Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The ES4SD Curriculums

The Elementary School for Sustainable Design is founded on the understanding that children have ownership and responsibility for their own educational processes and their future. Accordingly, our curriculum will be established using effective, research-based educational practices, hands-on, project based Service Learning adventures, and grade appropriate core academic materials. Our educational program will be designed to meet the diverse needs of individual students, including students with special needs. With our focus on sustainability, an “off the shelf” curriculum does not currently exist that teaches to this discipline via project-based experiences. Much research has been done, however, to initiate the design of our fully-integrated curriculum via such resources as: • PA State Standards and Assessment Anchors • NCTM Standards • AAAS’s Science Project 2061 • University of Oregon • Johns Hopkins University Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education: Best Evidence Encyclopedia • Micro-society • Thomas B. Fordham Foundation – At the Elementary School for Sustainable Design, our goal is to enable all students to be lifelong learners, exemplary, responsible citizens, caretakers of the environment, and leaders in the global community. Our expectation is that all our students can and will achieve at rigorous educational standards. When students understand that what takes place in their school is important, when they are expected to do well both academically and as citizens, when they are engaged in challenging and meaningful work, and when they are supported by a unified community of teachers, parents, and other concerned and involved adults, these expectations will be realized. We are committed to a rigorous educational program that promotes continuous improvement and individual development and provides an organizational structure that responds to the intellectual, social, environmental, and emotional needs of children at different stages of their development. The Elementary School for Sustainable Design is focused on a project-based learning and constructivist curriculum that emphasizes matters of global concern. Environment-based essential questions and overarching goals drive the curriculum. As the Elementary School for Sustainable Design achieves its goals and benchmarks, it will increasingly become a personalized learning environment where the student takes responsibility of his/her learning. Prior to the school’s opening, teacher study groups will work to produce models of authentic teaching practices and to develop curriculum that is standards-based and data-driven. Teaching will take place in a learning environment that is personalized for all students. The instructors will strive to acknowledge and accommodate different learning styles via differentiated instruction and to draw curriculum materials from appropriate sources of knowledge. The school’s environment will be characterized by developing habits of reflection and communication shared among students, teachers, administrators, and parents. Professional Learning Communities will endeavor to focus their action plans on student needs, identified by looking at data, and to use authentic assessment instruments to gather evidence of change in student performance. By creating these Professional Learning Communities, we create a system of professional accountability that is teacher-driven and nurtures the use of a common language. That shared communication extends to parents with whom the Elementary School for Sustainable Design actively engages in the work of improving student performance. Furthermore, partnerships will be created with community members and area institutions of higher learning that will work collaboratively to support the success of all students and reinforce a deeper understanding of what is learned. At Elementary School for Sustainable Design leadership opportunities are open to students, parents and community members to create a culture of sustainability. Our school actively promotes service in the community primarily as an avenue for student learning. Citizenship skills are also developed as a result of these community connections. Such a culture creates a school management structure that emphasizes shared decision making and lines of authority that integrate a collaborative team of teachers, administrators, parents, community members, and representatives of community-based human service and sustainability organizations.

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