Our curriculum is theme based and child centered.
Our curriculum is the bridge between our vision and reality. Guided by the bench-marked American Common Core State Standards (Literacy and Mathematics), the American Next Generation Science Standards (Science), and the Australian Early Years Learning Framework, we follow a tailored and differentiated curriculum that is theme-based and child-centered.
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The rich curriculum at Woodland Star is made up of many interactive experiences, hands-on activities, and engaging challenges. For example, when the term theme was Jenga (Kiswahili for build), middle grades students decided they wanted to build customized chairs for the classroom. During this experience learners studied forces in science, designed functional, yet beautiful chairs in art, made spatial and monetary calculations in math, and learned how to use tools to build their chairs during STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) time. Literature is also an enormous part of the curriculum, as is our emphasis on environmental awareness. We have two outdoor “nature classrooms” and a small “shamba” (patch of cultivated land).
We present subjects through contemplative analysis, encouraging our students to identify bias and ask questions. Not only is this approach useful in breaking down fixed self-perceptions, it is a powerful tool in dismantling cultural barriers. In our studies on social justice, we incorporate a progressive curriculum centered on peaceful change and nonviolent resistance to oppression. This curriculum, entitled “Peace Heroes,” has proven incredibly effective in East Jerusalem. It explores global geography, history, and culture through peace heroes such as Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, and Wangari Maathai.
In all aspects of our curriculum, we work towards the sharing of story. This allows children to learn both about themselves, and about the importance of healthy relationships with others. Every child has innate gifts, the ability to actualize his or her passions, and the potential to empower others. This journey of seeing, thinking, and becoming lies at the core of growth. Just as every child can grow, every child can discover how to express his or her own journey of identity, generating connection in his or her world.
At our school, we believe in using assessment to inform and improve teaching and learning. We use a variety of assessments, including performance tasks, portfolios, and MAP testing to track student learning and progress over time. This approach allows us to assess a student’s mastery of a subject and to identify areas for growth and improvement. Our teachers also use formative assessments, such as exit slips and class discussions, to check for understanding, adjust instruction, and provide constructive feedback to students.