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At our school, we come together to explore, question and create in order to do better work and be better. Our STEM Academy opened in the Fall of 2013 and serves many low-income and at-risk students in grades K-5. We are a magnet school so we receive a lot of families who value STEM and desire an emphasis on math and science for their children. By providing the students with high interest, hands-on STEM experiences, we hope to harness their natural curiosity and creativity to foster a passion for learning and awareness of STEM fields that will lead to pursuing careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. We also hope that by empowering our students with these rich educational opportunities, they will have the tools they need to positively contribute to our community as adults. Our mission is to develop life-long learners working together as innovative problem solvers in the global community. We accomplish our mission by facilitating instruction that is real-world and focused on the application of acquired knowledge and skills. We do this through employing: Project-Based Learning, Inquiry Learning, and Integrated instruction.
As students return to school in the fall, we want them to build their literacy and citizenship skills as they engage in a study of schools around the world. Students begin the school year by participating in a series of focused read-alouds to explore the guiding question, “What is school, and why are schools important?” The students will build on this understanding by engaging in close read-alouds of the text Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools around the World by Susan Hughes. Through this text, students learn about schools around the world and the challenges some communities face in sending their students to school and how they solve these challenges. To support their understanding of this text, students take notes on and write in response to their reading. Additionally, students will revisit sections from Off to Class as they engage in whole class research to learn about the similarities and differences between their own school and three schools from the text. Students extend their research in small groups by focusing on one school in particular and producing an informational book. Throughout the unit, students participate in collaborative conversations with their peers to process and extend their understandings of the similarities and differences between their own school and the school they have researched.