Valdez offers a viable ECE-5 standards-based academic program that will be achieved with integrity and commitment to the mission, vision, and belief statements. Our academic program will align around high standards for all students, our dual-language model, and Montessori in the ECE and Kindergarten.
In line with our dual-language program, there will be a strong focus on oral language development as a precursor to text-based literacy. All students will begin receiving literacy instruction in their first language. Literacy instruction in second language will start immediately for transferable skills and as soon as students are ready for non-transferable skills. The daily 1st-5th literacy block will consist of a reading workshop, writing workshop, and a skills block. Each block will utilize a workshop format composed of whole-group instruction through mini-lessons; small-group guided reading practice; independent work with student choice; and peer collaboration. The five components of literacy (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency) will be integrated throughout instruction with individual instruction as needed. The focus will be on communicating or gaining meaning in tasks that are authentic, and steeped in real reading and writing. Skills that are needed to do that better, such as phonics or grammar, will be taught explicitly and applied to the authentic work. Each portion of the literacy block will contain rituals and routines, artifacts, and best practice strategies. At the end of each unit, opportunities to celebrate and share student products will occur.
Mathematics instruction will be rigorous and balanced and based on national math standards. The Everyday Mathematics curriculum emphasizes conceptual understanding, builds mastery of basic skills, and employs application of processes. We differentiate math with rich, hands-on, problem-solving approaches.
Oral Language Development
Oral language is and will become more integrated into all content areas every day. Research clearly shows that receptivity to and expression of oral language occurs in the first stages of language acquisition. Oral language support and expression is therefore an essential component in a dual-language model. We scaffold and expect students to learn oral language skills in the social realm as well as the academic realm of speech and vocabulary. Speaking about academic content allows processing of the learning and deepens students’ understanding and ownership of the content. Teachers strategically create a learning community so that all students feel supported in their first and second language. Teachers model and provide multiple opportunities for students to talk about content. Students enjoy the opportunity to learn through talking and take responsibility to talk about the objective using the articulated communication skills.
Planning and teaching thematic units is central to our dual-language model. Themes originate from the Science and Social Studies curricular topics and overlay with our literacy units and genres. Themes will be authentic and engaging and include essential understandings and questions. Teachers plan thematic units that last 6-8 weeks and that are designed to engage and involve students in their first and second languages. Themes are integrated into Literacy and Math when appropriate.
Arts and Physical Education
All K-5 Valdez students will participate in P.E., Dance, Visual Art, and Music on a rotating daily basis. All of the specials will be standards-based and offer hands-on opportunities for students to extend their core content knowledge. Valdez maintains a staffed library/computer lab so that students have access to state of the art technology and media resources.
Challenging Higher Learners
Valdez is dedicated to maximizing the academic and social potential of all students so they may become self-confident, well-rounded, responsible and productive learners. Believing that each and every individual has merit, Valdez recognizes that certain learners within the school population have unique academic abilities, needs and potential. As a result, we differentiate instruction and curricula in response to individual strengths, styles, and interests.
There are many research-based models for serving gifted students. Valdez has chosen to implement a model that aligns with our dual-language program. Differentiation at Valdez takes place within the classroom. Students are provided with opportunities to participate in tiered lessons, compacted curriculum, flexible groupings and creative thinking strategies.
Based on our assessments and a body of evidence for each child, we provide our staff targeted development on best practices and instructional strategies. Depending on our instructional objectives, we group students in similar-ability cluster groups at times and in different-ability flexible groups at times.
Unified Improvement Plan (UIP)
The UIP is the state-mandated school plan which tracks our progress.