CURRICULUM & INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN AND APPROACHES
Students in a constructivist model are given the means to explore, solve problems, reflect on situations and demonstrate their knowledge individually and in groups, allowing learners to “construct” their own meaning. Through group learning, students have the opportunity to interact with and learn from other students on more complex tasks than they could engage in alone, providing immediate feedback, encouraging them to explore their own and other students’ ideas, and helping develop communication and interpersonal skills. This approach enables students to become Self-Directed Learners, with teachers as mentors and models.
2. Problem-Based Learning
Through project-based learning, our students will engage in complex and challenging tasks and problem-solving, both independently and in small groups, engaging in a depth of learning that creates true understanding beyond rote memorization of facts. ISSAC’s project based learning approach evolved from John Dewey and Tsunesaburo Makiguchi’s value creation paradigm, which presumes that, given a problem to be solved or a project goal, the students will complete the learning required to solve that problem or to accomplish that (achievable) goal.
At ISSAC, our projects will emphasize mastery of STREAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) content and skills critical in our 21st century global economy. STREAM curriculum design at ISSAC will enable the student to discover aspects of the problem or puzzle and reproduce the scientific process to rediscover or reinvent the scientific knowledge.
3. Blended/Targeted Learning
Students at ISSAC will be able to use the ever-growing body of rich online, CCSS- aligned curriculum to practice skills and engage in fun, game-like learning that adapts continuously to their individual needs. ISSAC hopes, pending funding, to ultimately have a 1:1 computer ratio for our older students (grades 3 and up) in the school by the end of this charter term. Initially, we will utilize shared computers across classrooms to ensure each student has frequent exposure to online learning. We will provide students with safe and secure internet access for learning. Our faculty will have extensive training in implementing and using on-line curriculum and assessment tools and structuring lessons through a rotation model.
4. Trilingual Learning
ISSAC plans to offer instruction in English, Spanish and Chinese, in a rigorous “FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary Schools)” TK-8 program. ISSAC students will be able to achieve Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS), which are language skills needed in social situations (Haynes. 2007). We believe this program will prepare students to excel in rigorous secondary school programs. Instruction of all core subjects (ELA, Math, Science and Social Science/History) will take place in English throughout TK-8.
5. Social Emotional Learning
At ISSAC we do not believe it is enough to ensure students learn core academic content. Rather, today’s rapid technological advances and the pace of modern life demand that critical thinking skills, collaboration, communication, conflict resolution and self-awareness are all necessary to succeed. Thus, Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is central component at ISSAC and will be integrated into the daily academic curriculum, involving all students, families, teachers, and community members.
6. Curriculum is CCSS-aligned and introduces Eureka Math, Wit and Wisdom English Language Arts along with Readers' and Writers' Workshop for lower grades. STEMscopes, Second Step (Social Emotional Learning), Better Chinese, Estrellita, and others.