Course Content

A course may be subject-specific, like a 9th-grade science course. Or it may be interdisciplinary, as with the Quest Forward Academy course called Reading, Writing, and Thinking, which combines English and Social Science. A course may also focus primarily on a life skill, such as our Me to We empathy skills course, or our micro-courses on each of the essential habits.

Course Length

Quest Forward Courses vary in length, ranging from a few weeks for a micro-course, to a full school year. Most high-school oriented courses are designed to cover either a nine-week term, or an entire semester, and both formats ensure sufficient coverage of the requisite concepts and skills.

Course Structure

Borrowing from game design, each course is structured into multiple “levels,” with each level focused on a particular concept, theme, or skill. Within a level, course designers specify a number of quests, including “core” quests,” which students are required to complete, as well as “choice” quests, from which students choose based on their interests.

With this design, courses provide both the necessary scaffolding and structure for students to discover content, develop skills, and practice the essential habits, while having the freedom to follow their interests and proceed at the pace that is appropriate for them to meet their goals.

Course Skills

When creating a course, curriculum designers first create a “skills framework,” outlining the academic or functional skills the course is intended to develop. The skills framework provides the backbone to which subject-specific standards and content requirements are linked during course level and quest design.

Course Assessment

Each course contains one or more “Mastery Levels,” where students demonstrate proficiency in a given topic or skill by creating an artifact or or portfolio of artifacts as evidence of competence. Mentors evaluate student work using a rubric and provide detailed feedback to students, who then have the opportunity to revise their artifact to refine and improve their competence.

Students and mentors assess overall student growth using two distinct and complementary approaches:

Course Skills Assessments

At defined points in each course, mentors create a detailed skills assessment using rubrics defined for the course skills. These are established by the particular course skills framework underlying the design of the course. The data generated by the skills assessments are applied to each student’s skills profile, which reflects their growth over the entire time the student works with Quest Forward Learning.

Essential Habit Reviews

On a regular basis, students complete “Habit Reviews,” by which they self-assess their proficiency in any of the six Quest Forward Essential Habits. Mentors also complete Habit Reviews for students and use both reviews for feedback discussions and targeted mentoring. The data generated by habit reviews are applied to each student’s habit profile, which reflects their growth relative to the six Quest Forward Essential Habits.

Dig Deeper

Take a look at Featured Courses below or dive into details on quests

Featured Courses

U.S. Foundation Phase/9th Grade

Mathematics

Learners will explore mathematics as both the language of science and as a general way of reasoning about the world. Mathematics allows us to explore how things work, to understand why things work that way, and to investigate what we can do to make them work better. Mathematics provides skills for reasoning that improve our understanding and our communication across all fields of human endeavor. Toward this end, we focus on mathematical skills, and how to reason and experiment with them, rather than on rote memorization and computation. Learners become skilled users of mathematics and its tools.

  • 11
    Levels
  • 11
    Core Quests
  • 51
    Choice Quests
Download Course Summary

Sample Quests

One Giant Leap

How do you know that bungee jumping is safe?

Overview

Bungee jumping - it can be thrilling and terrifying at the same time! How do you know that bungee jumping is safe? In order for bungee jumping to be exciting and safe, the bungee has to be just the right length. Experiment by creating a bungee jumping experience for a toy or small object. To figure out the right length of "rope," you will start with some very short jumps, and then use math to predict how much "rope" you will need for a big 4 meter jump. Test the limits and discover what bungee jumping has to do with math.

Artifacts
  • A video of your experiment, including the model you used to make the prediction and a reflection on your model.

Race Against the Machine

How can you predict which mode of transportation would win in a race?

Overview

Your group of friends is going to watch a movie that starts soon after your day is finished at school. What is the quickest way is to get to the theater? Should you walk, ride a bike, have your parents drive you, or take the bus? Which modes of transportation will get you there on time?

Artifacts
  • Create a presentation for your mentor that summarizes your findings. What did you observe? What were the factors you considered? What did you actually experience?
  • When you changed things up for the second race, what did you change? What guidance might you give to future learners thinking about doing this quest?

How Big is a Tiny House?

How much space do you need to live?

Overview

Imagine your ideal house. How big is it? For some, the ideal house is tiny! Find out the advantages and disadvantages of living tiny. Design your own tiny house and learn to manipulate units to come up with interesting information about it. Calculate area and volume to compare the home you live in to a tiny house. Think about what you would lose (or gain) by living tiny. Initiate yourself in the secrets of dimensional analysis.

