About Our School
- Incorporates research-based, best teaching practices
- Aligns with Alberta Learning Curriculum Programs of Study
- Provides interdisciplinary curriculum that integrates core curriculum studies, inquiry and project-based learning, technology, and community-based service learning opportunities.
- Provides subject-specific instruction based on student needs
- Promotes mutually-respectful, safe and caring relationships among stakeholders
- Fosters strong character development in students
- Cultivates global sensitivity through an international partnership
Research regarding project-based learning, multiage grouping, service learning:
Inquiry and Project-based learning is a dynamic approach to instruction that provides students with a degree of choice and ownership, enhancing the likelihood that they will maintain a positive attitude toward the understandings they are developing. Schools that make extensive use of project-based learning are bringing opportunities for constructivist learning experiences to their students. Constructivism is a widely supported educational theory that rests on the idea that students create their own knowledge in the context of their own experiences (Fosnot, 1996). Project-based learning, and the constructivist theory upon which it is based, focuses on students being actively engaged in "doing",rather than passively engaged in "receiving" knowledge. Research on improving students higher-order cognitive skills emphasizes the need for students to engage in problem-solving tasks and the need for specific instruction on how to attack and solve problems (Moursund, 1995; Perkins, 1992). Project-based learning experiences provide students with opportunities to plan their approaches to problem solving, thus promoting the development of higher-order thinking skills.
At Botha School, we put students in multi-age groupings only when it is educationally sound to do so. This organization for instruction is done intentionally depending on the teaching situation and on the basis of gender, age-grouping, academic or cognitive ablitity as appropriate to create a positive learning context. For example in this year's 2/3 class, such groupings reduce class size for many activities. The multiage grouping philosophy recognizes that students learn better when they have role models they can turn to for assistance, and when they are able to practice their skills by demonstrating to others. The multiage class is one where differences are accepted and nurturing is valued and encouraged. Research suggests that students benefit in many ways from experiences in multiage classrooms (Miller, 1990). Some argue that, academically, children usually do better in multiage classrooms than in traditional classrooms (Anderson and Pavan, 1993). Children in multiage classrooms often have a greater sense of belonging (Sherman, 1984) and possess more positive social relationships. Miller (1989) reviewed twenty-one studies of multigrade classes. In terms of academic achievement, there were no significant differences between single-grade and multigrade classes, but in terms of emotional factors, results favored the multigrade classes. Students in multigrade classes had more positive attitudes toward school and toward themselves, and more
Research on community-based service learning shows that it can have multiple positive outcomes for participating students. Schools with the best results have linked service learning to standards and have allowed students opportunities to reflect, talk, and write about their service experiences. A great deal of research has been conducted regarding the impact of service learning. Students who engage in service learning are more likely to increase their sense of self-esteem and self-efficacy (Shaffer, 1993). Stephens (1995) shares that students who engage in service learning show increases over time in their awareness of cultural differences and attitudes toward helping others. Follman (1997) reports that students who engage in service learning are less likely to be referred to the office for disciplinary measures. Community members who participate in service learning as partners with the school see youth as valued resources and positive contributors to the community (Billig and Conrad, 1997).
Interdisciplinary Curricula‚Interdisciplinary study in social studies, science, health, and most of Botha‚Äôs literacy instruction is theme-based, provides opportunities for meaningful project-based learning, embeds technology, and fulfills Alberta Learning Curricular Outcomes. A two-year rotating curriculum provides the framework for this interdisciplinary coursework and ensures that every student experiences age-appropriate and sequential instruction across the curriculum throughout the student's tenure at Botha School. This integrated course of study supports student achievement by providing connections among academic subject areas.
Subject-specific Programs‚ Students will receive math and beginning reading instruction in grade level groupings. Teaching staff will review and select programs based on the perceived quality of the learning materials, the comprehensive nature of prescribed curriculum, the appropriateness to the school‚Äôs educational goals, and the ‚Äúfit‚Äù with the students in the class. A strong foundation in children's literature, expository text and developmentally sound instruction will provide a scope and‚ sequence of instruction that is aligned at all levels. We will incorporate a hands-on, discovery approach to science instruction, and a highly rigorous, hands-on program will be selected for mathematics instruction, with an eye towards the inquiry-based learning which is forming the foundation of current mathematics curricular change.
Literacy Curriculum‚ Reading instruction includes phonics and literature, sight word recognition, and writing-to-read methodologies. Emergent readers will receive reading instruction utilizing a blend of decoding strategies that foster fluency and comprehension in all genres. As students become more capable readers, reading instruction will be delivered in multiage settings and focus on increasingly complex comprehension skills and word etiology. Flexible groupings throughout the grade levels will provide opportunities for adaptations and modifications to meet individual learning needs.‚Ä® the grades, literature selections, audiovisual media, and internet resources will enrich the t reading program. These enhancements, along with a well-designed plan for reading instruction, will result in a comprehensive literacy program. In addition, the literacy program supports social studies, science, and health thematic units. Students will hone their writing skills during extensive, authentic daily writing experiences. The literacy program will also provide opportunities for listening, viewing, and speaking skill development.
Mathematics Curriculum Because of the sequential nature of mathematics instruction, it will be taught in grade level groupings. The highly rigorous program that is selected will utilize manipulatives for concrete concept development, provide frequent authentic problem-solving activities in which students apply skills, and set forth a challenging approach to math instruction. A program in alignment with the best practices endorsed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) will be adopted.
Music, Physical Education, and Art Curricula Music, Physical Education, and art instruction will provide a purposeful balance of academic, physical, and cultural learning. Each of these areas of instruction will occur in multiage settings with modified curricula designed for multiage delivery. Physical Education will be taught daily, in accordance with the Daily Active Living goals set out by Alberta Education. Art .and Music instruction will occur two to three times per week, in multi=age groupings.
Citizenship Curricula ‚Social, emotional, and behavioral components of a school program are rarely included as part of an academic curriculum, yet Botha planners believe the creation of a positive and respectful school climate in which there is a minimum of distracting behaviors is crucial to increased student achievement and to the development of a responsible citizenry. To that end, care will be taken to ensure students engage in meaningful community service projects, character education instruction, and significant relationship-building experiences. Much of this instruction will take place in Tribes, our weekly meeting of all students in cross-grade social learning groups.
In Tribes, learning activities will be designed to allow opportunities to practice affective outcomes and students and staff will practice these behaviors each and every day. High behavior expectations, coupled with frequent and intentional interactions with elders from the Botha School area, will generate a ‚Äúkinder, gentler‚Äù school community. Furthermore, the Behavior Plan, developed with input from parents, students, and staff will serve as a learning tool to teach appropriate behaviors rather than to prescribe punitive consequences.
Global Sensitivity Activities ‚Through formal and informal activities, we at Botha School will encourage the development of a peace-filled, globally sensitive student body. These activities will include activities related to social justice issues, intentional local civic and public service projects, and cultural studies of nations of the world.
research summary adapted from Green Island Community Schools