At the core of Project Based Learning - and DDA's vision - is the philosophy to teach "an inch wide and a mile deep." Our students engage in meaningful learning through project work.
At our campuses in Bonita Springs and Clewiston, Florida, children are exposed to the learning process in a stimulating environment that fosters deep knowledge, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication - resulting in the ability to transfer knowledge and solve problems.
Character development and civic responsibility are the cornerstones of our school family. Equally important are the arts, athletics, and technological literacy.
Early Learning School
Even the youngest students are innately problem solvers. Our Early Learning School encompasses toddler and Pre-K programs that encourage children's abilities in a caring and supportive environment.
A hands-on approach allows our teachers to model and coach children through the learning process. We spark the imagination to create a love of learning, and we provide an environment that allows for "light bulb moments." Children are given meaningful learning experiences in a play-based environment.
Our toddlers are transitioning to a flexible group schedule. Large classrooms and limited enrollment ensure a calming environment. Toddlers also require sight and sound supervision.
The focal points of our learning environments are center spaces, provisioned for meaningful project work. Children are exposed to projects that build upon their background knowledge, from families to fur versus feathers.
Early literacy skills, mathematics, scientific concepts, and the developmental domains are central to our curriculum's design. Learning is delivered through the exploration of educational materials, sensory experiences, collaborative construction, oral language opportunities, read alouds, music, and finger plays.
Our outdoor environment was designed with the safety of our youngest learners in mind. It is rich with science opportunities, as children observe various species of birds, squirrels, butterflies, and investigate the natural environment. Opportunities for active physical play are provided daily.
Curriculum is taught through "The Discovery Method", our project- and scientific-based educational model; teaching the learning process, rather than solely skills and facts.
A solid foundation in traditional literacy instruction, coupled with innovative approaches, ensures a developmentally appropriate, yet globally competitive, program. Immersion in the fine arts aims at providing a balanced approach to the foundation of each child's education.
Students are immersed in quality literacy instruction. Picture books are central to each project study. Children engage in traditional read-alouds and digital stories. They act out and re-tell stories using flannel characters, puppets, and props. This builds a love for reading, concepts of print, understanding of story structure, and rich vocabulary knowledge. Children also acquire letter/sound recognition, phonological and phonemic awareness, and emergent writing skills. Reading comprehension and critical thinking skills are developed through picture book philosophy.
A rich oral language vocabulary is the primary predictor of future reading success. Therefore, our teachers consistently engage in conversation with our students. During center-based learning, teachers use a revised version of Blooms Taxonomy to ensure children exercise higher-level thinking skills.
Our approach to mathematics involves the manipulation of objects and the investigation of problems from multiple angles. Children learn to think mathematically, rather than develop route skills. Mathematical objectives include one-to-one correspondence, oral counting ability, number recognition, sorting skills, concepts of size and measurement, positional words, geometry, foundational algebra, estimation, graphing skills, and mathematical vocabulary.
Each project allows children to explore scientific approaches. Children formulate questions and hypotheses, investigate, explore, discover, record, and document. Our science curriculum includes basic physics concepts, living and non-living things, the natural world, dinosaurs and fossils, life cycles, the human body, the earth and sky, and scientific vocabulary.
Our approach to visual arts focuses on free design and unique creations. Artistic techniques are taught through an Artist of the Month program, which serves to inspire our budding artists. Music and simple instruments are central to classroom instruction. Children are exposed to a variety of musical genres and historical compositions.
The Ramps and Pathways program allows for the investigation of physics through our block centers. Lego Labs explore simple machines and basic concepts of engineering, through the use of Legos and 2D/3D modeling.
Primary and Intermediate School
Our Primary and Intermediate School educates children in grades K through 7.
Approaches to Learning
Project Based Based Learning is implemented in our primary and intermediate school. Interdisciplinary learning is based on an authentic question, in correlation with our community partners. This approach ensures that learning is deep and meaningful, with a focus on the application of knowledge. As an inquiry-based learning environment, all lessons begin with a question. Students ask further questions, hypothesize, conduct experiments, engage in research, document findings, revisit ideas and contribute to capstone work. Each child’s contributions are highlighted in an environment that shares their work through an exploration of communication skills and constructivism.
The Five Pillars of Reading Instruction: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary Development, Fluency and Comprehension
Fine Motor Skills, Speaking, Listening and Writing
Counting and Cardinality, Geometry, Measurement and Data, Number and Operations in Base Ten, Fractions, Algebraic Thinking, Reasoning and Problem Solving, Mathematical Vocabulary
Live, Physical, Earth, Space and Health Sciences; Scientific Process and Scientific Vocabulary
Civics, Government, Economics, Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship, Geography, Historical Periods of World Cultures
21st Century Skills
Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking
Our core academic programs are enhanced through traditional enrichment activities, including physical education, fine arts, and music. Focus is also placed on foreign language, cultural studies, engineering, philosophy for children, and technology.