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Spark Academy

Student-driven Learning Experiences Beyond the Classroom

At Spark Academy, we recognize and value that each student has a unique way of learning and engaging with their education.  We developed our Extended Learning Opportunity (ELO) program to provide authentic learning experiences that allow students to engage with academic content, community partners, and/or vocational material. Most of these experiences take place during a student’s third and fourth years. ELOs are credit-bearing, student-driven experiences that take place outside of a traditional classroom setting. These opportunities allow students to:


  • Experience Hands-on Work

  • Explore a Hobby or Academic Subject

  • Discover New Career Paths

  • Make Valuable Industry and Career Connections 

Spark Academy Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs)

ELO Components

Each Extended Learning Opportunity is comprised of some (if not all) of the following components:

• Product
• Research
• Presentation
• Reflection

Click below for a detailed description of these components and their respective requirements.


There are four types of ELOs in which students can participate. While each provides a different learning experience, they are all rigorous and relevant to a student’s course of study. Please peruse the types below as you decide which experience will be right for you, and visit our Student Resources page for information on getting started.

Independent Coursework

Students will work with a Mentor Teacher at Spark to adapt a traditional course of study to be suitable for independent work. The content and learning activities that a student covers will be aligned to course-specific competencies. An Independent Coursework ELO is to be utilized when a student either:

(a) Needs to remediate learning from a course that they struggled with in the past, or

(b) Strives to take a course that is not offered at Spark or via another pathway like VLACs. Usually, this will include topics that are more advanced than those typically covered at the high school level.


Students may not use Independent Coursework (or other types of) ELOs to opt out of a core Spark course that is offered if it fits in their schedule, or if there is another traditional alternative.


Credits: .25 to .5 credits per semester

Is a Community Partner required?  No

Mentor Teacher required?  Yes

Components required:

• Product

• Research

Career Exploration/ Job Shadow

Students will research the career, and learn about needed qualifications and pathways to enter the field of study. Informational interviews with Community Partners who work in the field are required, and job shadowing Community Partners is highly encouraged.

Credits: .25 credits per semester

Is a Community Partner required?  Yes

Mentor Teacher required?  No

Components required:

• Product

• Research

• Reflection

• Presentation


As defined by New Hampshire ELO literature, “internships are an exploratory opportunity offered by an employer to provide real-world experience to those looking to explore or gain the relevant knowledge and skills required to enter into a particular career field.” Students engaging in an Internship ELO spend regular time at a work site supervised by a Community Partner as they engage in work-based learning. Internships can be paid or unpaid.


Credits: .25 to .5 credits per semester

Is a Community Partner required?  Yes

Mentor Teacher required?  No

Components required:

• Product

• Research

• Reflection

Project-Based Learning

Project-based Learning ELOs provide an opportunity for students to answer an Essential Question that addresses a complex real-world issue. Students should use PBL ELOs to explore topics in an interdisciplinary manner, combining the knowledge and information from multiple fields to come to new understandings. 


Credits: .5 credits per semester

Is a Community Partner required? Typically

Mentor Teacher required?  Yes

Components required:

• Product

• Research

• Reflection

• Presentation

What Type of ELO is Best for You?

There are many different types of Extended Learning Opportunities to select from. Start by thinking about what fields or industries are of interest to you. Be sure to review the ELO Components and Types of ELOs described above. We’ll help guide you through the process.

Getting Started:  Ready. Set. ELO!

Are you interested in completing an ELO? Follow these steps.

✓ Complete the:

 ELO Request Form

Use this form to help you brainstorm and come up with a rough draft of your idea.


✓ Connect with Mr. Matt Long, ELO Coordinator

Submit your form to Mr. Long either in person or via email


✓ Schedule a meeting

Schedule a meeting with Mr. Long to get started (You'll find the scheduling link in your school email account).


Click below to access key ELO information, required paperwork, and quick links.

Community Partners

Community Partners are essential to our Extended Learning Opportunities program, providing mentorship and support for our students.


About ELO's

ELOs are:

• about rigorous academic standards based on standards and competencies

• an extension of the classroom

• a way for teachers to individualize instruction and share their passions

• about demonstrating growth and achievement

• an expansion beyond the school building and into the community

• before, during, and after school, on weekends, during vacations, and during the summer

• about applying knowledge

ELOs are NOT:

• an easy way for students to achieve credit

• intended to remove a student from a classroom

• meant to replace local teachers

• based on the amount of time spent on a task

• always school-based

• always during regular school hours 

• memorizing facts

Source: Woodsville High School ELO Program with permission from Scott Nichols

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