Innovative Classroom Structures
The core anchors of our school design are relevance in the curriculum, interconnectedness in learning, and genuine collaboration among teachers. These innovations help bring those anchors to life every day for our students.
Cross-Curricular Thematic Units
Throughout the school year, each grade level explores five cross-curricular thematic units that touch on a range of disciplines, current issues and areas of interest. Students engage in conventional classroom lessons, field lessons, visiting speaker lectures, and rigorous classroom assignments that culminate in a final capstone project in each unit. Teachers track student achievement and growth by grading discreet cognitive skills throughout the year. Teachers work together to help students internalize enduring understandings and grapple with essential questions, and together teachers and students help generate lifelong learning experiences that develop scholars who are kind, intellectually curious, committed to social justice, and all-round great human beings.
Lit Circles (within Units)
Literacy Circles are a dedicated time each day when students at the same literacy level are placed into small groups to work on their literacy skills. Over two dozen adults in the building help facilitate circles in which students read and annotate, mine for evidence that answers high level essential questions, and engage with each other in socratic seminars. Each thematic unit includes 3 to 4 weeks of nonfiction articles that help build content knowledge and 3 to 4 weeks of study of a thematically related novel. The daily exposure to textual analysis and academic discourse will build skillsets that we know will be invaluable in high school and college.
Our math model relies on teacher collaboration to provide students with a personalized experience in math that doesn't sacrifice personal interactions. Twice a unit, we use formative assessment data to group students. Each students participates in two different rounds of math - one round grounded in conceptual development of the math standards, and one round that is differentiated based on their understanding of the material. Some students get extra help before the lesson, some have extended time to practice and get feedback, and others have extra time for advanced learning and projects.