Friday, October 24th, 2014

Curriculum & Assessment Tools

The curriculum at IMLCS is designed to serve students of all ability levels and to prepare them for an advanced middle school program. The school’s course of study will be based on the Common Core Learning Standards. This curriculum includes language arts, social studies, mathematics, science, technology, career awareness development and occupational studies, family and consumer sciences, physical education, health education, visual arts, and music. The curriculum is aligned so as to ensure that students successfully meet/exceed goals and benchmarks of the Common Core Learning Standards, as well as perform well on the NYSED assessments.

 

The school will meet high standards of student achievement:

  • Through the delivery of a rigorous academic curriculum
  • By tailoring curriculum to address learning styles of young male leaders.
  • By focusing on students’ strengths and viewing differences as opportunities for growth rather than liabilities
  • By incorporating the best educational practices into the class and the curriculum
  • Through parental involvement opportunities
  • By focusing on the total growth of the developing child

 

The curriculum is performance-based and results, rather than processes, are emphasized. The school acts on its belief that all children can learn by providing alternative strategies and programs that serve those who may not be adequately mastering the Common Core Learning Standards or those students with special needs. Accordingly, such students will be provided with additional supervised instruction time and tutoring during non-regular school hours in order to remedy deficient skills and improve performance.

 

Reading

Reading is the most important skill for students to master.  According to Rafe Esquith, Reading is the most important subject in school.  It’s more important than all the other subjects combined.  If a child can’t learn to read well and love to read, the chances of that kid finding success and happiness on any level are low.”[1]  To that light, we recognize that we must give our young leaders a jump start in this area.  Where one learns to read and comprehend well, then mastery in all other subject areas becomes easier. It is the goal of the language arts program to provide the impetus for students to achieve excellence in reading, writing, speaking and literary skills. The libraries contain a host of “boy friendly” books such as comic books serial books, nonfiction, action, mystery, and science books. The balanced literacy approach based on the five components of excellent reading as outlined by the federal government: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension, is employed at IMLCS.

 

Therefore, the school will adopt the Scott Foresman Comprehensive Research-Based Reading Series. The comprehensive language arts content will include applications and techniques for literacy, thereby exposing them to various literacy programs. These programs will introduce the excitement of reading to the overall student population. They introduce contemporary and traditional children’s authors through storytelling, readings, bookmaking, story and poetry creative writing sessions and book fairs. Some of the programs that augment the curriculum include Accelerated Reader, America Reads, Voyager Passport, Intensive Care Tutorial, Wee Deliver, and After-school Tutorial. Within these programs we will identify the literacy themes that appeal to young male leaders. Differentiation will be determined by teacher observation and assessment of students’ needs. This will be through one-on-one conferencing and small group work.

 

Writing: Teachers choose themes that appeal to boys and will keep them engaged. Classes begin with a 10 minute mini-lesson, which focuses on a different strategy every day.  Each mini-lesson begins with a connection to previous work, followed by the teaching point.  After the teacher has introduced the new concept or strategy, he or she creates a model for what is expected of students during the independent work period.  For the next 20 minutes, students work independently to incorporate the strategy or concept that was just introduced into their writing pieces.  While students are working independently, the teacher will circulate and conference with students about their writing.  The lesson concludes with students sharing their writing in a variety of ways.

 

Because writing is a primary school focus, teachers are expected to include writing in every subject area, including social studies, math, science, ethics, and art.  They will incorporate writing into their coursework and will be required to evaluate all writing against a common writing rubric that will be grade-level specific and evidence the growing expectations of students’ writing.  Each rubric will use the seven traits identified by the “6+1 Writing Traits of Ideas”: Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, Conventions, and Presentation.  The DCI will develop these rubrics during the planning year, and will also design professional development sessions to be delivered during staff orientation that will launch the implementation of rubrics.  These professional development sessions will focus on helping teachers other than reading and writing teachers to become proficient with the rubrics and the writing process.  Professional development will include rubric norming, where we examine examples of students writing, score it on the rubric, and discuss the scoring results.  In addition, there will be separate, content-specific writing rubrics for each content area.

 

Mathematics

The school will use the Go Math series for kindergarten and 1st grade.  Envision Math will be used in grades 2 through 5.  Envision Math will meet the needs of IMLCS for the more rigorous Common Core learning standards.  Specific units across grade levels have been identified which will have the highest impact on student achievement in the new testing environment.  For example, fractions and the understanding of part-whole relationships in the 1st and 2nd grades greatly impact a student’s performance on the appropriate standard in the 3rd and 4th grades.  To this end, specific units of study will be created as a group to identify and remediate their weaknesses.  The school has invested in Math Buddies, a Singapore Math-based computer program to strengthen our student fluency and problem solving skills in all grades.  The school has also implemented a remedial math program to support struggling students.  Identified students receive additional math instruction by Special Education and classroom teachers.

 

Science

The Science curriculum prepares students to achieve the Common Core Learning Standards by incorporating a hands-on approach to learning of the central science themes: Matter and Energy, Force and Motion, Earth and Space, Processes of Life, and The Scientific Method. The school utilizes the McMillan-McGraw Hill Science Series for all grades. In addition, Science Weekly will be used as a supplement in grades one through five. The teachers incorporate strategies to teach grade level expectations to attain the Common Core Learning Standards for each grade level. Fourth and fifth grade students will participate in the science club where they will be able to explore and investigate the steps to the scientific method.

