EDUCATIONAL APPROACH

Learning Rigor

Academic Standards, Learning Frameworks and Assessment Frameworks ensure a solid foundation for current and future learning.

Standards

NY State Standards - Common Core
New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) are internationally-benchmarked and evidence-based standards. These rigorous standards serve as a consistent set of expectations for what students should learn and be able to do.
 

Learning Frameworks

A research-based, fully articulated sequential development of mathematical concepts and skills, with a strong focus of learning through student investigation, practice and practical application to real world situations.

A developmentally appropriate exploration of scientific concepts and knowledge coupled with the learning of the scientific method; a strong focus is placed on exploration through hands-on activity. Teachers are alert to individual interests and frequently extend activity to incorporate those interests. Topics are often integrated with the transdisciplinary Units of Exploration.

Units of Exploration relating to year-long overarching social study themes are experienced through project-based student inquiry. Supported by a wide array of resources and drawing on various subject disciplines, children build understanding through research, field trips, a wide array of hands-on, project-based activities, and ongoing reflection and expression of learning. Grade PreK - Family / Grade K1 - Transportation / Grade K2 - Water / Grade 1 - Community / Grade 2 - Dubai Now and Then / Grade 3 - Traveler's Traders / Grade 4 5 – Egypt / Grade 6 – Immigration

Music, visual arts, theatre and dance are vital at Clarion. These areas are critical to the Clarion experience serving as an avenue for creativity, expression and skill development to ignite and expand the interests of your child. Teachers in each of these areas hold specialized arts education degrees.

Second language program based on the standards for the teaching of languages developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). Children will be linguistically and culturally prepared to function as world citizens.

Assessment Framework

A digital and paper collection which gathers important student work as created by students throughout the year. The portfolios provide understanding of student development as seen through the lens of actual student work. Teachers and students partner to choose the student work and associated assessment documents for inclusion in the portfolios. Periodically the student reviews the portfolio (independently and in collaboration with teachers, parents and peers), to reflect upon their growth and development and to consider and establish goals for future learning. The portfolio is an important vehicle for celebrating the child’s growth.

Reflection and social learning are two of the most powerful factors which support learning. Clarion students work with their teachers to record their learning journeys using a wide variety of media and techniques. These “records” provide many opportunities for students to reflect on their journeys with peers, teachers and parents. The reflection upon experience and planning for future experience drives a deep level of understanding and ownership of the learning experience. A powerful skill and mindset the child takes with them through life.

An external standardized test to objectively monitor individual student growth and attainment - with benchmarking both locally and internationally – helping to provide quality assurance of a school’s academic program as well as highlight areas of support for individual children. The test is conducted three times per year in Math, Literacy and Science.

The Cognitive Abilities Test provides insight into a student’s potential. Teachers use this information to ensure they are setting goals and providing instruction so that students achieve or exceed the level matching their potential. This diagnostic test is conducted at the beginning of each school year.

The development of learning rigor and the current role played by schools are no longer enough.For children to continually adapt and succeed in a dynamic world, they need to be self-directed and life-long learners across all contexts. Clarion focuses on developing these critical mindsets, skills and values.

Mindsets

Children are continually prompted to find-out, investigate, experiment, observe and try things. This support and opportunity allow the child’s curiosity to flourish, to grow like a plant when provided just the right amount of water and nutrients. Often when realizing a child’s keen interest in something, the teacher follows up with supporting activities, incorporating those interests into core learning.

Developmentally appropriate risk taking is critical to learning. Children are supported in acting and thinking in ways where the outcome or the effect of their effort may not immediately (or at times ever), achieve the desired result. Children are helped to understand that such experiences provide powerful opportunities for learning and are a necessary part of growth and development. Children are recognized and celebrated for trying something even when immediate gain is not guaranteed.

Leading a caring, responsible, self-fulfilling and productive life requires that we take care of our spirit, our mind and our body. Teachers frequently visit this topic as part of daily classroom life and through topic study. Good nutrition, the proper amount of exercise and recreation, healthy relationships, mental and physical relaxation, intellectual stimulation and accessing health care in a timely fashion are critical understandings to promote your child’s well-being.

Skills

Clarion students become highly adept in all areas of communication through active learning. Communication is best learned as students are expected to collaborate and convey their thoughts, ideas and learnings. Our teachers recognize that students need to be active communicators in all learning environments. Communication is seen not only as the ability to speak, read, write and listen, but as a critical tool in reflecting on learning and building greater meaning and understanding.

Children are guided in becoming ever more sophisticated at working socially to learn and accomplish goals. The ability to collaborate with others and be productive is essential even in trying circumstances. Through frequent opportunities to work together, and by providing students with guidance in developing the skills and attitudes necessary to productively collaborate, students become comfortable and confident working with others. Students learn how to move their group beyond difficult situations to ensure that the group achieves its goals.

Students are continually encouraged to develop their own ideas, to make things based on their own thinking. They learn to understand that creation is an act which requires them acting on their thinking by responding to their explorations, experiences, interests, needs, information, reflections and learnings. Teachers recognize that becoming a creative person is fostered by providing children with many opportunities to “create”; an understanding which requires teachers to also plan for intentional but open-ended activities that support such creativity. Teachers know that creation is not necessarily about making something new to the world; it is more often about making something new to the individual. It is in the act of creation that all knowledge, skills and dispositions come together and are given life. The desire and act of creating moves the child to higher levels of understanding.

