Philosophy & Procedure
Our curriculum is designed entirely by Beyond Academics and meets the qualifications of the Unified School District as well as the Common Core. We teach a journalistic style of writing that is semi-formal and is required at school and in college applications. Thinking takes time and contemplation. Your child may come home one day with only five new sentences, but those sentences were composed after time spent drilling, analyzing, and revising in order to reveal the strongest work.
Progress is regularly assessed through quizzes and tests as well as one major exam each year. Progress reports are given twice a year. We do not use letter grades here; instead, a child’s standing is communicated via comments on student work. Narrative feedback helps us convey the principle that learning flourishes when discussed rather than just measured and judged. By doing away with the letter grade, we hope instead to foster communication about outcomes and expectations.
Some of the skills we work to sharpen are:
Vocabulary that grows in sophistication and is applied in every lesson, drill, homework assignment, and essay
Progressively refined sentence structures
Different types of compositions
Research skills to avoid plagiarism (including note-taking, quoting, and citing properly)
A curious, open perspective on learning (which we reinforce through “games” that engage students in motivating activities that apply the skills being taught)
Writing in parts, so that one component is studied in depth at a time and work benefits from planning and organization
Because we are a school and not a tutoring center, we are able to work with students on the foundation of their writing and reading skills. A student may claim that s/he “already knows” something, but this usually does not translate to mastery. This is why we have chosen to cover some of the same material every year, but always at a more sophisticated level and applied to more sophisticated issues. We work hard to encourage academic growth but understand that learning to write, just like learning to play the piano, is a highly individual process. Some students are naturals, while others may have to apply themselves for years in order to gain fluency. This is why we always encourage students to apply the skills learned here at their regular schools, and this is also why we encourage students, teachers, and parents to work together—students show the most growth when they can see that everyone around them is just as invested as they are.