Frequently Asked Questions

We get asked these questions all the time – let us know what we missed! 

1.     Is there an honors option?
Yes.  All Innovation Lab students can opt into an honors level for each of their courses.  There is precedent for the honors option structure in departments across the school, including Social Studies, Science and Technology, and Art, where students take elective classes that are not segregated into honors and non-honors sections.  Students in those courses who wish to challenge themselves are provided with alternative and/or additional assignments that have been approved by the particular department.  Students in the honors option would have a weighted grade point average just as all other students taking a rigorous course load.

2.     How will teaching be differentiated in Innovation Lab?
Differentiation will be a natural part of Innovation Lab as teachers take on the role of facilitator rather than instructor. Core content and essential questions are covered in larger group sessions. Students are then expected to research, reflect, and create projects based on this content.  During this time, teachers will have flexibility to tailor teaching and materials to students’ needs.

3.     Will students get all the required credits and content that is needed to graduate?
Students will be taught the same content and skills as other GHS students and meet the requirements set by the state of Connecticut, Common Core, and Next Gen Science Standards.  All courses offered through Innovation Lab meet NCAA and College Admissions requirements.  As with all students in GHS, counselors will monitor student progress to ensure all credits and other requirements are met before graduation. Students will have the same GHS transcript as other students and be prepared to take the next course in the relevant course sequence (for example, students in Algebra 2 will be prepared to take PreCalculus).

4.     Do students in Innovation Lab take tests?

Yes. Students are occasionally quizzed on class content in order to ensure they are understanding what is being taught. Quizzes are more frequent in social studies and math classes, but every InLab student takes midterm and final exams along with everyone else. Students are primarily assessed through large quarter projects where they must demonstrate their skills and knowledge in a variety of areas. All students should understand that on top of learning the required course material, they must also complete a culminating project. Thus, students must be willing to go above and beyond in order to complete their best work.

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5.     Can my child still take AP courses?

Because of our philosophy of rigorous interdisciplinary teaching which incorporates topics outside the scope of the AP curriculum, it becomes more difficult for students to take AP classes in Science, Math, Social Studies, and English during their Sophomore and Junior years. Although a balance is able to be achieved between Innovation Lab courses and AP courses, scheduling may be a challenge as well as managing overall course load. In the past, however, students have taken classes such as AP Biology, AP Statistics, AP Psychology, and AP world languages with minimal interference, while still living up to their full academic potential through Innovation Lab’s project-based approach. In senior year, students have the ability to take a broader range of AP courses, as Innovation Lab consists of only Design Studio for one semester and either social science or science research. Students are free to take any AP test they wish and can choose to prepare for these tests should they elect to take them. Innovation Lab does not include Applied Arts, World Language, and elective courses, so students may enroll in AP classes associated with these departments with more ease. (See #5 for feedback from colleges/universities.)

6.     How will this change in program affect college applications and admissions?
Just as with other programs at the high school, a description of Innovation Lab will be included with an applicant’s transcript to help the college admissions offices understand the level of rigor and the ideology of Innovation Lab.  Through special codes on the transcript, a portfolio of work, and teacher recommendations that can include descriptions of a student’s projects and community involvement, colleges will become aware of the truly unique experience we offer. At present the team has spoken to more than 25 colleges and universities, including Ivy League schools.  All of the admissions offices at these institutions have offered support of our program and have expressed the fact that enrolling in Innovation Lab will not disadvantage a student applying to college; in fact, they’ve said students’ individual projects, stories, and community connections can set them apart from other students. College admissions is changing to support programs like ours.

7.     Can students with an IEP be admitted into Innovation Lab?
Innovation Lab faculty will work with House resource room teachers and other support staff to provide all students with the tools that they need to succeed.  It should be noted, however, that while Innovation Lab could be for anyone, it might not be the right choice for everyone.

8.     What courses do I take with Innovation Lab? What courses do I take with greater GHS?
Courses within Innovation Lab (credits): English (1.0), Science (1.0), Social Studies (1.0), and Math (1.0). In addition, students will be enrolled in Innovation Lab Design Studio (1.0), an Applied Arts course in which students learn the necessary skills and technology to turn their ideas into original projects, pursue community connections to support their work, and document and reflect upon their progress.

Courses outside of Innovation Lab and within greater GHS (credits): World Language (1.0), PE/Wellness (0.5), Electives (up to 1.5).  Students may have opens depending upon the number of electives they chose to take.  For example, a student who chooses to take a 1.0 credit Elective in greater GHS may have 3 opens per greater GHS eight block cycle.

9.     How do students get accepted into Innovation Lab?
There is a short application that students must complete in order to be considered for Innovation Lab.  Most of the questions require that the student reflect upon his or her own learning style.  Students must also make an appointment to meet with one of the Innovation Lab team members.  If more than ninety students apply, the seats will be selected by lottery. You can find full instructions for the application process at ghsinnovationlab.com/apply.

10.     How much individual attention and support will my child receive?

As this program revolves around the “school within a school” model with a traditional student-to-teacher ratio of 13:1, personalized support is more than possible – it’s become a regular piece of the program. 1 on 1 conferences take place very frequently in order to assess a student’s personal progress with assignments, skills in communication and collaboration with others, and anything else they may need. As well as this, the community of InLab heightens the amount of support able to be received, as we foster a caring and empowering environment in the classroom.

11.     What do I do if I want more information?
You can contact any of the nine Innovation Lab teachers via email or schedule an appointment at ghsinnovationlab@greenwich.k12.ct.us.

A sample of comments provided by the parents indicates a high degree of student engagement, satisfaction, and achievement:

  • “My daughter developed her academic competence through the Innovation Lab curriculum. She is alive at school and proactively participating in all the school programs. I think Innovation Lab fits my daughter’s strength and her unique background, it is a life-changer for her. Also, teachers are excellent, their attention, dedication, and its commitment to the program are [at an] outstanding level, really appreciated!”
  • “I’m so glad to have Innovation Lab as an option at GHS. My child definitely learns best in an experiential setting. The dedication of the teachers always blows me away, as does the creativity the students demonstrate in their projects.  I truly enjoy seeing all the projects and how the students have evolved this school year. Big credit to the wonderful teachers for their guidance, support, and 100% devotion to the students.”
  • “Innovation Lab is preparing my child for real life: be accountable, responsible; a team player and an innovator.”

List of colleges that Innovation Lab students have been accepted to:

  • UCLA
  • Wellesley College
  • University of Michigan
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Wesleyan University 
  • NYU 
  • Northeastern University 
  • Tulane University 
  • Colgate University 
  • UCONN Honors
  • Villanova University 
  • Oberlin College
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Rochester Institute of Technology 
  • California Institute of the Arts 
  • School of Visual Arts 

Add your own question in the comments below! We would love to add more responses to our FAQs.

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