Artifacts
  • Build a scale model house using the unit conversion technique built in the previous activity.

Reading, Writing, Thinking

The goal of Reading, Writing, Thinking is to give learners control of the messages they encounter in their lives. Whether on screens or in books, whether clear or hidden, by text or by voice, learners are constantly bombarded by information. Navigating successfully in the world depends on making sense of this barrage. Communicating ideas requires mastering how to understand and how to create such messages. As clear writing and clear thinking go hand-in-hand, these skills provide the foundation for thinking across the different subjects.

  • 11
    Levels
  • 18
    Core Quests
  • 38
    Choice Quests
Download Course Summary

Sample Quests

You Will Always Be Mango Street (Part 1)

How does environment, like neighborhood and community, shape our identity

Overview

During this quest, you will read vignettes from the novel The House on Mango Street by Mexican-American author Sandra Cisneros. The main character, Esperanza, a young Latina girl, grows up in Chicago and struggles to find a "home," or her place in life. You will reflect on how your home and environment shape your identity as you read her story.

Artifacts

You Will Always Be Mango Street (Part 2)

How do you create a claim and write an introductory paragraph for a literary analysis?

Overview

You've read some or all of The House on Mango Street, and you've tried your hand at quite a bit of analysis. Will Esperanza "always be Mango Street"? How has she been shaped by her environment? Let's explore those questions, and use them to write a claim and an introduction to a paper worth reading!

Artifacts
  • An introductory paragraph

This I Believe

What core values drive your daily life?

Overview

Could you summarize your core beliefs in a single essay? What if that essay were so short it could be read out loud in under four minutes? That's the challenge for this quest! You will be engaging with the radio program This I Believe, which, for over fifty years, has been asking people, "What do you believe?"

Artifacts
  • Complete a brainstorming activity handout

Science

This course provides a grounding in the techniques of observation and experimentation that are the foundation of science. Learners come to see the practice of science not as a collection of facts, nor as a set of rules about unrelated topics, but as a general method for approaching any problem in the world, and for finding answers. In doing so, learners explore core concepts from physics, chemistry, biology, and earth science, not as topics in isolation, but as hard-won knowledge that flows from the careful and rigorous applications of the tools of science.

  • 12
    Levels
  • 11
    Core Quests
  • 25
    Choice Quests
Download Course Summary

Sample Quests

Will it Levitate

How can you use magnetism to build a floating car?

Overview

In this quest, you'll learn all about the nature of magnetic fields, as well as how they can be used to exert a force on any object--and even overcome gravity. You'll observe some magnetic fields of your own. Then, you'll apply your understanding to build a floating car.

Artifacts
  • Design and create a floating car. Be able to explain the design using visual representations if necessary.

Playground Momentum

Create a presentation that uses video evidence to analyze your soccer kick in terms of momentum and impulse, and compare with the group average.

Overview

What do playground games, colliding objects, and sports all have in common? Hint: They all have to do with things in motion, and what it takes to move (or stop) them. In this quest, you'll learn all about the big idea that makes it easier or harder to get going: momentum. You'll have a chance to revisit some childhood memories, experiment with marbles, and even use video evidence to become a better athlete. Get rolling!

Artifacts
  • Use video evidence to analyze your soccer kick in terms of momentum and impulse.

Opposites Attract

What is a Magnet

Overview

You’ve probably heard the expression "opposites attract," which often refers to an unlikely couple in a romantic comedy. But forget couching it with a bowl of popcorn. Instead, let’s look at the other attractive force in science: magnetism. In this quest, you will explore the relationship between charge and attraction by making a bag float, blending up a money smoothie, and even designing your own magic trick using magnets. Get ready to test the laws of attraction!

Artifacts
  • Design an experiment to test static electricity and collect data in table form.
  • Create and perform a magic trick that uses the properties of magnetism.

Social Science

Contemporary problems are global, embedded in contexts of history and values, and can be understood only when viewed from multiple perspectives with varied strategies. The Foundation Phase fosters the ability to investigate these problems, to evaluate the avalanche of information available, to sort fact from opinion, to innovate potential solutions, to communicate one’s views, and ultimately, to lead. By expanding the domain of inquiry from immediate experience to the wider world, the Social Science curriculum provides important opportunities for learners to apply the skills they have learned in Reading, Writing, Thinking, and in Science and Mathematics.

  • 10
    Levels
  • 13
    Core Quests
  • 42
    Choice Quests
Download Course Summary

Sample Quests

You Have the Right To…

How has the idea of human rights emerged and evolved?

