At DSI, we know that reading and writing skills do not always develop linearly. Our team of literacy experts have created a skills continuum from Kindergarten to 6th grade, allowing teachers to identify students’ competencies and areas of growth over time. Our spiraling curriculum lets students build on their strengths as they set new learning goals and work to achieve them.
Students are immersed in literacy, so writing comes easy to them. They have exposure to many high-quality mentor texts which helps to generate ideas. As students engage in Writer’s Workshop, they explore the writing process, story structure, craft, and language conventions. Our main priority is to instill a love for writing. Through mini-lessons focused on the craft of writing, we introduce a variety of strategies and genres applicable to each grade level. We focus on a five-step writing process: capturing an idea, transferring that idea to a draft, revising and editing, and publishing. Finally, Author’s Chair is used to share pieces of work, giving young authors valuable peer feedback. Our students' success in newly found writing skills and being brave enough to try out new craft moves is celebrated daily and leads to very adventurous and highly skilled writers.
Our classrooms cultivate a “Culture of Literacy” in which students have ample opportunities to engage with various genres and types of texts. Our lower elementary students may work in small, guided reading groups that support and build students’ skills at developmentally appropriate levels. Teachers carefully monitor the reading development of each child. Across all grade levels, Reader’s Workshop is a time for students to be immersed in entertaining teacher read-alouds, group conversations about books, book clubs, quiet reading and written evidence of their thinking to share. There is much excitement about books!
Our math program is built around the highly acclaimed Bridges In Mathematics curriculum, which develops proficiency through the use of concrete materials, followed by pictorial representations, and finally algorithmic equations. This curriculum focuses on conceptual knowledge before procedural knowledge. Our students gain a deep understanding of mathematical concepts so they can apply their knowledge in a multitude of contexts.
We believe that students’ mindset about math is equally important to their skill development. We explore the benefits of challenges to help students foster a growth mindset about mathematics.
We focus on developing “number sense,” the flexible and fluid thinking about numbers that allows us to work with them. Students learn a variety of math strategies and practice them with plenty of manipulatives.
Additionally, we engage students in the deep problem solving and representative thinking that defines mathematics. Modeling how to talk about math and sharing “math thinking” in groups is part of our daily routine. Students are asked to represent their thinking in various ways and explain their reasoning to others. Through this collaborative work, they learn to expand their thinking as mathematicians.
Design Thinking/Trial and Error
We believe that for optimal learning, children must be given the time to play and experience materials as they use their background knowledge, imagination, and are inspired by others. Using the Design Thinking model of Empathize > Define > Ideate > Prototype > Test > Refine, students tackle various design challenges that encourage them to empathize with others, think creatively, and utilize feedback to improve their design.
Through design thinking, students learn skills that help them define problems in our world, devise solutions, and refine those solutions through collaboration.
If you set strict parameters or give instructions for design prior to allowing students to show you what they can create, you will never learn what they are capable of creating and limit their potential. Adult mentors are present to facilitate learning and capitalize on learning opportunities at they present themselves.
Our students learn that trial and error are an important part of the learning process. Failure is an invitation to learn and improve.
Through design exploration, we help students build skills that will allow them to approach new technologies with an inquiring mind.
Each child’s natural curiosity is the fuel for our inquiry-based Science curriculum. The curriculum is based on the Next Generation Science Standards. Students are encouraged to act as scientists and explore a variety of alternatives, using trial and error to arrive at their conclusions. Through hands-on learning and meaningful projects, students formulate their own scientific understandings with the teacher acting as a facilitator in the learning process.
Scientific learning is integrated across the curriculum in through meaningful projects and activities.
Our Social Studies curriculum prepares students to be responsible global citizens. Students participate in engaging, enjoyable learning activities. Through experience, students are able to understand that there are multiple perspectives to historical events.
Students have the opportunity to role-play and communicate their interpretation of events with others as they learn how others have a different understanding of the same events.
Through student inquiry and content knowledge, students are equipped with the tools necessary to make informed personal and civic decisions.