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Academics

iShine Student Center is a state of the art learning center, creating an environment where students feel safe, are motivated to learn, discover their uniqueness, feel appreciated, see their goodness and dedicate themselves to the unfolding of potential. The Center is dedicated to the expansion of knowledge and skills; the Common Core and 21st Century Skills are foundational.

At iShine, we do not use text books as primary sources of information. Instead we design the curriculum to meet the requirements of the State Common Core AND the individual needs of our students, using multiple sources of information and explanation. We believe there are countless strategies to reach goals and it is our work to continue to co-create methods that meet the needs of each student.

Reading and Literature

Instructional Goals

Students will demonstrate strong phonemic awareness, decoding skills, sight recognition, comprehension, vocabulary development, and fluency. They will apply a wide range of reading strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate and appreciate fiction and non-fiction, contemporary and classical works. Students will understand the use of conventions, structure, figurative language and genre and are able to use this knowledge to appreciate, critique and converse about what they read. Students will research using books, magazines, internet articles and archives, letters and more to discover and communicate their understandings as they author, and produce in print and digital media.

Instructional Strategies

iShine uses a blended literacy approach. We use phonics and sight based strategies, guided reading and multi-modal practice. We believe writing leads to great reading and vise a versa. We use music to solidify sounds and taste to teach foundational letters and sounds. We dance to and move to remember key concepts. We use literacy centers to encourage hands-on-practice and to allow teachers to work with individuals and small groups to target specific needs.

At iShine we use guided reading at each student’s level which means we assess often, not to evaluate and grade, but to discover developmental levels in order to specifically target instruction for each student. We emphasize decoding, comprehension, and fluency skills in all genres. In addition to learning to read, we read to learn, emphasizing the importance of literary devices, and thinking while reading skills. In grades 3-8 we use literacy circles where students learn to apply critical thinking skills with issues found in literature. Students work in learning centers k-8 applying the skills of great readers. Students read at their personal developmental level, so there are as many as six novels being read at one time in each grade level. Students learn to read by reading and in developing skills in inquiring, predicting, comparing, contrasting and critiquing.

Writing

Instructional Goals

Students write clearly and coherently in narrative, expository, persuasive and descriptive works. They demonstrate knowledge and skill with the expression of ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency and Standard English conventions. They demonstrate understanding of purpose and audience. They appreciate the qualities demonstrated by award winning authors. They use electronic media for a wide range of electronic media. They can write emails, texts, digital articles and presentations.

Instructional Strategies

At iShine we believe it is each student’s right to write. We tell students that no one can know their story, so they are invited to share what is their unique life adventure. Using the best practices of great authors, as well as key themes of the Writer’s Workshop and the theories and practices of our writing teacher, students study and practice listening to a writer within. Students are encouraged to first express and only then begin to edit their work. This creates a space of confidence in sharing ideas and encouragement to share ideas. In this culture of courage, students write children’s books, memoirs, expositions, poetry, short stories, comedies, plays, persuasive essays, advertisements, blogs, websites, while they learn to read great works, research, create and edit. They learn to write with a voice that is uniquely theirs.

Speaking and Listening

Instructional Goals

Students speak clearly and coherently. They participate in conversations and oral presentations that demonstrate clarity, organization, fluency, eye contact, voice projection, pace and modulation to communicate a message.

Students comprehend and critically interpret multiple forms of expression. They demonstrate the ability to recall, listen without interruption, suspend judgment, respond to oral directions, comprehend subtle meanings, paraphrase and check for understanding as they listen to lectures, discussions, debates, speeches and conversation from many sources.

Instructional Strategies

Students at iShine practice speaking often. In addition to speaking in small groups and in regular classroom exchanges, our project-based learning model ensures that all students present their projects to their peers many times a month. In addition, there are opportunities for formal speaking in student government, where officers do speeches in the community. We offer a speech class in our lab schedule and emphasize the importance of elements of clear speaking in each classroom at every grade level.

