Definitions and the Essential Background Information
When choosing an educational environment for their children, most people prefer public schools, typically because the subjects on the curriculum are diverse and of charge (Wu, Tu, Le, & Reynolds, 2012). However, in case a learner has a natural propensity toward a specific subject suggests that a magnet school should be considered as an option. A magnet school is typically defined as a public school with a heavy emphasis on a specific area or discipline (Spiers, 2016).
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As a result, a learner acquires the skills that will, later on, serve as the foundation for developing professionalism in the chosen area. Despite the fact that studying in the magnet school under analysis implies a rather heavy emphasis on research, it is desirable to make sure that the learners could have an opportunity to enjoy a more balanced program. Furthermore, given the fact that a lot of learners come from an EFL background, it is desirable to shape the curriculum so that the process of acquiring the necessary English language skills could occur at a faster rate.
School Population and Neighborhood Environment: Description
The school is located in a fairly diverse neighborhood. As stressed above, a range of students (approximately 48%) are ESL (79% Asian, 24% Hispanic, 7% other), and 26% are Black, which means that the program must be adjusted to their language- and culture-specific needs. The male and female learners make 67% and 43% correspondingly. In other words, the emphasis must be placed on not only teaching the target subject to them in a universal manner but also encourage active language studies among them.
Furthermore, the fact that the neighborhood is represented by a very close community must be addressed. Because of the consistent communication process between the members of the neighborhood, one may consider encouraging parents to participate in their children’s academic progress. By inviting parents to assist their children in learning, one will be able to create the environment in which students will be eager to acquire new knowledge and skills since they will have a strong support system.
The academic levels of the students are rather high. The learners are able to read and write in English and are aware of the basic mathematical operations (i.e., addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication). Furthermore, despite minor cultural issues and the fear of failing to fit in, the learners are generally positive about the future academic experience. Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind that some of the students may face language issues when carrying out the tasks associated with the active use of vocabulary and an in-depth understanding of the language. Therefore, it is crucial that the teacher should provide learners with consistent support and scaffold them through the process of acquiring relevant skills and knowledge.
The demographics of the school represent the one of the community in a rather accurate manner. The school is located in Flushing, NY, which can be defined by outstandingly high diversity rates. According to the official statistics, the White population of the area makes approximately 11%, the Hispanic one amounts to 14%, the Black community is 3.7% of the total population, the Asian community embraces 67.3% of the community, and the Mixed and Other types of race and ethnicity amount to 1.9% and 1.8% accordingly (Race and ethnicity in Flushing, New York, NY, 2015).
Goals of the Curriculum and Their Rationale
The promotion of active acquisition of the relevant skills by the students and the creation of the platform for their further self-assisted learning can be viewed as the primary goal of the curriculum. Therefore, the development of academic skills, particularly, the ability to conduct research, as well as the promotion of self-directed lifelong learning among students, can be viewed as the essential goal of the curriculum. The rationale for the identified goals is that the learners must become independent in the process of knowledge and skills acquisition so that they could engage in the process of self-directed learning successfully. It is important that the students should become experts in their chosen area. The identified goal implies that the students should navigate their professional growth independently, for which the suggested curriculum allows. Among other objectives of the curriculum, the following ones need to be mentioned:
Table 1. Goals and Rationales.
|Increasing engagement rates among students||Motivated learners acquire new knowledge and skills more successfully (Jokikokko & Karikoski, 2016);|
|Raising the overall literacy level among learners||A rapid increase in literacy rates will serve as the foundation for the further acquisition of the relevant knowledge;|
|Promoting parental support in children’s learning process among the community members||Once students have the support of their family members, they are likely to become more motivated and engaged in the learning process (Jokikokko & Karikoski, 2016).|
|Encouraging students to be proactive||Active participation in class activities will allow learners to gain their academic voice and acquire analytical skills that will serve as the basis for their further professional development.|
|Promoting cultural diversity and meeting the needs of diverse learners||A successful communication process requires the ability to adjust to the cultural specifics of the conversation participants and avoiding culture clashes.|
Meeting New School Goals: An Improved Curriculum and Its Theoretical Foundation
In order to meet the goals set above, one will have to shape the curriculum of the school in question to a considerable degree. When considering the specifics of the curriculum for learners, one must focus on expanding the activities associated with independent projects. Although it is crucial that the connection between the teacher and the learners should remain consisted and that the feedback process should remain reciprocal, the teacher will have to focus on providing learners with a greater amount of independence.