 

The Science Lab is equipped with types of apparatus which promotes the scientific method and experimentation in the following disciplines:  life science; earth science; chemistry; and physical science.  This mode of instruction will focus heavily on lab skills which prepare students for Regents level curricula.  It is expected that “leaders” in all grades will be developing Science Fair projects annually.  In grades 3 through 5, the types of equipment that will be used in the lab and during classroom instruction are typically used on the high school level.  The advanced apparatus that will be used primarily in the 3rd and 4th grade are as follows:  A class set of compound microscopes, with 4x, 10x and 40x objectives for magnification of 40x, 100x and 400x respectively; triple beam balance scales; graduated cylinders (100ml) Erlenmeyer flasks (500ml); beakers (500ml), thermometers, scales, meter sticks, specimens, microscope slides and coverslips, prepared slides, stains, and indicators.

 

The Science Club at IMLCS has been re-activated and includes 1st through 5th grade students.  Participation in the club is based on the following “leader” attributes:  (1) Exhibition of interest in science and math; (2) Strict adherence to procedures while performing experiments; (3) Exhibition of team player behaviors in group activities, and in competitions; (4) Completion of assignments on time; and (5) Genuine interest in researching concepts.  The Science Club was designed to expose of students to scientific principles typically taught on the secondary school level.  When they engage in science, students are stimulated to critically evaluate concepts and theories using scientific tools and research.  IMLCS students in the club will develop science projects designed for science fair competitions in the school and beyond.  Students in the Science Club will also serve as a support group for students in the lower grades.  The ultimate goal of the Science Club is to bridge the science/math gap between grades K-5 and 6-12 so IMLCS students have success on future Regents and Advanced Placement experiences and examinations.

 

Social Studies

Students learn to comprehend the characteristics and expansion of world cultures. Topics that the students explore include the Middle Passage, Langston Hughes, and the five great medieval kingdoms of Africa. In addition, 4th graders also complete a course on New York and American history. All lessons are designed to meet the Common Core Learning Standards.

 

Health and Physical Education:

Health and physical education will be based on the Common Core Learning Standards..  Students will understand, explain, and apply concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to achieve and maintain healthy lifestyles.  Students will access, interpret, evaluate and communicate age-appropriate health information.  Students will be provided regular opportunities for exercise and healthy recreation. 

 

Technology:

Boys and technology go hand in hand. It is appropriate to tap into their natural interest. Technology is implemented in every discipline.  Teachers use technology to help students learn the core content areas more deeply. Students learn how to use the various software programs available for word processing and multimedia presentations. In primary grades students begin to learn basic keyboarding skills, while students in the intermediate grades focus on more advanced computer skills. Teachers incorporate various forms of technology into the thematic units. Students use information technology to help gather, analyze, organize and present information. The school’s technology program is comprehensively incorporated into the school’s infrastructure to enhance academic and arts programs as well as to increase resources for teachers, students and staff to conduct research, create lessons and to complete and publish work or assignments. The school is advancing the use of technology by creating a media center equipped with computers, high-speed internet access, printing and publishing hardware and various types of software designed to enhance the academic and reading programs. The school also creates and maintains an efficient school-wide network of computers and laptops when appropriate in order to maximize functionality of the resources available to each member of the school community. As the future leaders, it is imperative that our students’ technology skills are combined with values, critical thinking and integrity. To that end great detail will be given to internet safety, ethics and integrity. 

 

The Arts

In addition to the school’s art curriculum to determine the art history sequence, the Art teacher implements a hands-on art program to engage the boys in various aspects of art.

 

 

The careful, constant and measured review of assessment data by teachers, school leaders and the Board of Trustees is integral to driving student academic achievement and teacher effectiveness. Moving students to mastery requires knowing, at every point, what students already know and what students still need to learn. Knowing how IMLCS students are performing relative to mastery also is essential for assessing the efficacy of the school’s curriculum, instruction, professional development and overall academic program.

 

An effective assessment plan includes both formative assessments – assessments that allow teachers to give feedback as the project progresses – and summative assessments –assessments that provide students with a culminating evaluation of their understanding. Teachers begin by acquiring base line data on every incoming student. The staff conducts a variety of individual assessments throughout the year to ensure that students are on track toward achieving their learning outcomes. To determine students’ progress in literacy, the first assessments teachers utilize the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment. Teachers conduct one-on-one reading conferences and document student progress on the accuracy of oral reading and comprehension of meaning. Developmental spelling assessments may be used in conjunction with the reading assessments and individual assessments may be used in science and social studies, as needed. To gain insight into students’ math skills, problem-solving assessments are utilized so that teachers can ascertain how students derive both correct and incorrect answers.

 

These specific assessments have been chosen because since our entry point for students will be kindergarten, Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessments examines the 5 components of excellent reading as outlined in the IMLCS educational program. It measures a student’s ability to respond in writing to both a passage that is listened to and a passage which the student reads independently. For the upper grade students, the DRA is used because it measures research based reading skills. We will also be able to determine where our students stand compared to peers nation- wide.

 

ILMLCS will also implement performance based assessments that will enable students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do in meeting the statewide standards. Performance based assessments will include, but are not limited to:

  • Exhibits, demonstrations, and presentations.
  • Portfolios
  • Student Journals
  • Standardized Tests.
  • Teacher-designed Assessment Instruments
  • Teacher Observation and Documentation
  • Conferences
    • Child/teacher
    • Parent/teacher
    • Student/parent/teacher