The goal of IDEA Academy schools is to prepare students for success in our rigorous College Prep environment which begins in 6th grade. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, IDEA Public Schools utilizes a unique elementary academic model made up of two components: the core curriculum and the hybrid-learning component that provides individualized learning for all students.
Pre-K at IDEA
At IDEA Public Schools, the road to college starts in Pre-K.
In order for our scholars to excel in advanced placement classes at the college preparatory level, they have to be fundamentally sound readers, writers, and mathematicians. From the first day students set foot on an IDEA Public Schools campus in our half-day Pre-K program, we instill in them the expectation that they will go to college. This expectation is woven in the fabric of everything we say and do. Our individualized, small group, and activity-based Pre-K program ensures our students possess the tools to grow each year in school and are prepared to start kindergarten strong!
We focus on building reading, language, and math proficiency step-by-step in our Pre-K curriculum. IDEA’s literacy component is fun and engaging, and a central focus of the Pre-K program, serving as the foundation to all content. IDEA believes that great readers are great learners. If students can’t read, they certainly can’t solve a math word problem or grasp science concepts. That’s why IDEA’s high-quality teachers make sure students learn the sound each letter makes through game-and-activity-orientated lessons.
IDEA’s Pre-K scholars are a perfect example of the connection between literacy and learning. In fact, ninety-four percent of IDEA’s youngest learners finished the year completing kindergarten work!
Beyond fundamental instruction in reading, language, and math, IDEA’s Pre-K curriculum also includes science lessons, field trips, and activities that promote the development of problem-solving and social skills. IDEA’s half-day program lends itself to small, intimate learning groups with no more than 10 students per group. This allows teachers to devote plenty of personalized attention to each student, and also provide opportunities for re-teaching when needed.
At four years old, students are just learning how to be a student— asking questions, absorbing instruction, and cooperating with others. Our half-day program gradually increases the needed length of attention-span, so that, little-by-little, your child develops the tools to engage with the material they’re exposed to, apply the knowledge they’ve acquired, and learn to work independently as they become ready for a full day of instruction as a Kindergartener. IDEA Pre-K students will also participate in science lessons, field trips, and activities that promote the development of problem-solving and social skills. By the end of the Pre-K year, students are on level readers, writers, and mathematicians. They’re ahead of the game and ready for kindergarten with a developed culture of learning.
Direct Instruction (DI) is the foundational program of IDEA’s core curriculum. DI is a model that emphasizes carefully planned lessons focused on learning in small increments. DI teachers use clear instruction and always teach to mastery. This means that teachers do not move on in the lesson until students have grasped the content they need to know. Groups are organized by level, so that every student can learn at their own pace. The goal is for each student to be on-level across all subjects. No student is left behind. The core subjects of Direct Instruction are reading, language, and math. Students are expected to score 90% or higher on daily and weekly assessments. Skills are taught in a way that enables students to build upon previous learning. Nearly every lesson incorporates and reviews previously taught skills so that children continue to build upon and incorporate key concepts they’ve already learned.
Students advance through the program only after they have demonstrated mastery of each concept. Students who show exceptional progress can progress faster through lessons if they show continued mastery. Students are also tested individually every five to ten lessons, and their progress is effectively tracked by the teacher.
Students Take Charge of Their Learning
In grades 3-5, academy students graduate from the DI program as on-level readers, writers, and mathematicians. In these grades, students are provided more time and opportunity for creative growth, taking on a wide variety of individual and collaborative assignments—book reports, science projects, research papers, writing portfolios, creating their own interactive math games, and more. During these grades, teachers place more responsibility on students as they rigorously prepare for excellence on all STAAR exams.
In our upper Academy grades, students are the captains of the classroom. Teachers hold students responsible for knowing where they stand in preparation for mastery exams via trackers. Students keep track of each skill they are responsible for knowing by the end of the year in their binders. When students demonstrate mastery of a concept, they meet with the teacher to document this. For example, if a student gets a hundred percent on a metaphor versus simile center game, they can place one sticker on the row, “Figurative Language: Student Distinguishes Simile from Metaphor,” with permission from their teacher.
A student-centered classroom builds leaders who take initiative for themselves. Walk into an IDEA Academy classroom and you will see students in action, grappling with concepts, and actively participating in a lesson while the teacher facilitates and pushes each student’s thinking. Students learn best when they learn-by-doing, and can leverage opportunities to practice and repeat their skills. That’s our philosophy here at IDEA.
In addition to classroom instruction, our students participate in blended learning activities via our iLearning Hotspot and AR Zones. These special programs provide supplemental learning opportunities in literacy and mathematics for all academy students.
· The iLearning Hotspot, where students complete math software—DreamBox and Reasoning Mind—that understand where your child is and continue to challenge them based on their level. We know students learn best when they’re having fun, so these software programs work like an educational videogame, and students love it!
· Our Accelerated Reader (AR) Zones are spaces on each campus that promote a culture of reading to help our students unlock the world of opportunity and equip themselves for a lifetime of learning and enjoyment. Using the AR computer program, teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. The software allows children to choose books at their reading level, test on them when finished, and then pace themselves in pursuit of their end-of-year reading goal.