Harkness Methodology in Summer Academy - Quarry Lane School

At the Quarry Lane School, the Harkness Methodology is a year-round endeavor. Within Summer Academy, students are engaged in this group-led learning system in their daily classes. 

Dr. Gretchen Kellough, Head of English and IB Coordinator has been implementing a new methodology in her International Baccalaureate (IB) English classroom. We had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Kellough to get the inside scoop on this approach to global learning.


Please describe the Harkness Methodology.

Harkness Methodology is a bottom-up, discussion-based form of teaching. We use it in our pre-IB and IB English classes. It puts the responsibility on the students to generate analysis and answer each other’s questions, rather than the teacher doing all the guiding. Instead of directing their questions to the teacher, students challenge, question, and support each other’s point of view. A teacher using the Harkness Methodology easily speaks for less than 5% of class time. The motivation for using Harkness in our English classrooms is it models for students how to learn. It teaches them to stay close to the text and find proof in the written word for their inferences and literary investigations. It also teaches more vocal students to encourage their quieter peers to speak out, and it requires active listening from all participants. Harkness teaches students to engage with their education. Students who learn via Harkness methodology are more likely to retain information after the tests have passed because they relate it to knowledge they are requiring in other classes or to ideas that already interest them.

Can you describe the look of your classroom while using this style of teaching?

Our Harkness tables allow all the students to face in to each other, which encourages discussion and student-driven participation.  The Harkness tables teach the students to collaborate with each, rather than compete with each other, and this interaction continues beyond the classroom and becomes a cornerstone of our IB program. The teacher is a participant in the Harkness discussion as well. My role is to demonstrate to students how to learn by teaching them how to ask questions and how to find answers. When it comes time to taking tests or quizzes, each Harkness table has pull-out test tables to give the students individual work areas.

Where did you first learn about this style of teaching?

I first learned about Harkness-based discussion when I was looking for ways to better structure discussions and involve the students in my IB English class. I found materials on Harkness Methodology through the Phillips Exeter Academy and learned how to use it in my classroom in a way that incorporated the desired outcomes of the IB curriculum. I created a handout and guide for other English teachers to use it in their classrooms. I find it interesting that about a year after we began using Harkness methodology in our IB English classes at QLS, the IB English program revised its worldwide curriculum to include a Harkness-type discussion as one of the assessment methods for IB English.

How do the students respond to this?

Students initially said, “Please, don’t ever make us do this again.” They realized how hard they had to work when they were in charge of leading the class discussion. However, I saw that they were better able to internalize information and apply it in testing and essay-writing. Harkness models the adage: “"Tell me, I'll forget. Show me, I'll remember. Involve me, I'll understand.” It makes sense that the students come to a better understanding when they are the ones generating the discussions and figuring out the answers on their own. It’s similar to what happens in the Applied Science classes.

How does the Harkness Methodology connect to the educational philosophy of Quarry Lane?

The philosophy at Quarry Lane School is “Education is a lifelong commitment” and our mission is to foster a lifelong love of learning. Harkness Methodology gives our students the short-term and long-term skills to be lifelong students. The most effective teaching methodologies are practiced by doing and teaching others. Harkness makes extensive use of these methodologies through its discussion-centered practices. It also fosters a sense of community and connectedness that connects our students long after graduation.

For more information on the Harkness Methodology or the Quarry Lane School, please contact us at (925) 394-4644 or visit our website


Spotlight on Quarry Lane School's College Counseling

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The educators at The Quarry Lane School believe that comprehensive college counseling is vital to each student’s continued success after high school. In keeping with that goal, our college preparatory school offers academic planning for all students beginning freshman year. Comprehensive counseling includes individual appointments with students and parents, visits by college admissions teams, and all-school college information nights. Students will have the opportunity to review college and university requirements and create their own customized plans for success during freshman year. Sophomores and juniors will continue to focus on their college plans while finalizing ACT and SAT preparation and participating in AP coursework to earn college credit.

At The Quarry Lane School, we take pride in preparing our students to attend the finest colleges and universities in the nation. To learn more about our Dublin, CA private high school, visit us on the Web or give us a call at (925) 394-4644 today.

Quarry Lane School Counselor in Training Program

One of our most exciting summer offerings is the Counselor in Training Program!

The objective of this course is to allow students to develop their ability to engage with young children in a recreational summer camp setting (Camp Quarry). Students have the opportunity to become certified in CPR and First Aid, take a certification and training class for babysitting, in addition to learning how to develop lesson plans for indoor and outdoor activities. All of which will take place in the morning hours. This is accomplished through lectures, class discussions and mentoring. In the afternoon hours, students work with our trained Camp Quarry counselors to engage with our young elementary school students!

The bonds created are priceless. If you would like to learn more about our Counselor in Training program, please give us a call at (925) 394-4644 or visit our Dublin, CA private school. 


Why Private Education Is Best for Students

All parents want their children to have access to the best educational opportunities so they can be adequately prepared for competitive university life. Watch this video to find out how a private college preparatory program can give your high schooler an academic edge in college and beyond.

Independent private schools offer students solid and well-rounded educations. When you choose a private high school, you have the security of knowing that your children are receiving a high-quality academic education that focuses on their holistic development and instills a solid moral foundation. Caring teachers provide individualized attention in a safe, supportive environment.

The Quarry Lane School is proud to be the premier private college preparatory school in the Bay Area, and our instructors offer an academically rigorous curriculum for students from preschool through high school. To learn more, call our Dublin, CA private school at (925) 394-4644 today.

How to Get Into a Top College

Campus building

If you have a student who is entering high school or is currently enrolled in a college preparatory school, you already know that the race to get into a top college begins as early as middle school. Fortunately, premier private schools offer extensive college counseling and unparalleled opportunities to personally meet with admissions teams from the very best universities in the country. As you begin your search for the perfect college, keep these tips in mind.

Start Early
Is your high school student convinced that she wants to attend Harvard? Whether your daughter is set on Stanford or your son is committed to studying at Princeton, the top 10 universities in the United States draw the most exceptional students from all over the world. To get a leg up on the competition, start as early as possible. It’s a good idea to take as many advanced courses as possible, and try to take four solid years of a foreign language. 

Challenge Yourself
Setting goals for yourself now is not only essential for getting into a top college; it also teaches bright students the discipline they need to excel once they arrive. Individual students learn differently and have disparate interests, and college admissions teams look to see that a high school student has developed her unique strengths. While taking as many AP courses as possible is always a good idea, well-rounded candidates also excel in activities such as sports, student government, or part-time jobs.

Explain Errors
As you prepare college applications, remember that few students have perfect academic records. If your grades dipped one semester or you struggled with your workload, use your personal essay to explain what went wrong and how you learned and grew from the experience.

At The Quarry Lane School, our specialized College Preparatory Track prepares high school students for the academic rigors of higher education. Our broad spectrum of AP courses encourages high achievers to gain university credits before they graduate from high school, and our small courses and personalized attention help to ensure that all students excel. To learn more, call our Dublin, CA private school campus at (925) 394-4644 today.

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