Time, Insights & Intensives


Did you know that most schools’ schedules in the 21st century closely mirror those from schools in the early 19th century? In spite of the significant changes in the world and the vast amount of research conducted on educational best practices in the last 200 years, modern schools still rely on an outdated and, in many cases, ineffective schedule model to educate our students.
That’s why at Hawken, we have designed age-appropriate, innovative schedules for each division. This intentional approach ensures that both student development and the precious commodity of time are optimized.

“We must use time as a tool,
not a crutch.”

-John F. Kennedy

Early Childhood

Early Childhood (Toddler, Preschool, Prekindergarten & Kindergarten)
The preschool day includes time for practicing early literacy skills and mathematical concepts within a structure that includes teacher-directed activities as well as independent student choice. Each morning begins with a period of exploration, when children are introduced to their day by engaging in an activity of their choice. Morning Meeting, an integral part of every school day, follows, inviting students to gain a sense of belonging through a myriad of activities that promote risk-taking in a safe environment.
Each day also features “Investigations”; a time for children to actively dive into an individual or group project.  During this time, students are invited to ask questions, solve problems, and work together to explore new topics of interest. Areas of the classroom are carefully designed to promote creativity and originality of thought and include art, building and construction, cooking, science inquiry, math manipulatives, language arts, and dramatic play. Snack time, clean-up, and Closing Meeting are also important elements of each day to promote as sense of personal responsibility and community building. Additional time is allotted in the preschooler’s schedule for special area classes including literacy, music, library, physical education and, starting in prekindergarten, world languages and science. 

Lower School

Grades 1–5
In the Lower School, the school day is built around an intentionally designed schedule to meet student learning needs, providing both routine for comfort and change for stimulations as well as opportunities to engage in active inquiry and quiet reflection. Designated blocks of time are set aside for focus on foundational skills, while special enrichment time provides exposure to other academic areas. In addition, problem-based learning time is set aside for application and deeper reinforcement of skills learned.
Also built into the Lower School schedule is time for meaningful, real-world engagement. Morning assemblies are elevated beyond the ordinary as students engage in public speaking and performance opportunities that build both leadership skills and confidence. Time is also set aside for travel to destinations throughout Cleveland, including the Sally and Bob Gries Center for Experiential and Service Learning, Hawken’s urban extension campus in University Circle, to engage in hands-on learning. These introductions to the local community support the deepening relationships students will develop with Cleveland’s community and cultural organizations in future years.

Middle School

Grades 6–8
The Middle School schedule is designed to address the whole child and thus includes time for delving into social as well as academic curricula.
Your child will become a member of a small student group that will be paired with a faculty advisor who provides academic, extracurricular and personal support to each student. Each advisor adheres to a social/emotional growth curriculum that is developmentally scaffolded for grades 6,7, and 8. The curriculum focuses on important skills relating to personal identity, teamwork and collaboration, and problem solving and decision making. Your child will also participate in Service Learning as part of the advisory curriculum.
Also built into the Middle School schedule is time for assemblies, which in this division are entirely student-led. As a seventh grader, your child will have an opportunity to open the meeting; as a sixth grader, he or she may share something that happened on this day in history; and as an eighth grader your child may formally introduce the Chapel Talk speaker or call on those who have news or information to share with the community.
Time for clubs is also embedded into the school day. Each Hawken Middle School student is required to join a club; examples include Lego Robotics, Jazz Band, Chess, and more. These opportunities enable your child to identify and explore interests and passions outside of the academic curriculum alongside students from other grades who have similar interests.

The Middle School schedule allows time for a vast array of electives in performing arts/music, visual arts, computational thinking and design, and modern languages. Students also choose additional electives to enable them to explore new interests or deepen existing knowledge and skills. Examples include Printmaking, Playwriting, Historical Investigation, Music Production and Technology, Human Biology, Ceramics, and Ancient Number Systems.

High School

Grades 9–12
Hawken’s unique rotating block schedule at both the Upper School and the Mastery School allows students to make the most of their time and caters to every learning style. Our 80-minute blocks help students become truly immersed in a certain subject and gives them ample opportunities to ask questions and clarify confusions. Teachers also use the time in creative ways, incorporating student-led presentations, hands-on activities, and group projects.
Because classes are on a rotating schedule, students attend classes in a varying order each day, thus allowing students to experience classes at different times of the day and providing time in-between classes to complete homework and meet with teachers. Free blocks are given to students to relax, work in collaborative environments with other students and seek help from teachers or student interns.
The changes in the schedule are based on extensive research and consultation with Independent School Management, a nationally renowned organization known for its expertise in schedule research and design, Hawken’s innovative schedule ensures that each student meets every class during his or her "peak" time of day at some point during the rotation; it also features a revised school calendar that includes two three-week "Intensives" for in-depth study of a single subject. The unique Intensive construct enables students to choose one course that meets each day for three weeks, allowing for engagement in in-depth, hands-on learning. Students and teachers enjoy uninterrupted time to fully immerse themselves in a single subject for weeks on end and have opportunities to travel outside the classroom to interact with experts and professionals.