Overview

You have the right to do a lot of things as a US citizen. But what do you have the right to do as a human being? Discover how the idea of human rights was talked about in history, and how the idea of rights has changed over time. You'll also have the chance to debate whether everyone has the right to the Internet.

Artifacts
  • T-chart completed with points "for" and "against" the Internet as a human right

Geography of Coffee

What global issues are linked to our coffee consumption?

Overview

"How many people do you know that need coffee to stay awake? Coffee is one of the most well-loved drinks in the United States. But despite that, most coffee is not grown here and must be imported from other countries. In this quest, you will research US coffee consumption, find out where coffee comes from, and learn about how the coffee trade affects coffee-producing countries."

Artifacts
  • Map of the top ten coffee-producing countries
  • A presentation (infographic, presentation, poster, etc.) that teaches others about a coffee-producing country.

Venturing Vikings

Who decides what historical events are recorded and remembered?

Overview

How do you record historical events? Are you a biased historian? As the Vikings ventured into Europe, existing societies recorded accounts of their interactions with these Norse invaders. Were Vikings always violent raiders, or were they also fair rulers? Consider how the perspective of the recorder influences history.

Artifacts
  • A one-page comparison of how you and a friend remember a shared experience.

Exploration and Discovery Phases

Thinking by Design

The world we interact with is the result of intentional or unintentional “designs” that support or inhibit the way we live and work every day. The Thinking by Design course empowers students to identify these designs and to become active designers who can intentionally change the world around them. This course will push students to connect with their community, identify problems that affect real people, and create meaningful solutions that address these issues.

Download Course Summary

Sample Quests

Community Problems

How can we utilize the steps of design thinking to identify a community problem?

Overview

What are community problems you see around you every day? Can you think of people that you care about that are frequently impacted by an issue? By adopting the design thinking process, you can start to identify these problems, observe multiple points of view, and be an excellent and objective problem solver! This quest will highlight how empathy can be used to enhance observation and discovery in order to identify meaningful problems.

Artifacts
  • "Create a document that contains a general problem statement that the group wants to further research, why you chose this problem, points of view you should consider when researching this area, and research to help guide your decisions."

Prototyping and Testing

What are prototyping and testing, and how can they be utilized to build the best solution to your problem?

Overview

As the old adage goes, "Practice makes perfect!" The more you practice a task, the better you will become at performing that task! The same is true when you are pitching a solution for your problem. Prototyping and testing is a way to practice and gather feedback about your theories, examining what works and what does not work before you put your ideas into action.

Artifacts
  • Complete the "Testing Analysis and Review Worksheet" and present your original prototype to be reviewed.

Thinking Like a Designer

In what ways can we utilize design thinking in our everyday life?

Overview

How do designers come up with so many great ideas? Think about your phone. Think about your computer or tablet. Look around you to see the influence of an individual designer or a team of designers. They don't wait for inspiration to strike. They use a method for purposeful thinking. In this quest, explore the five-phase design thinking methodology that designers at Stanford d- school created and begin to use this method to solve problems and make connections.

Artifacts
  • A journal entry, or video related reflecting on design thinking.

Nature (Mini Course)

Every day, students make choices or rely on the choices of others about how to change, use, and live with the natural world. Some of today’s interactions with nature have new twists—genetic modification, virtual worlds—but themes of struggling with nature and working with it are constant features in our history and stories. In this mini-course, students research and analyze instances of people grappling with nature, from architecture and art to westward migration and the dustbowl to contemporary technologies and food production. And in the process, they will develop a picture of how they approach the world around them, as part of a class journal on Nature.

  • 4
    Levels
  • 10
    Core Quests
  • 20
    Choice Quests
Sample Quests

What’s Native, What’s Not?

Which species belong where in a globalized world?

Overview

As globalization makes us more connected with people and places around the world, what happens to natural ecosystems, species, and cultures? How have humans reshaped the world? In this quest, you will consider these questions in the context of fire ants, kudzu, raccoons, parrots, and pigs--all on the move in our globalized world.

Artifacts
  • Create a plan for handling or managing a controversial species

Land Art

What is the relationship between art and nature?

Overview

Nature often inspires art, but what happens when artists use nature to make their art? In this quest you will look at some works by the artist Andy Goldsworthy. From fallen trees to piles of rocks, Goldsworthy's pieces make his audience think about the relationship between art and nature, and humans and nature.

