Educational Excellence, Community, Diversity

Glossary of Best Practices

TEACHER-CREATED CURRICULUM: Teachers at City have the freedom to create their own curriculum and classroom materials and to design their own projects. While adhering to the state standards, teachers use a variety of sources in preparing curricula material and syllabi. Many, if not most, great teachers crave a professional work environment where they are respected and given this freedom.

PLANNING TIME: The teachers at City utilize daily common planning time for collaboration and reflection. At least one hour a day, teachers will look at assessments, analyze data, and develop individual lesson plans for students.

PROJECT-BASED LEARNING: Project-based learning is an innovative approach to engaging students in the learning process. It involves students in planning, problem-solving, decision-making, and investigation. Students work autonomously as well as cooperatively over extended periods of time; they reflect on their work, receive feedback, and incorporate the feedback; they are guided by teachers’ facilitation, not direction, to develop skills; their final product represents the skills and knowledge they gained, which fulfills explicit educational goals.

CONSTRUCTIVISM: Constructivism is a creative and dynamic curriculum model supported by 60 years of research. Unlike traditional schooling where children memorize, learn by rote, and listen passively, children "construct" knowledge and learn actively. Teachers ask questions and create an environment where children are inquisitive and collaborative; each child has an individualized lesson plan. The top graduate schools of education in America (UCLA, Stanford, etc.) train teachers in a constructivist approach to learning. Parents, children, and teachers report fewer behavior problems and more satisfaction in these environments. So the question arises, why doesn’t every classroom work this way? Budgets are the primary reason. Teachers need common planning time to effectively teach individualized lesson plans and create their own curriculum. With state budget cutbacks, often the first classes to go are art and music- the classes that relieve teachers to give them time to plan. Textbooks and "teacher guides" replaced teacher-created lessons - the goal being to "teacher-proof" schools. A prescribed curriculum deprives teachers of the opportunity to be creative, and they can be boring for students. Textbooks are, ironically, expensive.