Educational Program - Curriculum & Instruction
Darnall Charter School has developed and will continue to refine an instructional program that provides optimal support for our students based on the expectation that students will develop skills and abilities that will prepare them for college and the workforce. Our instructional program is based on the CCSS and is evolving to more fully address 21st Century proficiencies and integrate blended learning. Our program is built on the premise that learning occurs best in supportive learning environments that foster active engagement.
- Instructional models include a variety of practices including:
- Project-based learning
- Small group direct instruction or guided practice
- Systematic use of adaptive software
- Peer assisted learning
- Cross-age support
- Independent practice
- Whole group presentation
Although classes at Darnall Charter School are self-contained, it is our practice to provide flexible grouping within grade level teams in order to best meet the needs of our students. Just as we expect teachers to provide focused small group instruction within their classrooms, we support collaboration among grade level teams to provide focused instruction to homogeneous groups. The flexibility to reconfigure for specific purposes such as intervention or ELD ensures that teachers are able to collaborate on behalf of their students.
Communication is key to the next generation of learners and Darnall Charter School is committed to fostering speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in all learners and across all curricula. Our K-5 program emphasizes Foundational Skills as described in the CCSS. In all grades we will strike a balance between fiction and informational text for reading and writing knowing that student literacy needs to be well-rounded. Text and media provide the common experience from which teachers will draw to create learning opportunities that authentically engage students in collaboration and communication. We understand the value of student discourse in face-to-face settings and through the tools of social media. We believe that through discourse students will develop a deeper understanding of concepts as well as the ability to think creatively and critically, construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others, and develop social and cross-cultural skills. Likewise, a focus on student discourse authentically supports the academic language development of our ELs.
Implementation of the Eight Mathematical Practices provides the foundation of our mathematics instruction while fostering the 21st Century learning proficiencies of communication, and critical and creative thinking. In 2013-14, we are piloting an online algebra course and anticipate offering courses to meet the A-G requirements set forth by the California State University System. We are also revising our mathematics curriculum scope and sequence based on the newly released California CCSS Mathematics Framework. In 2014-15, we will adopt mathematics curriculum based on the CCSS.
History/Social Science, Science, and Technical Subjects
In Kindergarten through Grade 5 History/Social Science and Science are integrated in the Reading/Language Arts curriculum. Students engage in literacy instruction and experiences that develop their skills and abilities to comprehend content material while learning about important events and people in history and foundational concepts in science. In grades 6 – 8 students engage in deep exploration of the CCSS in History/Social Science, Science, and Technical Subjects.
Darnall Charter School knows that the State Board of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve on September 4, 2013 as required by Education Code 60605.85. We will begin reconfiguring
our Science curriculum based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the proposed learning progressions created on July 29, 2013. The new science framework will be released in 2016 and we will monitor recommendations by the state in the meantime.
Biliteracy Education - Spanish and English
Darnall Charter School has an early exit Biliteracy Program, more fully elaborated later in this petition. The Darnall Biliteracy Program includes ELD instruction, sheltered subject matter teaching, as well as instruction in the first language, using highly contextualized language and sheltered subject matter teaching. In this way, the sheltered instruction functions as a bridge between instruction in the first language and that in English. As children grow more proficient in English, less material is taught in the primary language, leading to readiness for third grade. ELD is continuously taught throughout the Biliteracy program. In English classes, students are provided support until they are fully English proficient.
A quality physical education has become increasingly more important in schools as students are engaging in more sedentary activities outside of school hours. This inactive lifestyle is a contributing factor to the overall obesity problem in our nation. Therefore, introducing fitness at a young age raises youth’s awareness of the important role fitness plays in living a healthy lifestyle. At Darnall Charter School all students participate weekly in standards-based physical education classes guided by the California Physical Education Framework and California Physical Education Standards. Our physical education program strives to provide instruction that increases fitness, develops physical skills, cognition, sport, and affective domains of attitude, interest, and cultural acceptance. Darnall Charter School’s master schedule ensures that students receive the minimum number of physical education minutes recommended by the state.
Visual and Performing Arts
Darnall Charter School students are given opportunities to think critically and creatively beyond academic areas. We offer students exposure to the visual and performing arts through weekly Art and Music classes. Students work independently and collaboratively on a variety of artistic endeavors and performances.
Many kindergartners arrive at school knowing how to operate tablets and smart phones before they can read. This phenomenon emphasizes the importance of learning through visual representation and our comprehensive art program provides this opportunity. Through lessons based on the California Visual and Performing Arts Standards, students learn such concepts as line, color, and composition and work with a variety of media while fine tuning their motor skills. Our art program enhances students’ development of 21st Century learning by engaging students in creative expression, communication using artistic language, and decision making. Students study and are inspired by the work of classical and contemporary artists and have many opportunities to express themselves. Our students will develop an understanding and appreciation of art as a form of communication and its relationship to the outside world. We believe that it is important to foster a child's artistic creativity because creative thinking, problem solving, and questioning foster the development of a creative individual and prepares them for success in tomorrow's world.
Our general music program is designed to expose students to the power and passion that listening to and creating music can ignite. Music lessons are based on standards for the Visual and Performing Arts and executed with an understanding and consideration of developmentally appropriated instruction. Students will develop rhythm and an understanding of melody and harmony through singing and instrumental lessons. They will learn basic skills for percussion, keyboards, and string instruments, while developing the 21st Century skills of collaboration, communication, and creativity. Students will deepen their understanding of music as a cultural phenomenon through listening to music from around the world and engaging in the study of music history. Further, students will have the opportunity to develop confidence and presence when performing for family and friends at school events.
In June 2013, the California Department of Education approved Darnall Charter School’s comprehensive three-year Technology Plan. Our Technology Plan is intended to serve as both a guide for technology related decision making and an instrument to monitor and evaluate progress toward identified goals and objectives. An updated assessment of school technology status, needs, and resources was completed for each section of our plan and has guided the development of our technology goals, objectives and implementation activities. Our goals and objectives were established to meet the identified needs of integrating technology to improve student learning, providing equitable technology access and support, providing timely two-way information between home and school, and providing ongoing high quality educational technology professional development.
We are committed to appropriately integrating technology into all areas of the curriculum and dedicated to the acquisition and support of effective educational technology that provides teachers and students with real-world contexts for learning, connections to larger learning communities, and opportunities to individualize and apply learning.