Streams and Integrated Curriculum
A stream is a thematic unit, in which students are taught English Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, Science, and other subject areas or skills. Everything in the stream ties back to the theme, making an educational experience where content and skills are integrated around topics of interest to students.
An integrated curriculum takes into account that the adult world is not compartmentalized into subjects or content areas. When designing a stream, a team of teachers, representing expertise in a range of subject areas, considers the big idea and its real world applications. The team discusses what knowledge and skills are needed to fully explore the big idea and application activities are designed around those needs. Because students are preparing to simulate situations found in the adult world, they learn topics found in traditional subjects, but more in depth and with more relevance. The goal of the integrated curriculum is to prepare students for life-long success, not just for the next grade level.
Project-Based and Real World Curriculum
Because our curriculum is designed to teach students life-long learning skills, and not only content, we ask students to display their skills through an activity that parallels a civic or social activity in the adult world-- a simulation. Through this activity, students can most closely explore the big idea of the stream. Some examples of these relevant activities are: a mock United Nations assembly, building life-sized bridges for a fitness trail, simulating the Ellis Island experience, producing art for an art museum that students design, and creating a business, manufacturing a product, and marketing it.
Working cooperatively is not only a skill necessary for work in the adult world, it also offers a valuable exchange of ideas and learning. Students share their strengths, and often learn more from each other than purely from teacher lectures. Activities are carefully designed by the teachers to help students acquire leadership skills, the skills necessary to work cooperatively, as well as aid in student exploration of the topic of study. Evaluation rubrics are designed so that students are evaluated on their contributions. The emphasis is on the process, not the group's final product.
Higher Level Thinking Skills
Many elements of the integrated curriculum foster critical thinking. Project-based learning and real world applications provide the focus for classroom lessons. Problem solving is modeled by the teacher and students support each other as they work in groups. Student evaluation rubrics emphasize the process by which tasks are accomplished. Classroom activities are designed using Bloom's Taxonomy and Webb's Depth of Knowledge levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Students are asked to hypothesize, research, design, produce, and reflect as they put into practice knowledge and skills they have gained in the stream. Problem solving is also considered an important knowledge area on our stream reports.