Students at DDES are asked to grapple with complex problems and to think creatively. The curriculum at DDES is one that is standards-based and data driven, while also intentionally making kids think complexly. Students are provided opportunities to read, write, and create throughout the day, and are also provided instruction based on “The Workshop” model.
In the primary grades, students are pushed to develop awareness of the sounds of language and of the letters that represent these sounds though the composition of stories using both pictures and words. Students gain an understanding of what real authors do when writing and have opportunities to write for many different purposes. Students will gain an exposure to narrative writing, non-fiction (informational) writing, and opinion – based writing. While gaining exposure to these different genres of writing, students will also gain an exposure and an understanding of the six plus one traits of writing (ideas, organization, word choice, voice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation).
Additionally, students will also spend a portion of our writing time each day examining spelling patterns through word study. This provides students with an opportunity to become familiar with both common and uncommon spelling patterns in words.
In the primary grades, students are provided opportunities to become immersed in books (fiction and non-fiction), while increasing their proficiency with print. Students are given opportunities to: puzzle over the pictures and text in books independently, to hear a variety of books and text read aloud, and to discuss the meaning of stories and print on a daily basis. Students are also provided direct instruction in word study and basic phonics instruction. As students progress through the primary grades they will build their stamina for reading independently by expanding their repertoire of decoding strategies.
In the primary grades, students will become immersed in year – long learning expeditions that will integrate science, literacy, social studies and adventure. Learning expeditions in the primary grades, teach the standards through specific, in- depth case studies most often grounded in science and social studies. As much as possible the topics are local and relevant, and provide experiential potential. Learning expeditions in the primary grades are primarily to help children develop wonder and a deep love of our world, build schema, and develop their own theories. Primary expeditions integrate all of the subject areas, as students work as readers and authors, use math to explore their physical and social worlds, and make meaning through play, imagination and the arts.
In all grades of DDES, students us Engage NY Math Common Core Math curriculum. The New York State Education Department worked with various partners to develop curriculum materials for grades Pre-K to 12 in both Mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA), and these materials are available for download from EngageNY. The curriculum provides opportunities for hands on/minds on learning that encourages students to share and verbalize their thinking with teachers and peers. In grades 2-5, Math is taught by a specialist in 1/2 crews. While a portion of the crew is in Math instruction, the other portion of the crew is in Reader’s workshop, effectively reducing class size and focusing instruction.
Snapshot of Expeditions