Artifacts
  • Create an art appreciation for a work by Andy Goldsworthy.

To Build a Plot

What make a good plot?

Overview

Plot is essential in order for a story to be successful. But what is plot? And how do you create a compelling one? Discover the key elements of this important piece of storytelling by reading Jack London's "To Build a Fire."

Artifacts

Rocket Science (and Math)

Engage in the math and science of projectiles to design a device that can launch an object and hit a target. Students explore approaches to propulsion to build their launchers, model the trajectory of their projectiles with quadratic functions, and use mathematical analysis based on that function to determine where projectiles will land. In a culminating project, students will apply their models to hit several targets after a process of testing and refining their designs.

  • 3
    Levels
  • 19
    Core Quests
  • 13
    Choice Quests
Sample Quests

Turning a Corner

How does something turn?

Overview

What makes something move? Just as importantly, what makes a moving object change direction? In this quest, you'll investigate these questions by running lines and squares and throwing curve balls. Finally, you'll relate these experiences to rocketry. To the moon!

Artifacts

Speed Walking is an Olympic Sport

How fast can you walk?

Overview

Tom Bosworth set a world record in 2017, covering one mile in just 5 minutes and 31 seconds. Running a 5:30 mile is an impressive feat for any athlete, but Tom isn't a runner. He's a speed walker. Along with other unusual Olympic events like curling and table tennis, "racewalking" is a highly competitive event where walkers walk faster than most people run. In this quest, use experimentation to figure out just how fast you can walk. Use your measurement skills and hold a friendly competition to crown the fastest racewalker among your peers.

Artifacts
  • Create a graph of relationship between distance and time for constant, positive, and negative acceleration.

Follow The Path (Part 2)

What is the path of my launched projectiles?

Overview

In Follow The Path--Part I, you saw how the path of a projectile follow a parabolic shape. In this quest, you will see how well your own projectiles follow a parabolic trajectory

Artifacts
  • Labeled picture of a Motion Shot dynamic photograph of your projectile in motion, showing at least five projectile positions and the parabolic trajectory followed, along with its quadratic equation

Life Skills and Essential Habits

Me to We

Adolescence is a critical time to develop empathy. In recent years, studies have shown empathy can impact areas such as leadership, career, business, relationships, and academics. It is especially critical for our youth, as one of these studies showed that 2010 college graduates had empathy levels 40% lower than their counterparts in the 1980s and 1990s. There has also been a rise in cyberbullying in recent years. The time for empathy training is now.

  • 10
    Levels
  • 11
    Core Quests
  • 37
    Choice Quests
Download Course Summary

Sample Quests

Feel-o-phile

What are emotions and what do they do?

Overview

"We all have experienced feelings...and emotions. Wait. What's the difference? In this quest, we'll learn everything there is to learn about emotions and feelings! What are they? Where do they come from? Why do I have them? What are the pros and cons of them? And...what's the difference between feelings and emotions, anyway?"

Artifacts
  • Create an artifact that demonstrates what life would be like without emotions.
  • Create a social media profile for at least 2 of the 6 basic emotions.

Boundary Roads

How do I create boundaries to maintain emotional safety?

Overview

"As we become more empathic, we may also find ourselves feeling different, new, or more intense emotions. This is normal and a really healthy part of feeling empathy. But it is also very important that we learn how to make sure we do not become overwhelmed by these emotions. In other quests in this level, we will learn about managing difficult emotions and stress when and if they come up. In this quest, we will explore personal boundaries, which are what we put in place to help us stay physically, emotionally, and mentally safe."

Artifacts
  • Create a Personal Bill of Rights

The Empathy Advantage: A Retrospective

What is empathy, and why should I want to cultivate it?

Overview

"Kara's too emotional." "Victoria just cares too much." "Matt's so cool. He doesn't care about anything." "Bryson's soft, dude." "Oh yeah, Gina? She's so...nice." Whether it seems obvious or not, all of these statements are pretty critical of empathy. Empathy is often seen as a weakness, just about being "nice," or even being a pushover. It's okay if you think that right now! But, guess what? Empathy is actually a strength that has the power to change the world. In this quest, we will learn about the strength of empathy and how empathy (or the lack of it) has shaped the course of history.

Artifacts
  • An alternative timeline of events or a historical figure that lacked empathy

Ready to Chart Your Own Course to a Better Education Experience?

Start by learning more about quests, the basic building blocks of a Quest Forward Education.

Get the latest in our newsletter