool education was started by parents and educators rebuilding the schools of the city of Reggio Emilia in Italy after World War II. The approach emphasizes working in small groups and supports the idea that children can construct their own knowledge and learn best through interactions with peers, adults, things in the world, and symbols. Wildwood uses certain aspects of Reggio at the elementary school, including “environment as third teacher” and “making learning visible through documentation.”

Rubric: A chart of clearly delineated expectations that guide students’ work, the rubric is based on the seven Habits of Mind and Heart. Rubrics are a tool that teachers use to assess student work based on how well each student meets established standards and completes all aspects of a project.

Senior Projects: Seniors complete their year by designing and executing independent projects organized around self-generated essential questions that target community involvement, a personal challenge, and academic passion.

Socratic Seminar: These group discussions promote critical thinking, a deeper understanding of a written text, and a deeper understanding of group members and of oneself.

SPARK (Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids): This is the foundation of the elementary P.E. program: active participation and practice set in a positive, nonthreatening atmosphere as the means for improving children’s physical skills, fitness, social development, and personal enjoyment.

Strength: Teachers and students use this term to categorize areas in which they excel—be it a project, an assignment, an academic subject, a talent, or a personal attribute.

Stretch: Teachers and students use this term to categorize areas in which growth and/or further learning is required.

Student-Led Conferences: Three times each year, students facilitate their own family conference, explaining the work that they are doing, discussing their strengths, stretches, and goals for the remainder of the school year. In this way, students take ownership of their learning under the guidance of their advisor.

Total Physical Response (TPR): This is a method for Spanish-language learning that employs a holistic, right-brain approach to facilitate second-language acquisition through contextual cues.

Wildwood Medal (5th grade): Fifth grade volunteers assemble a list of books to be nominated by their peers. The committee members read all the books, discuss them in detail, and over a series of meetings, pare down the nominations. One final book is named for the Wildwood Medal.


K–12th grades, authentically progressive since 1971.

Elementary School

12201 Washington Place
Los AngelesCA 90066
(310) 397-3134

Middle and Upper School

11811 Olympic Boulevard
Los AngelesCA 90064
(310) 478-7189
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