Table 1. Curriculum: Grade 1, Magnet School, Semesters 1-2.
|Semester 1||Semester 2|
|Language|| || || || |
|Math|| || || || |
|Science|| || || || |
|Social Studies|| || || || |
|Health||Description of essential activities and rules for maintaining a healthy lifestyle|
|Arts||Drawing, creating clay figures, and other tasks will be used to develop artistic skills in students|
|Music||The students will listen to classical pieces and learn to play the recorder.|
As the curriculum provided above shows, the students will engage in the traditional activities, yet they will also be provided with an opportunity to develop analytical skills. As a result, they will be able to gain independence in their learning process fast. Furthermore, they will be geared toward independence in learning,
When considering the tools that can be used to encourage the process of independent knowledge acquisition, one should consider scaffolding. A fairly common practice in the contemporary educational environment, it serves its purpose of encouraging learners to acquire information and skills, at the same time increasing their motivation levels, quite well (Jokikokko & Karikoski, 2016). Therefore, scaffolding should become the foundation of the teaching strategy for the curriculum.
Putting more stress on the process of language learning will also help ESL students adapt toward the classroom environment and acquire the relevant skills faster. Because of the language barrier, the students may face significant obstacles in developing the essential skills and understanding the course material. Thus, it will be crucial to focus on assisting learners to acquire the relevant skills that will help them engage in research at a comparatively early stage of their academic development.
Assessment Types That Match the Goals and the Theoretical Foundation
To make sure that ESL learners and students from all backgrounds receive the necessary support and acquire skills and knowledge at the required rate, one will have to focus on formative assessments as a crucial part of the academic process. The students will have to take a short quiz at the beginning and at the end of every lesson so that their knowledge of the previous and the current topic could be assessed and that the gaps in their knowledge could be identified. Each end-of-the-lesson quiz will include a matching game that the learners will have to complete. The quiz that will test the students’ understanding of the previous topic and will be conducted at the beginning of the lesson will require doing basic exercises (e.g., solving a math problem).
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It is important that the teacher should provide detailed explanations of the tasks. Seeing that most of the students are still at the earliest stage of reading and writing skills development, it would be unreasonable to include expanded instructions into the task descriptions. Therefore, the teacher will have to use the available scaffolding tools as the means of guiding learners through the tasks and assisting them in carrying out the tasks.
The test results will be assessed by the teacher. However, per assessment should also be practiced as the means of introducing learners to the concept of self-evaluation and the identification of their strengths and weaknesses as learners. Thus, the teacher will promote the principles of self-directed learning among the target audience. It is expected that, by offering learners more independence in their academic process, the teachers will encourage them to develop the skills that will, later on, help them acquire analytical skills and carry out research-related activities on their own. Although one might argue that first-graders are too young to be introduced to the concept of academic research, promoting the acquisition of the analytical skills that will serve as the foil for their further academic progress is crucial at the identified stage.
Jokikokko, K., & Karikoski, H. (2016). Exploring the narrative of a Finnish early childhood education teacher on her professional intercultural learning. Journal of Early Childhood Education Research, 5(1), 92-114.
Race and ethnicity in Flushing, New York, NY. (2015). Web.
Spiers, H. A. (2016). Going digital, going global: Inquiry for deeper learning. Web.
Wu, R., Tu, Y., Le, Q., & Reynolds, B. (2012). An Action Research Case Study on Students’ Diversity in the Classroom: Focus on Students’ Diverse Learning Progress. International Journal of Innovative Interdisciplinary Research, 1(2), 142-150.