Gateway STEM Academy (GSA) students will have access to rich and extensive educational learning opportunities through inquiry-based, hands-on classroom science, math activities, engineering initiatives and will use current technology to collect and analyze informative data. The school will provide an environment where students, teachers and families find the Scientists, Technologists, Engineers and Mathematicians in themselves through leadership and advancement in the No Excuse model while utilizing the whole child approach. Planned curricula in the four core academic areas are listed below.
Language Arts/Literacy Curriculum
To achieve success in literacy, GSA will address literacy through a rigorous application of differentiated instruction. Our students will come to us with a wide degree of skills and knowledge; it is our responsibility to adjust our instructional practices to meet our students’ needs. Instructional practice alone cannot meet student needs; a well-rounded research based curriculum is needed as the vehicle to allow instructional differentiation to take place. The goal of literacy instruction is to help children gain skills in all domains of language development, including reading, writing, listening and speaking. GSA will encourage students to become lifelong readers who can comprehend information presented in both academic and everyday life. Planned elements of the language arts program include the following.
1) 6+ 1 Trait Writing:Writing skills are important for an increasing number of jobs. Poor writing skills are a barrier to hiring and promotion for many individuals, and remediation of problems with writing imposes significant operational and training costs on public and private organizations (Casner-Lotto, Rosenblum, & Wright, 2009; National Commission on Writing, 2004, 2005). Writing is also important for the development of reading skills (Graham & Hebert, 2010) and can improve learning in other academic content areas (Bangert-Drowns, Hurley, & Wilkinson, 2004). In response to the perceived neglect of writing in United States education, the National Commission on Writing proposed a set of recommendations for making writing a central element in school reform efforts (National Commission on Writing, 2006).2) Harcourt Journeys:A 2009 study carried out by the Educational Research Institute of America found that students who received instruction using the Harcourt Journeys program had statistically significant growth in reading skills and strategy achievement when compared to students in the control group. These positive results were found for a cross-section of students in first and fifth grades across four states, with populations of students like those whom will be served by GSA. The scope and sequence of Harcourt Journey and supplemental materials align with Minnesota’s state content standards and offer additional content challenge, as well.3) Fountas & Pinnell:Fountas & Pinnell books will be used for guided independent reading activities, helping to instill a love of reading. Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention will be used for special education instruction.4) Technology EnhancedCurriculum and Assessment Online platforms use gamification to encourage and enhance reading engagement and to continually monitor and assess reading progress
The goal of math instruction is to provide foundational math knowledge for everyday life and to develop a solid platform for higher-order math learning. GSA teachers will guide students to actively construct their knowledge of mathematical concepts (i.e. math literacy) while becoming proficient at performing math (i.e. operational proficiency).
(1)BRIDGES in Mathematics by the Mathematic Learning Center.
Bridges in Mathematics curriculum focuses on developing students’ deep understandings of mathematical concepts, proficiency with key skills, and ability to solve complex and novel problems. Bridges blends direct instruction, structured investigation, and open exploration. It taps into the intelligence and strengths of all students by presenting material that is as linguistically, visually, and kinesthetically rich as it is mathematically powerful.(2) Khan Academy
In addition to the formal math curricula, GSA teachers will access Khan Academy. Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. The web-based resource guides learners from kindergarten to calculus using state-of-the-art, adaptive technology that identifies strengths and learning gaps. Khan Academy has partnered with institutions like NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, The California Academy of Sciences, and MIT to offer specialized content. This resource will allow our teachers to ‘flip’ classrooms to meet the needs of diverse learners. For example, Khan Academy will provide opportunities for gifted learners to be exposed to higher level concepts and ideas while giving struggling learners additional highly enriched practice.
The goal of science instruction is to inspire thinking skills necessary for scientific inquiry and to introduce students to the wonder of science. GSA students will gain positive attitudes towards science education and more confidence in their scientific abilities.
FOSS (Full Option Science System) curriculum, developed by the industry-leading Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California-Berkeley, engages students through activity-based learning. A 1996 study found that third- and fifth-grade students using the FOSS program outperformed students who were not using the FOSS on the science portion of the Stanford Achievement Test. FOSS students also achieved higher scores in reading comprehension, mathematics computation, and mathematics applications.
Social Studies Curriculum
The goal of the social studies curriculum is to engage students in learning about government, economics, culture, and geography from past, present, and future aspects of society. GSA will support all students in being responsible citizens of their community. Elements of our social studies program will include:Reading Curriculum
- NCSS Online National Teachers’ Library, Minnesota Center for Social Studies Education, the Minnesota History Museum, and National Geographic provide online detailed lesson plans for teachers to follow on a variety of topics in history, economics, citizenship, government, and geography.
- Harcourt Social Studies Curriculum States and Regions and Making a New Nation provide themes, skills, and lesson plans and include hands-on activities and technology exploration. These textbooks and materials meet the national core curriculum standards and will be supplemented with the resources listed for all grades to meet U.S. history strands of the MN Social Studies Standards.
- Northern Lights 2nd edition created by the Minnesota Historical Society, meets Minnesota social studies standards. Northern Lights materials include interactive investigations that reference primary sources and make connections among history, civics, economics, and geography. Includes enriched American Indian content.
The reading curricula as well as Bridges in Mathematics are aligned with common core standards, which serve as the basis of the Minnesota Academic Standards. Additionally, as part of our teachers’ professional development, GSA will continually review and establish the essential learning targets based on Minnesota Academic Standards.
As a public school, GSA is aware of its obligation to serve all students, regardless of educational, physical, or behavioral needs. Indeed, GSA believes the No Excuse model coupled with the whole child approach is especially relevant to special education students.Additonal Information
Accommodations (access to the learning) and modifications (changes to the rigor) will be made balancing individual student needs with adherence to the belief of high expectations for all. We will meet each individual’s need by setting modified or enriched goals according to the Individualize Education Plan and/or the data gathered on a regular basis from various instructional probes and assessments. Examples may include orally reading the assessments or assignments to students who require this modification; assessing students in a small group or one-on-one setting; allowing students to listen to books on tape or computer for their independent reading time; and small-group instruction in all curriculum areas to allow for pre-teaching and/or re-teaching of skills.
Academic choice options will be given to students as often as possible to allow for student choice, engagement, and differentiation.We also will use the arts in our teaching, including music, drama, storytelling and visual art to assist students understand concepts. Learning environments expose students to a wide variety of disciplines and draw upon student interests. Class size will be small because we want more student-teacher relationships, peer relationships, and student achievement. A small class size of no more than 25 students will be maintained kindergarten through grade 6. In addition to classroom teachers, each grade will have an education assistant. Small class sizes, extended schedules, and field-trip experiences engage students in learning.