Schedules for students enrolled in Macro classes like Engineering or Entrepreneurship as well as students at the Mastery School may vary from the typical schedule at the Upper School; however, all high school students will participate in Hawken’s Intensive program two times each year.


Another unique aspect of the Middle School schedule is the annual “Insights Week.” Insights Week is a unique opportunity for our middle school students to explore a niche area and study it in depth. Taking place the week prior to spring break, Insights is a five-day interdisciplinary course that uses experiential learning and takes a team teaching approach to expose students to real-world situations. Students are given the opportunity to choose their own adventure.
The purpose of Insights is to build community and skills as it is a mixed-grade opportunity where students are exposed to peers both above and below their age, sharing experiences across grades. Their academic and critical thinking skills are meshed with their character skills through service to the community around them, and they develop problem solving skills.

Sample Insights Courses

Arts Courses
Anatomy Of A Hit Song
Divine Design
Filmmaker's Workshop
Winter's Song

Global Connections Courses
A River Runs Through It
Athletic Facility Design
Beyond The Buggy: Off The Grid With The Amish
Ohio Journey: Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Blimps!
Olympic Gold: The Road to PyeongChang
Science & Technology Courses
Mighty Mammals
Story of Stuff

Engage Cleveland Courses
A Slice of the CLE: Pizza Entrepreneurship and Creativity Throughout The Land
A Taste of Cleveland's Cultures
Food Truck Revolution



Immersive experiences that support meaningful, authentic learning opportunities are not possible during the traditional 45-minute period that characterizes most school schedules. Focusing on a single topic for five days a week, seven hours a day enables students to develop the much-needed skills of knowledge creation, collaboration, and problem-solving. At the same time, they strengthen character traits of empathy, resilience, and confidence that are so necessary to thriving in today’s world.


Intensive classes are held during the final three weeks of each semester: the weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break and the final three weeks of the school year. This gives teachers and students three weeks of uninterrupted time to delve into their subject matter without the distractions and interruptions that occur in a typical school schedule.

The Intensive format allows in-depth, immersive learning to take place in a variety of locations: from Hawken’s main campuses to locations throughout the city of Cleveland to places around the globe

All students in grades 9 through 12 enroll in an Intensive at the end of every semester. By the time they graduate, each student will have had eight Intensive experiences.

In the ninth grade, Intensives are part of the core curriculum. As students progress through High School, they have a greater degree of choice with regard to their Intensive, ranking them in order of preference. Some intensive classes are required, some are restricted to certain grades, and some involve a special application and selection process. 

What are Intensives?

Sample Intensive Courses

Humanities 9
Many Stories: Race, Gender, and Class in America
Spiritual Journeys
Talkin’ Trash
Science Fiction
We, the People… 
9th Grade Physics
Modern Physics
Humanities 10
Haunted Cleveland
Young Rebels
Encountering “The Other” - Understanding Cultural Difference
Latino Immigration
Money Makes the World Go Round
From Wonderland to Hogwarts
to Hawken
Journalism (Regional Travel)
America: A Global Perspective
Design the Ideal High School (National Travel) 
Gerrymandering Democracy (Regional Travel) 
The Identity Project: Exploring Diversity and Social Justice in the 21st Century (Regional Travel) 
Angel Town to LaLa Land (National Travel)
Interdisciplinary Courses
Hawken Project
Contemporary Vietnam in History and Literature (International Travel)
Mind Games: Experimental Psychology and Statistics
Whodunit? Crime Literature & Crime Scene Investigation 101
Math and Computer Science
Curves, Surfaces, and Space
Tech Incubator 1
Web App Development
Mobile App Development
Tech Incubator 2

Performing Arts
The Creative Process
(National Travel)
Music in the City
Comedy and Social Satire
Create Music
AP Biology
Honors Chemistry
Marine Science at the Island School in The Bahamas (International Travel)
Visual Arts
Introduction to Filmmaking
Wearable Art and Fashion
Before the Selfie, There Was Paint! 
Digital Photography
Graffiti + Murals
World Languages
Spanish 4 Honors Intensive:
Service and Salsa
Spanish Immersion (Spain) - International Travel 
An independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school, toddler through grade 12

Early Childhood, Lower, and Middle Schools, 5000 Clubside Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124
Birchwood School of Hawken, 4400 West 140th Street, Cleveland, OH 44135 

Upper School, PO Box 8002 (12465 County Line Rd), Gates Mills, OH 44040
Mastery School of Hawken, 11025 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106

Gries Center, 10823 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106

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