Our teachers are educational professionals who choose the curriculum materials they want to use in the class. They have access to various materials hand selected by our Head of School who presents at conferences around the country and brings back the best materials and curriculum available. Teachers build units based on the needs and interests of the children in their classroom and use the state standards as a guide to make sure there are no learning gaps.
Teachers follow the Arizona Core Standards for each grade level as a starting point to build their units. They can then modify to cover standards and concepts children may need from prior years and move to higher grade level standards if children are ready to accelerate.
Teachers use Khan Academy (or similar program based on student needs) as a basic outline for Math instruction. These programs provide a placement assessment, individualized pacing, concept assessments, video tutorials, etc. Teachers monitor the online program to check student progress and provide additional enrichment and supplemental support each day.
Physical Education, Music, World Languages, and the Arts
Being a small school and just starting off, we will not offer individual courses for these areas. We are focusing on the core academic subjects, but will integrate the arts in our thematic units. We also encourage students to bring in their passions and include these areas within our learning units and projects. In addition, we are fortunate to have The Gifted Collective’s office manager who is a trained yoga instructor. She will be having yoga with our classes from time to time.
Curriculum, Communication, & Parent Input
We believe in our teachers and that they are the educational experts. They will choose activities and materials that they believe are age and developmentally appropriate for our children. Teachers will do their best to share the curriculum they are using with families as they go, but cannot share everything ahead of time.
Books chosen for novel studies are based on curriculum needs, standards, and student interest. Teachers will share the titles with families ahead of time, but alternate materials may not be available based on the lesson objectives.
We are a secular and inclusive school. We welcome all children, who are a good fit with our educational philosophy, and their families. We do not push political agendas but will not stop children from talking about their families, their religious beliefs, values, etc. We encourage learning, acceptance, caring, and understanding of all individuals, and we do not censor our materials or curriculum to cater to political or religious beliefs.
It is natural that not everyone will agree with something brought up in a classroom, from either teachers or other children. If you are concerned with something that is said in class, we ask you to give the benefit of the doubt, use it as a learning opportunity to have a discussion with your child. We also encourage you to have open communication with our teachers and reach out to them if you have concerns.
Grading & Communication
The Gifted Microschool does not have a traditional grading system. We believe in following standards and meeting the student where they are at with their needs and interests. We do not believe in setting up a grading system that many times detracts from teaching and learning and even becomes punitive to children.
Learning Progressions, Not Grades –
At Gifted Microschool, teachers document each student’s progression through state standards and assess children as they move through the content. This is done in Student Learning Binders.
Learning Binders –
Each student has their own binder that contains:
- A checklist of Arizona State Standards (Many times with multiple grade levels)
- Rubrics providing feedback on projects and larger activities
- Student reflections and personal learning goals
- Reading and Math progression assessments
Students also take ownership of their learning and document their individual progress in their Learning Binders, with the teachers, to show what they have learned. The Learning Binders have a list of grade level standards that children and teachers sign off on when a skill has been mastered. Mastery of skills/standards is documented after an assignment, project, activity, or teacher observation has shown that a skill has been learned in class. Students do not have to take a traditional test to show to prove what they learned and are not “given” grades. Learning Binders track a student’s learning of standards/concepts/skills and teachers use rubrics to help guide, assess, and provide feedback to children on projects along the way.
The only traditional assessments our children take are to track reading and math abilities. They are for information gathering only and are not assigned grades. We are a private school and do not currently have to participate in state standardized testing.
Teachers do not assign “typical” homework assignments. Any work that does not get done in class may be brought home to work on. This could be a math lesson, reading a book, researching as part of a project, etc. These kinds of activities will happen from time to time, but no set homework will be assigned as routine.
How Do I Know How My Child Is Doing?
We have frequent opportunities to check in with our teachers. Since we have a very small class size, each child gets more attention from the teacher than at a typical school. Teachers provide regular communications about classroom performance, behavior, and academic achievements. Parents are also able to come in and meet with teachers regularly and see their child’s Learning Binders. Our goal is to create a family of support for our children.
Teachers will collaborate to set up a communication system that provides weekly communication, a process for parents to contact them, and allows them an appropriate school/life balance. This will be shared when enrollment is approved.