Instructional Practices & Learning Supports
Assumption utilizes an array of researched best practices and instructional strategies to ensure the success of every child. Strategies vary from grade level to grade level in alignment with the developmental needs of students as they grow. All students deserve an “achievable stretch” meaning that every child should be challenged to extend his learning into areas that are sometimes uncomfortable and demanding, but achievable. This is true no matter where a child is assessed on the learning spectrum – whether above, at, or below grade level. Students need to experience a challenge and become accustomed the idea of perseverance and hard work. High expectations that all students can meet grade level standards and beyond permeates our approach.
Teachers “map” curriculum plans for the year and design daily lessons that include learning objectives, instructional methods, and assessments. More recently the Archdiocese of LA is utilizing the Core Instructional Model (CIM) structure of lesson design. Our staff is currently learning more about this specific model as recommended by the Archdiocese. In this model, it is important that learning objectives are visibly posted by teachers and that students can articulate what the learning goals of every lesson. Instructional methodology includes an “I, we, two, you” sequence of activity engagement with direct instruction from the teacher, group engagement, partner work, and independent work for every lesson. All lessons include some type of informal assessment.
In the past two years K-5th grades have been studying and implementing Writer’s Workshopthrough training with Growing Educators to increase volume meaning and motivation in writing.
As educators, we commit to doing our best and to continuously reflecting upon, and growing our practice as more research and data become available. Overall we consistently use the following:
Differentiation of instruction – We know that every student is unique and that our students vary widely in their learning styles, achievement levels, and interests.
Methods of differentiation include:
- Various groupings of students
- Full group instruction such as mini-lessons
- Small group instruction (guided reading, conferencing, peer collaboration)
- Partner work (Writers’ Workshop and other)
- Independent work
- The integrated use of technology
- iPad Centers in TK – 2
- IPad Cart and project use in grades 3 – 5
- 1:1 iPads for all day use in grades 6 – 8
- Computer Lab instruction in Word, Power Point, iMovie, Excel, Publisher, keyboarding and special projects integrating all of these PC applications
- Use of a broad range of applications
- Google classroom in grades 5 – 8
- Use of inquiry and increased cognitive demand for complex thinking in all content areas. The goal of learning is not just WHAT students learn but HOW they apply their learning to complex problems and thinking
- Socratic dialogue
- Bloom’s Taxonomy
- Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK)
- Use of Essential Questions
- Use of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory helps us approach learning through the learning modalities of visual, auditory, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal and other learning preferences and strengths. Students need to be good at learning in many different ways but we deploy instructions methods that allow them to utilize natural strengths as well.
- Encouraging meta-cognitive skills to help students better understand themselves as Learners. Thinking about our thinking helps us“unpack” how we learn so we can better access what we need to advance our own learning. Use of continuous specific feedback with both informal and formal assessments that allows students to also self-assess. Using assessments all of us see where we are and where we need to go to strengthen our learning.
- Use of diverse, leveled materials. Since students develop at different rates, we strive to accommodate and keep them challenged at their “just right” level by providing different types of learning materials such as leveled books, online fluency programs, Accelerated Reading recommendations, and other technology applications.
- Student choice is encouraged whenever possible. Structured choice allows students to be more invested in their work and motivates them to persevere.
- Use of more direct intervention/support is provided as appropriate through the reading specialist and STEP process, use of our reading specialist and other support staff. When possible, we also collaborate with outside providers/tutors to help students succeed. Parents have the right to access the services of the public school district in which they live if their child needs to have psychological/educational assessment.