Model: Innovation & Best Practice
Charter Schools & Innovation
The Colorado Department of Education notes:
- A charter school has more flexibility than traditional public schools in regards to curriculum, fiscal management, overall school operations, and may offer an education program that is more innovative.
- A charter school may request waivers from provisions of state law and any state or local rule, regulation, policy, or procedure relating to schools in the school district.
- A charter school has flexibility through waivers; however, in exchange for this flexibility, the charter school is bound by contract to be held accountable for meeting the performance-based objectives specified in the charter.
- See more at: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdechart/faq#sthash.Zq1eQdxj.dpuf
An Innovative Combination
AcademyACL focuses on the following elements, some of which may be significantly different than current, traditional practices in the majority of traditional public schools. AcademyACL, as a charter school, is a “non-traditional” public school.
- Every teacher, including Encore teachers, specializes in the needs of advanced, gifted learners
- Multi-age Divisions rather than “graded” classrooms
- Students often experience the same homeroom teacher for two years
- A ‘continuum’ of increasing expectations for students is used over the course of two years in each Division
- A K8 model (kindergarten through eighth grade) rather than a “middle school” model
- All full-time teachers teach all content areas
- Teaching teams plan team-units together on a weekly basis
- Integrated Curriculum Model (Dr. Joyce VanTassel-Baska) focuses on Big Ideas and themes within and between disciplines, with Advanced Content and Differentiated Instruction & Projects designed for students
- Dress code that allows modest, distraction-free clothing, but otherwise varies widely in self-expression
- Tables are provided for students rather than desks, for transition to a variety of seating groups
- Block schedules every morning, school-wide, provide the opportunity for each student to move to the classroom of the math and reading/writing level that they need
- Students eat in the classroom to enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere with ‘dinner time’ conversations encouraged between students (District 11 provides hot lunch program that is carried from the gym)
- Daily thirty-minutes of Fitness and Fun time outside, for every student, from 10-10:30am
- “Recess” is not scheduled as part of a lunch period
- Primary and Middle Divisions typically have an additional afternoon ‘recess’ time
- Upper Division students may also have an afternoon break outside
- Eco-friendly, low VOC paint, from Lowe’s Olympic paint line, with a research-based shade of yellow to support a warm and creative environment
- Natural spectrum and alternative lighting throughout the building
An Approach to Best Practice
Additionally, to implement best practice in education, AcademyACL utilizes the following programs:
- Dr. Robert Marzano’s research on teaching practices, as outlined in the iObservation© program for teacher coaching and evaluation
- Flippen Group’s classroom management system, Capturing Kids’ Hearts© model
- Cultivation of a positive work environment: FISH! Philosophy
- Cultivation of leadership skills in staff and students: 5 Practices of Exemplary Leadership© model
Highlights & Schedule
8:30-10:00 Art of Language
10:00-10:30 Fitness & Fun
10:30-12:00 World of Math
12:30-3:00 Afternoon Inquiry Units (Science/History)
Within this time, a 50-minute Encore class, by Division
3:00-3:10 Goal Setting
Students start at 8:00am with Lifeskills in their homeroom. At 8:30 they move throughout the building to their Art of Language class for the level of instruction that they need. During Fitness and Fun time, 10:00-10:30, students eat snack and enjoy being outside. At 10:30 they move throughout the building to their World of Math class. Often students from two or three “grades” work together during math and reading/writing times in a particular level of Colorado Academic Standards (such as “5th grade” level math).
From 12:00-12:30 they eat lunch in their homerooms, and then in the afternoon they are with their homerooms for Inquiry (scientific and historic units) with one fifty-minute Encore period. Dismissal is at 3:10pm.
Encore (Enhancing the Core) classes include Art, Music/Theater, Spanish, and Physical Education on a rotating basis. Upper Division students also experience two additional Encore classes that may vary from year to year. Encore teachers schedule time in the morning block classes to work with classroom teachers to integrate Encore subjects with math and reading/writing standards.