STEAM Project-Based Learning
Our academic model is full immersion STEAM beginning in Kindergarten and continuing through 8th grade. DSA will offer 120 minutes of daily mathematics instruction via Singapore Math in grades K-5 and 180 minutes in grades 6-8.
Singapore Math provides an in-depth, rigorous, discovery approach to mathematics that is aligned to the common core standards. Hands-on science classes immerse students in the engineering design process, which is the crux of our approach to teaching: ASK, IMAGINE, PLAN, CREATE, IMPROVE. Our language arts curriculum by EL Education is expeditionary by design. For 120 minutes in elementary and 90 minutes in middle school daily, students will engage in rigorous modules that contain an anchor text associated with field experiences and problem-solving opportunities across the core subjects. Several of the literacy modules focus on scientific topics creating a natural cross-curricular learning experience.
Development of soft skills like character, collaboration, and community building are often overlooked in schools. As such, our school day will be extended by an additional 60 minutes to allow for community building and culture preservation. During this time they will focus on an in-house developed curriculum that explicitly teaches the DSA core values of excellence, perseverance, integrity, cultural identity, and community. The goal is to promote unity and a welcoming family environment amongst students and staff.
Equally important to our model is immersion in the arts, with
a particular emphasis on performing arts. Elementary students will rotate through voice, percussion, theater, dance and Media Technology (library) in grades K-5. In 6th grade, students will rotate through connections including physical
education, spoken word, music, dance, and theater.
In 7th and 8th grades, students will choose their electives from the previous list with an addition of foreign language and band. Each Wednesday is STEAM day at DSA and elementary specials classes will be taught through a STEM lens. For example, elementary students may learn and practice their multiplication facts by creating a song in music to connect to their math lesson or create rockets in their visual arts class to connect to their unit on space in science. In middle grades, students will be engaged in four separate, nine week projects on a STEM topic that utilizes their creativity in their connections classes. An example might be that students re-enact a scene from “Hidden Figures” to connect their learnings in mathematics and social studies regarding African American scientists.
We will utilize the EL Education curriculum for our Reading and Language Arts Curriculum. EL Education is a project-based approach to literacy that is broken up into 3-4 learning modules per year. The modules include topics with rigorous anchor texts explored through field studies and integrating literacy across the curriculum. It is directly aligned to the GA Standards of Excellence for ELA in all grades.
Math – Singapore Math
Our math curricula will be Singapore Math for grades K-8. The Singapore method fosters problem solving and critical thinking particularly well at the elementary level. The curriculum provides students the opportunity to grapple productively with the conceptual understanding of math followed by explicit teaching of procedural skills and application to real world situations.
As mentioned above, EL Education’s literacy curriculum lends itself to cross-curricular study, particularly in science. As such, DSA will supplement the existing EL Education literacy curriculum with in-house created materials that align to the GA Standards of Excellence. Once teachers are hired, they will be given specific guidance and training on the engineering design process of ASK, IMAGINE, PLAN, CREATE, IMPROVE. They will then design the additional modules necessary to master the Science standards and foster collaboration and problem solving through the engineering design process. In-house creation leads to teacher investment in curricular materials, and in science particularly, this is imperative. Students will have multiple opportunities to apply and demonstrate their scientific understanding of standards via labs investigating through research, conducting experiments, and presenting their findings in a grade level appropriate manner. This process will be more prescriptive at the primary level, but beginning in 3rd grade, students will have opportunities to create their own scientific study applying the engineering design process.
Our foundational science curriculum will be further supplemented by the daily STEM block. During the STEM block, students will learn about and discuss STEM related topics past and present. It is designed to be an extension of the science curriculum to deepen our students’ daily immersion in the sciences. DSA will partner with Big Thinkers Science to provide hands-on STEM instruction to all of our students throughout the week. Noreen “the Science Queen” Raines is the founder and CEO and comes with a wealth of experience and success providing exciting science lessons for students across metro Atlanta and the Southeast. Big Thinkers will provide the instructors, curriculum, and materials necessary for this elective block.
Social studies lessons will be developed in-house and aligned to the GA Standards of Excellence for Social Studies for grades K-8. The curriculum will be taught from an African American lens to address the cultural identity of the majority of our students using current and historical events. Research shows that teaching African American History as an integral component of American History leads to higher self-esteem and pride as well as provides all children with a more complete view of our state, country, and world.