Values

Children learn to appreciate and be thankful for what they have, and are exposed to and reflect upon those who less fortunate. These values are developed in Units of Exploration, fieldwork, daily class meetings, community service and many other daily activities. Modeling by staff is critical to this learning.

Integrity is infused into the classroom culture through both explicit and implicit instruction. In addition, Moral Education is delivered as part of Ministerial requirements. Expressions of integrity are valued and recognized. Examples of integrity are reviewed through both historical and current events.

Students taking responsibility for their behavior and their learning is critical to the classroom being a safe and productive learning environment. Students become responsible as a consequence of ongoing discussion in the class. Children are guided to identify, analyze and agree on sets of expectations that all children must demonstrate. Teachers watch, interact and give feedback to students individually, in small groups and with the whole class to reflect on their “demonstrations” of responsibility. Becoming responsible is a process developed over days and years and through many to opportunities to practice, get feedback, reflect and reengage.

For powerful learning to occur, it needs to be applied – “learning by doing”. By applying the design thinking process to challenging activities and projects, students come to a deep understanding of what they are learning and to how to use these learnings to problem solve, create and communicate.

On a daily basis we connect learning to the environment in which we live. Students gain more meaning when they can learn in and through the real world in their immediate surroundings. They better learn global concepts and principles when they can personally experience examples of those concepts and principles at work in their immediate environment: mathematics on the streets and in the grocery store; science on the canals and the metro; design and art in buildings; community service at the local fire station and in the hospital.

We learn in a powerful, engaging and motivating manner. Students develop deep understanding and ability to apply and share what they are learning. The learning is active, built around wondering, questioning, finding-out, experimenting, analyzing, constructing understanding, reflecting, sharing and applying knowledge. The teacher’s role is to guide and inspire learning, not deliver it.

A corner stone of all learning is students being engaged in their learning. Teachers ensure that learning activities provide opportunities for students to move, touch, discuss, experiment, think independently, question, share; to be actively engaged in their learning.

Students are guided to create tangible expressions of their learning. Often, they incorporate Design Based practices and at other times their creations are spontaneous and impulsive. The critical factor is that children become comfortable in applying acquired knowledge and skill using a wide range of strategies and media as they become inspired to share, reflect upon and record their experiences, their feelings and their learning.

Methodically planning the creation of a product (art, app, writing, sculpture, musical composition, skit, speech, etc.), students learn the power of setting an objective, creating a plan of action and following through with execution and review. The principles involved are reflected at: https://www.pblworks.org/what-is-pbl/gold-standard-project-design.

Students are continually supported in reflecting on all their experiences, their effort and their acts of creation. They use this activity to deepen their learning, to appreciate their learning and to guide them in their future learning. Little meaningful learning occurs without meaningful reflection. Reflection occurs through frequent whole class meetings, small group meetings, one-on-one teacher-student and student-student meetings and students independently thinking about and expressing their thoughts in writing and with a wide range of media and expressive forms.

The capacity to ensure that children develop through and between each of the domains of learning requires a powerful ecosystem. We have built a comprehensive and dynamic culture of learning; an environment where everyone is learning with and from each other; children, parents, teachers and administrators. This ecosystem is supported by having 2 qualified educators in each classroom.

Powerful learning is filled with life, with sharing with others, with excitement and humor and fun as well as hard work and disappointment. At school we learn as a “Community of Learners”, helping and supporting one another to achieve and celebrate our accomplishments during our learning journeys.

At Clarion, there is an understanding that we are co-learning with our students and we work alongside them as partners in the learning process. It takes a unique educator who not only has a strong insight into child development, but is both experienced and appreciative of this way of learning. Children, even very young children, are recognized as fully functioning learners with well-formed ideas and interests.

Students are supported in wondering about their environment, themselves, their classmates, and others. Teachers support and expect children to be active learners by asking questions and by following their interests. Teachers support children by allowing and encouraging their “wonder” to drive activity which helps them to better understand themselves and their world.

A set of educational practices which places the child at the center of the learning ecosystem. Teachers develop close personal relationships with each child through focused observation, ongoing discussions and continual review of the child’s work. The teacher guides the class in creating an emotionally supportive and motivating learning environment which is relevant, challenging, engaging and tuned to the interests of the children. Students develop into independent learners who take responsibility for and have pride in their learning and their role as a productive member of the learning community. The responsible and independent level of the children allows the teachers the freedom to craft support which meets individual student needs.

Curriculum related “out of school expeditions” and travel help the children develop deeper understanding of the topics explored in school. The activity helps children to regularly apply their knowledge and develop the Clarion Character of Learners. The trips are exciting, interesting and motivating, and help children connect their learning to the “real world”.

Good learning happens in a “just” environment. A “just” environment develops when children take the moral principles they are developing and learn to consistently put them into practice as they meet the challenges of working with each other on a daily basis. The teacher guides this process through an ongoing cycle of the children reflecting upon upcoming challenges, considering the response of the class to challenges it has encountered and using the knowledge gained from those encounters to build ever more sophisticated and effective ways of collaborating with each other in mutually beneficial and fair ways.

Teachers hold advanced degrees and/or have extensive experience working in a progressive educational environment and are experienced using the programs and frameworks adopted by the school. In addition, each classroom has two qualified teachers.Teachers demonstrate a passion for being continuous learners, learning alongside their students.

At Clarion, teachers are recognized as the critical factor in creating and delivering a powerful and effective learning environment. They are supported in understanding and executing the Clarion approach to teaching learning through the employment of evidence based professional development models. These models emulate the teaching delivered in the classroom; a dynamic and vibrant approach to learning.

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