Foxfire's Core Practices

1 • From the beginning, learner choice, design, and revision infuses the work teachers and learners do together.

2 • The work teachers and learners do together clearly manifests the attributes of the academic disciplines involved, so those attributes become habits of mind.

3 • The work teachers and students do together enables learners to make connections between the classroom work, the surrounding communities, and the world beyond their communities.

4 • The teacher serves as facilitator and collaborator.

5 • Active learning characterizes classroom activities.

6 • The learning process entails imagination and creativity.

7 • Classroom work includes peer teaching, small group work, and teamwork.

8 • The work of the classroom serves audiences beyond the teacher, thereby evoking the best efforts by the learners and providing feedback for improving subsequent performances.

9 • The work teachers and learners do together includes rigorous, ongoing assessment and evaluation.

10 • Reflection, an essential activity, takes place at key points throughout the work.

The Foxfire Approach

As Foxfire grew and gained national recognition, beleaguered teachers all across the country looked at The Foxfire Magazine, and saw an opportunity to change things. They started producing their own magazines in an attempt to “do Foxfire.” Most of these teachers met with partial or little success because they had missed the very heart of why Foxfire succeeded—student choice.

The success of the Foxfire program was due in large part to the fact the the students chose to create a magazine. Since the magazine was their choice, the students were deeply invested in the work of creating it. The magazine product itself was not the solution to classroom woes that so many teachers thought it would be. Kaye Carver Collins, an early magazine student and later a Foxfire staff member for 13 years, explained the problem like this: “It seemed that people couldn’t understand the importance of the difference between the magazine, which was the choice we made, and the fact that we made a decision.

In-house research and later years of grant-funded exploration sought to clarify the reasons for Foxfire’s success and give teachers the help they were looking for. The original classroom model’s three driving factors—student decisions directing the process, using the local community as a resource for learning, and engaging an audience beyond the classroom for the students’ work—were explored and expanded over time by practicing educators and Foxfire staff, resulting in the Foxfire Core Practices for Education, the basis of the Foxfire Approach to Teaching and Learning. Successful Foxfire-trained teachers in 38 states have discovered the enriching classroom experiences that can be had when students are empowered and truly invested in their work.

(The contents, wording, and order of the Core Practices were updated in September 2009, and will differ from earlier materials that you may encounter.)

Foxfire Approach Courses

The Approach is neither a teaching “method” nor a recipe for success. Each educator must be willing to rethink his or her own teaching methods and adapt the Approach to their particular subject areas, students, and curriculum requirements. An introductory program, A Taste of Foxfire, is a short class offered to familiarize teachers and administrators with the Approach and determine its appropriateness for their classrooms or schools. The Foxfire Course for Teachers is an in-depth examination of each of the Core Practices and their applications. During the Course, teachers will identify their existing perceptions of the relationships between teachers, learners, and the curriculum. Those perceptions will be challenged, and the teachers will begin to redefine their own teaching philosophies to include the Core Practices and merge them back into their own teaching practices.

Materials for Teachers

For more detailed explanations and discussion of the Foxfire Approach to Teaching and Learning and the underlying Core Practices, visit the Shop and browse through Foxfire's Approach publications. From Thinking to Doing contains detailed exploration of all eleven Core Practices, complete with confirming stories from Foxfire-trained teachers from all over the United States. The three Considering readers go in depth with Core Practices 6 (creativity and imagination), 9 (assessment and evaluation), and 10 (reflection).

Current News


Foxfire courses are offered through a partnership with Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia. Separate, focused
courses are
offered for K-12
teachers and for college professors.

Course for
Teachers &

The Foxfire Course
for Teachers is
offered as a regular semester-length class at Piedmont College, and as a condensed, residential summer session, and can be taken for continuing education credit.

This academic year's Courses have concluded.

For more information on Summer 2015 and other future Courses, contact Hilton Smith, Secondary Education Chair at Piedmont,
by email at or by telephone at 706-778-8500,
ext. 1297.