Students are exposed to the fundamentals of good listening and practice these skills K-8. In addition, we hold Class Meetings weekly where these skills are emphasized, particularly the skills of suspending judgment and allowing peers to speak without interruption or argument. We also introduce the disciplines of dialogue that encourage empathetic listening where each point of view is accepted in an effort to respect the speaker and to learn to listen with neutrality. Our students have the opportunity of developing these skills beyond what is expected of elementary age children.

Mathematics

Instructional Goals

Students understand and apply mathematical processes and concepts, including number sense, algebra and functions, measurement and geometry, estimation and calculation, statistics, data analysis, probability and mathematical reasoning to solve simple and complex processes. Students are capable and fluent in basic computational skills. They use mathematical signs, symbols, models, graphs, formula, and math vocabulary to describe problem solving processes. Students use critical thinking skills and perseverance in solving mathematical problems.

Instructional Strategies

At iShine, we assess mathematical skills often in an effort to keep students working at their developmental level. We offer both remediation and acceleration to match student need. At the eighth grade we have students who are working at high school algebra and also at high school geometry due to our accelerated model. In addition, we believe that everyone can be successful at mathematics, so we emphasize thinking, problem solving, vocabulary and assessments that are drafts that students can use to find what needs to be “relearned.”

Using no particular text book allows teacher to use many sources of explanation for students. We use manipulatives, peer instruction, internet mini-lessons, targeted developmental instruction with math software, math games and small group tutoring to personalize instruction. We work to eliminate the notion that math is to be feared or too difficult.

Science

Instructional Goals

Students will successfully utilize inquiry, research, hypothesis formulation, experimentation, critical thinking and problem solving to demonstrate an understanding of the scientific method as it applies to all fields of science. Students observe, measure, predict, invent and more as they use appropriate tools and technology to issues in science. Students identify new theories and applications in science, medicine and technology as they research using books, articles, the internet as they increase knowledge and skills in the fields of natural, chemical, biological sciences.

Instructional Strategies

Utilizing the State Science Common Core as fundamental and multiple sources for instructional information, we teach hands-on science. We teach the fundamentals of physical, life and earth sciences as well as the theories and practices of experimentation. Students utilize the tools of science (test tubes, binoculars, calculators, barometers, thermometers, spring scales, microscopes, telescopes, etc.) Students study the scientific method, making estimations and predictions, observations and collecting data, as they form and test hypotheses.

In a project-based learning environment, students learn science by testing hypotheses with experiments or by applying theories by creating models, brochures, PowerPoint presentations, graphs, charts, and iMovies. They select a project that interests them. Each student researches using books, the internet, observation, interviews, consultations and more to gather information. They then create an experiment or field study, or create a demonstration of their knowledge. Students have created brochures that advertise biomes in zoos, theme-park rides that demonstrate understanding of physics, television weather reports to demonstrate understanding of causes and consequences of storms, building circuits, inventing machines that solve a current problem and many more. Science come alive for each student. Rubrics are co-created with the teacher and peers. Assessments help students review knowledge and/or skills as necessary.

Social Studies

Instructional Goals

Students understand and apply cultural, historical, economic, political, ethical and geographical knowledge and skills in order to become thoughtful and committed citizens. Students become historians as they identify complex themes throughout history. They utilize biographies, original documents, eye-witness accounts, oral histories, photographs, maps, works of art, music, historical documents, books, magazines, DVDs and interviews to synthesize and apply insights to their own lives and the lives of those from the past and the future.

Instructional Strategies

Using the State Common Core as the essential, each grade level has an area of concentration from the study of self, community, state, nation, world, ancient history and American history government. Students read, listen to speeches, interview experts or participants, watch video re-enactments, role -play in mock congresses, take expeditions and study original artifacts to further their understanding of people, principles, issues, opinions, causes, effects and more. They are asked to debate, create artifacts, chart comparisons, draw graphs, give speeches, write biographies, defend positions and design web pages, and blogs from the past or the future. In short, our students become historians. They are asked to build knowledge and skills and to adopt the attitudes of a world citizen. In our project-based model, students have choice and co-create both rubrics and other assessments to ensure understanding and retention.

