Curriculum & Instruction
Our charter school goal is for student “success” to include mastery of both content and emotions, so that students can meaningfully connect with each other, be part of any community, and courageously decide who they are in the world and how they want the world to be. Our teachers use a variety of instructional approaches and practices to plan lessons and engage students in rich and meaningful learning.
Our charter school learning model is based on Constructivism, a theory in which knowledge is built (or constructed) on earlier knowledge. We structure learning to build on what students already know and support them in revising and refining their understanding as they work toward mastery. We believe that people learn best when the process is active and hands on, relevant, accessible and developmentally appropriate. CWC teachers use a variety of instructional practices and approaches to bring this theory to life in each classroom.
Social Emotional Development
At Citizens of the World East Valley, we believe that Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is integral to academic success. A number of tools have been blended together to create an SEL program that specifically develops skills in:
Social Emotional Development is the process through which children learn to understand and manage emotions, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
- Self-awareness – recognizing one’s emotions and values as well as one’s strengths
- Self-management – managing emotions and behaviors to set and achieve one’s goals
- Responsible decision-making – making ethical and constructive choices about one’s behavior
- Social awareness – showing understanding and empathy for others, specifically those with different backgrounds than one’s own.
- Relationship skills – forming positive relationships with diverse individuals. By working in teams, dealing effectively with conflict and active listening.
Mindfulness is at the core of this program. We believe that mindfulness creates space for students, changing their impulsive reactions to more thoughtful responses.
Responsive Classroom is a student-centered, social and emotional learning approach to teaching and discipline. It comprises a set of research, and evidence-based practices designed to create safe, joyful, and engaging classrooms and school communities for both students and teachers.
Cool Tools is a conflict resolution system developed at UCLA Lab School which guides young children in resolving conflicts by using concrete objects to teach abstract concepts. Cool Tools vividly teaches lifelong strategies for handling all forms of conflict through the use of a toolbox filled with objects such as kaleidoscopes, mazes, bubbles, toothpaste tubes and more. These “tools” serve as prompts to help children explore, understand, and remember behaviors and concepts such as inclusion, integrity, kindness, personal space, forgiveness, and many others.
Through designated SEL sessions and in an environment dedicated to social and emotional intelligence, children are learning how to be happier and healthier, working and learning effectively.
Balanced Literacy is a dynamic framework for language arts instruction that encompasses all the elements needed for students to master reading, writing, and oral communication skills. The hallmark of our English Language Arts program is the implementation of a smaller, mixed-age group taking part in leveled reading instruction across the elementary years. CWC teachers utilize curricular materials including Lucy Calkins Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop approach, Fountas and Pinnell’s Continuum of Literacy Learning, and more. Our teachers provide targeted instruction to small groups of students to support early literacy to emerging readers and writers, meeting each child at their current level and moving them forward with a balanced approach to developing technical reading and writing skills, reading for learning across the curriculum, and a nuanced appreciation for and understanding of uses of the written word in different genres and by the use of authentic texts.
Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) is an approach that deeply informs our teaching at Citizens of the World Charter School East Valley. In Math Workshop, teachers create and pose different types of story problems to students. Problems are differentiated to meet the needs of all learners in the classroom, and children are encouraged to use a variety of tools to explain their thinking to their peers. Children have opportunities to work in whole group partnerships, as well as independently to solve a variety of problem types, utilizing many different solution strategies. CWC teachers utilize the CGI approach and Illustrative Mathematics to support children’s mathematical thinking skills by allowing students time and opportunities to draw upon their own math knowledge, while learning new ways to approach problems by working collaboratively with their peers.
CWC Inquiry is a space for students to explore and grapple with questions about themselves, and their relationships, and their local/global communities. Their exploration of these questions, which often have no concrete answers, center around a real-world, relevant project. These inquiry projects are rooted in responding to needs, problems, or challenges that exist in the self, family, school, neighborhood, and world. Inquiry Projects respond to these needs, problems, or challenges by offering creative responses or solutions. Drawing on the skills and content from English language arts and mathematics, and combining with the California State Standards in social studies and the Next Generation Science Standards, integrated projects enable meaningful learning through life-based, active projects that often incorporate opportunities to tie in art, music, movement, and more to bring them to life. This approach allows children to experience learning within a real world context. Emphasizing the Graduate Dispositions such as collaboration, critical thinking, global advocacy and cultural competency in conjunction with the skills of communication, problem solving, planning, reflection, and perseverance, these learning experiences are frequently driven by student interests and questions, allowing students to engage in investigations that bring about deeper understanding of thematic concepts and the big ideas that guide each grade level’s projects.
Art at CWC is an exploratory journey where children not only learn about art but also about themselves, their world, and each other. Our students participate in a rich curriculum that fosters their skills as artists who have opportunities to explore and create art works in a variety of different mediums. Children learn how to develop their imaginations, self-expression, and ideas through both independent and group projects, while learning about art connected to a multitude of cultures and studying artists with diverse backgrounds. Like all things at CWC, our visual arts program incorporates and embeds collaboration and group problem solving, therefore presenting yet another authentic opportunity for students to practice and apply their social-emotional learning and ability to work with others. Art is taught both as a stand-alone and valuable domain of its own as dedicated classes within class schedules while also being integrated into the curricular topics and themes of each grade level.
CWC’s music program strives to provide children with opportunities to sing songs, play instruments and create musical compositions of their own. Children learn to describe music using the eight musical elements – melody, rhythm, harmony, dynamics, timbre, texture, structure and tempo. Children are exposed to music from different cultures, musical periods and rich musical traditions from around the world. As with visual arts, music is both taught as a stand-alone and valuable domain of its own while also integrated and connected to the curricular topics and themes at each grade level.
In Physical Education, children develop their confidence and skills with an emphasis on body and space awareness. Students learn personal versus shared space, fundamental locomotor, as well as non-locomotor, manipulative skills, and applications. The introduction of team lead-up and cooperative games and activities help to promote good sportsmanship and fair team play. Sport-specific units of study include basketball, soccer, tennis, kickball, and volleyball. In addition to the vast array of sports skills and team sports fundamentals that are taught, activities practicing effective social skills such as active listening, conflict resolution, and compromising with others are interwoven as well.
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