Silverleaf utilizes methods of instruction that have been proven effective for eager students with a love of learning. Students have their own learning plan. While some skills may be taught in small groups, most are taught individually–both in pace and content. We assess proficiency against the core standards though we do not have “grade levels.” It is common for a Silverleaf student to be working on skills that span 2-4 grade levels in a traditional school.
PROJECT BASED LEARNING
Our project-based approach allows students to dive deeply into subjects they are individually passionate about. Projects embed foundational subject areas of mathematics, language arts, science and social studies on an individualized and proficiency-based level. Emphasizing both teamwork and independent learning, projects inspire creativity and innovation while teaching skills in problem solving, systems thinking and project management.
We want our students to be good stewards of our world’s resources and conscientious citizens that have cultural tolerance. Our projects may incorporate service learning and components that raise environmental and cultural awareness.
All projects have a visual element that could be drawn, engineered/created, or even done in a PowerPoint presentation. Students present all of their projects to the class so they can practice public speaking and so that all students get to learn about the subjects that other students study–students essentially get to teach what they’ve studied which develops mastery.
This approach to instruction emphasizes critical thinking, self-reflection, and creativity while also teaching safe and effective research skills, project planning techniques and presentation skills. Students engage in project-based learning every day of the week.
We utilize resources from multiple PBL curricula, particularly from various Prufrock Press publications as well as Genius Hour materials.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are essential skills for the 21st century. Information, technology, and artificial intelligence are advancing at light speed. Students must understand the fundamental principles of these subject areas and have the ability to work in partnership with technology in order to be successful in the world in which they will work.
These essential subjects, which are typically offered to students in 5th grade or higher and/or as after-school enrichment opportunities, are part of our standard subjects and are taught to all Silverleaf students, regardless of age. We use a range of curriculum resources for science, technology and engineering. In math and science we use menus to support differentiation and we use mathematics curriculum specifically designed by experts in gifted education to meet the needs of gifted learners.
LANGUAGE ARTS and HUMANITIES
Reading and writing strategies, and mechanics of language as well as social studies are largely incorporated into project-based learning (PBL). This inquiry-driven approach allows students to investigate topics they are interested in learning. We utilize techniques and curriculum to support development of the essential skill of critical thinking. Along with PBL and menus to support differentiation in social studies and language arts, we utilize Jacob’s Ladder reading comprehension program.
Students learn keyboarding, cursive, and any other techniques that may help them in processing language. Foreign Language instruction in Spanish is also provided.
Mixed media arts is provided to all students as stand-alone instruction and is a naturally recurring element of STEM and project-based learning. Students learn foundational art techniques and then the sky’s the limit. Students work on individual projects rather than the approach found at traditional schools where all students make the same thing.
Due to COVID-19, the music program is suspended for the 2020-21 school year.
Performing/theatrical arts elements may be incorporated into some of the project topics throughout the year.
Personal wellness is important to us. Students engage in physical education class every day which may include games, calisthenics and yoga.
Students are provided instruction in emotional/social well-being to provide them with awareness of what is happening in their bodies and brains, as tools for lifelong success. We offer diverse resources to support the differences among children and have some resources specifically designed to support wellness in gifted children.
Students have two recesses per day.
Throughout the school day, we work to foster essential skills. We recognize effort and achievement in these skills through our BLAST Program as well. The essential ROCKETBOTS skills, as we have defined them, are: Respect, Originality, Communication, Kindness, Empathy, Trustworthiness, Boldness, Open-mindedness, Teamwork, and Service.
Experiential learning is an important part of our model. We go on field trips monthly (except in months with extended school breaks such as December and March). Parent chaperones are required to participate in field trips with students. This is a great time for us to break away from school and explore our community together.
Due to COVID-19, field trips for 2020-21 are cancelled until further notice.