Physical Education

Instructional Goals

Students maintain a proficient level of physical fitness through regular exercise, nutritional eating and activities that require movement. Students identify rules of games, display good sportsmanship and commit to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Students demonstrate knowledge of the elements of health and fitness including nutrition, muscular strength, agility, aerobic capacity, flexibility, physiology and positive attitude. They are committed to care for their bodies and to avoid habits of abuse.

Instructional Strategies

With our current facilities, we have limited ability to offer physical education. We do offer fitness, yoga and dance in our weekly lab classes. The fitness class works with nutrition, heart rate, fitness routines and health. In addition, teachers utilize lunch activity time to play cooperative games. Home study includes opportunities to enhance knowledge, skills and positive attitudes toward health and physical fitness. We believe getting students moving and dedicated to health and fitness is essential for life-long learning.

Art and Performing Arts

Instructional Goals

Students display knowledge and skills in dance, music, theater and the visual arts of drawing and painting. Students choose to draw, paint, read music, play an instrument, sing, dance, and act to creatively express historic and cultural themes, personal and social issues, and original works of art.

Instructional Strategies

Classes in the visual and performing arts are offered during elective labs. In addition, students are invited to apply concepts through cartoons, iMovies, PowerPoint presentations, graphic posters and more. We sponsor a musical, talent shows, a play and other opportunities to learn and to demonstrate interest and talent in these areas. We do so many projects and exhibitions that the arts and performing arts are highlighted at all times.

Learning to Learn

Instructional Goals

Students prepare for the complexity of life and work by demonstrating creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration in their interactions, assignments, presentations and community involvement. They can identify personal learning styles, intelligences, interests, and developmental ability and are appreciative of the unique learning preferences of others. They are becoming self-directed in establishing learning goals based on Common Core requirements and personal interests. They create learning maps based on goals and learning styles and neuropsychological research and findings.

Instructional Strategies

IShine offers a learning to learn class for student’s grades 4-8. This class, iLearn, is one of the five basic classes and meets Monday-Thursday. Students study their own learning styles, intelligences, interests, talents and preferences. They also study research about the brain and learning. They learn how to create animation, iMovies, PowerPoint presentations, graphics for their charts, mind mapping, and other strategies that help them to apply, synthesize and create. They also study community service opportunities as well as internships. Student government and leadership skills is also the content of this class. In grades K-3 each teacher introduces learning styles, multiple intelligences, interests, talents as they utilize relevant brain- mind findings. Our program makes an effort to stay state of the art.

Media and Technology Skills

Instructional Goals

Students are critical thinking skills to analyze, synthesize, evaluate and innovate demonstrating literacy with information, media and technology. They operate in a technology-rich world with increasing capacities to use information and media to research, collaborate, communicate and create in a dynamically changing world.

Instructional Strategies

Students have opportunities to use our chrome books in every class. Students research on the internet, write essays and save to google, produce interviews and surveys and work with math practice games. They also work on iPads to create PowerPoint presentations, design animation, iMovies, complete research, create blogs and websites, and write documents. Our efforts are to utilize digital opportunities to advance learning.

Social Emotional Intelligence

Instructional Goals

Students demonstrate respect, kindness and appreciation of others. They demonstrate initiative, self-direction, leadership and responsibility in assignments, student government, and community projects with their families and friends. They identify with people of different cultures and differing points of view, demonstrating empathy and the skills of inquiry, understanding, and compassion. Students acknowledge the importance of being accountable for their beliefs, behavior, and accomplishments; they work to become productive and participative in various environments.

Instructional Strategies

iShine students participate in community meetings, do community service and work to demonstrate respect daily. We use a positive discipline approach, which emphasizes dignity no matter what. Students identify their own problems and issues, make amends and co-create a path to change. Each classroom has community meetings where they take up behavior and work to create a kind, respectful environment for everyone. We have a zero tolerance for bullying and have teachers who believe in the potential of each child. We emphasize personal knowledge of self and encourage students to demonstrate kindness and acceptance of each other at all times. This idea is central to the safe-to-risk learning space of iShine.

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