Inquiry Based Learning

Students learn best when they are actively involved in exploring and constructing knowledge. Therefore learning is active, playful and useful so that students are motivated to investigate the concepts implicit in all their subjects. To develop the skills of intellectual exchange, asking questions and dialogue are modeled and practiced. In addition, the opportunity to review and assess their work is offered to students each day so they can develop the habit of reflection – the hallmark of critical thinking. Sample Units: After studying the solar system, students create their own planets with unique characteristics. Middle school students create survey questions related to teen issues and conduct research projects. Third graders conduct science experiments and invite members of the learning community to their science fair. DDSciencefair

Integrated Thematic Learning

As effective thinking rests on the ability to connect the facts, concepts, and skills a person acquires into an integrated understanding of the world. The curriculum at New City School is designed around deep exploration of topics from multiple points of view. Teachers create thematic units for their classrooms related to a school wide theme. They design units that take into account the skills and concepts to be covered at a particular grade level. Teachers write guiding questions for their units that help the children delve into the study and search for significant answers. Example: Working with the Theme “Sense of Time and Place” Karla Bisco created a unit in which her 3rd and 4th grade students explored the city of Minneapolis and other American cities. The unit included studies of geography, transportation, historical landmarks, city governments and city history.

Academic Choice

To engage learners, a practice called Academic Choice is used. In an Academic Choice lesson, students have the opportunity to make choices about their learning. First, students and teachers plan. As students plan for their learning, they may make choices about the type of project to do, a location to work, the materials needed for the work, or with whom they will work. While the students work independently, the teacher meets with students individually or works with small groups of students. The lesson ends with reflection about the things that were learned and the choices that were made.

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