Discovery Day Academy was designated as a P21 Exemplar School by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning in 2014, www.p21.org. We were recognized for the integration of the 4Cs into our curriculum and programming, in addition to other aspects of college and career readiness. The 4Cs of learning are critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. Our project based learning model integrates the 4Cs in numerous ways. Additionally, we use a variety of teaching strategies to ensure the 4Cs are implemented with intentionality. Below are some of the ways we incorporate these learning dispositions, to ensure deep and meaningful learning.
All project work at Discovery begins with a driving question, which places inquiry at the heart of all learning. Students ask questions to further extend their learning and make connections. We also integrate the philosophy for children program, which uses picture books to engage students in discussions surrounding various philosophical topics. Additionally, we integrate thinking routines to guide our thought processes; based off of the work at Harvard University’s Project Zero.
As a hands-on school, we observe a makers philosophy. Children are encouraged to express themselves and share their ideas using a number of mediums through design thinking. Creative expression lies at the heart of our school’s makerspace. Our students incorporate crafts, sewing, wood-working, 3D printing, simple circuits, technology, and recyclables into a work product to share with others. The arts are also a huge focus of our programming and curriculum, including fine arts, music, dance, and digital design.
Flexible classrooms allow for a significant amount of collaborative student work, through pair-share strategies. The large majority of classroom work is collaborative, with a small percentage being teacher directed or in a lecture-based format. Students have the opportunity to work in small and large groups regularly, learning how to contribute to the success of a group and be a successful team member. Rubrics guide group work, to ensure all children play an active role in the learning process.
Communities of inquiry also serve as the basis for classroom discussions, where students express their ideas and learn to respect the ideas of others. A strong social-emotional climate is a prerequisite to developing good communication skills. Student reflection is a large part of our daily routine, through student created blogs. As an aspect of each students capstone work during each project study, they produce a written work to express their learning on the subject they chose to study deeply. Our students learn how to express themselves in written format and orally, through traditional means and technology.