The Boys School Denver
The Boys School is a standards-based school that derives all curriculum from Common Core and Colorado Academic Standards. All teachers backwards plan the most important academic outcomes in their content, and from there, design units of study that reflect our model by incorporating movement-based pedagogy and project-based learning. Instructionally, all teachers post daily learning targets, literacy targets/mastery language, and habit targets that guide students to these outcomes over the course of the unit. Throughout each lesson, teachers utilize a variety of teaching and learning strategies to ensure that all students access the content and that teachers have sufficient opportunity to assess progress. Classrooms reflect the diverse learning needs and styles of our student body, and teachers employ differentiation strategies in texts, in tasks, and in products. As a standards-based school, students are assessed using a variety of formative and summative standards based measures including quizzes, tests, unit exams, essays, projects, Socratic Seminars, and conferences with teachers.
The Boys School Experience: Read More
The Boys School’s integrated and balanced instructional approach will provide a standards-based curriculum that is both skills-based and hands-on, in order to ensure each and every student meets our high expectations for success, well beyond achieving proficiency on state standards. Instruction at The Boys School starts first with our students. We understand that each student brings with him a different background and learning style, which is why we give our teachers the autonomy to mold their teaching to fit the needs of every single boy. While teachers are given much autonomy in how they teach, the state standards, including the Common Core State Standards and frameworks for instructional design, drive what is being taught, including the creation of lesson plans and the assessment of both student and teacher achievement. Purchased curricular materials will be used as a basis upon which teachers will build. Teachers will collaboratively plan units of study using the backward design guidelines described in Understanding by Design (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998). This strategy advises teachers to “begin with the question: What would we accept as evidence that students have attained the desired understandings and proficiencies – before proceeding to plan teaching and learning experiences.” There are three steps to this process: (1) identify desired results (2) aligning assignments to desired results (3) differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all learners.
As teachers implement their lesson plans, they will continuously be assessing their own efficacy and impact with individual students in the classroom utilizing specific data and analysis of sub-groups. Our instructional program will be driven by student data gathered by the teachers themselves in order to make informed decisions about assessment, curriculum, pedagogy, and student services. Teachers will continuously look at student work and questions in order to inform, structure, and refine their instructional practice. Much of this reflection will occur during weekly Professional Development.
At The Boys School, teachers use active pedagogy to help students become engaged, collaborative, and responsible learners. Additionally, kinesthetic-based activities assist students in making cognitive connections, finding patterns that inspire creativity, and viewing events from different perspectives. Students are also encouraged to experiment, to explore beyond the surface, and to develop empathy and compassion for others. Purposeful instructional assessment practices aid teachers in engaging, supporting, and holding students accountable. The Boys School teachers know that they need to structure for active and collaborative learning and pay careful attention to grouping students, scaffolding for responsible group work, using group work to socially construct understandings, and being very clear about individual accountability. Instructional practices such as jigsaws, role-plays, debates, Socratic Seminars, interactive word walls, and reading and writing workshops are all good examples of active pedagogy. To make these practices successful, teachers front-load needed vocabulary and provide sentence stems to ensure that all students can find a way to express themselves. In addition, The Boys School teachers differentiate support by providing text at varying levels of difficulty (including in students’ home language) and providing non-verbal text supports such as photographs, maps, artifacts, timelines, and real-time events.
Furthermore, movement is actively and intentionally incorporated into each and every lesson. Whether it’s purposefully infused into the lesson to help the brain remember better, or whether it’s simply a brain break, movement is used to keep students engaged in their learning. “Regularly-scheduled movement breaks throughout the day and movement used within and between lessons results in better-behaved, more engaged students who can more easily focus on and retain what they are supposed to be learning” (The Creativity Post).
Boys benefit from movement-infused education. As stated on the NASSP website, “Males are mesmerized by movement, and when adolescent testosterone is thrown into the mix, they feel they have to move. Yet boys and girls are asked to sit still most of the school day. As Marilee Sprenger points out in her book Brain-Based Teaching in the Digital Age (2010, p. 21-22), physical movement promotes learning for all students in the following ways:
- Improves attention and motivation by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine
- Creates positive moods, lowers anxiety, raises self-esteem
- Causes stem cells in brain to divide, making new brain cells
- Decreases impulsivity
- Adds new cells to the hippocampus (the memory control area)
- Adds to the “chemical soup” that promotes growth and survival of neurons.
Teachers are trained to add movement to learning through activities such as: creative dramatics; physical review games; pantomimes of historical events; film making; demonstrations; projects that produce something concrete; puppet shows; having students physically model scientific events, such as two neurons sharing information; video broadcasts and game shows, singing, dancing, graphics and art renditions of work, how-to demos, etc. Give students opportunities to think creatively while getting up and involved.”
Most importantly, even more so than their academic achievement and success, our goal is to have our young men graduate from The Boys School with the tools to continue to grow and excel as holistic human beings. We believe that it is of the utmost importance that we prepare our young men to be good people. When our boys leave The Boys School, they will have a solid foundation and understanding of who they truly are and what their place is within their community. As a result, these young men will be able to contribute significantly to the world in which they live because they are comfortable with who they are. As Frederick Buechner states, “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Our young men will, without a doubt, understand what their deep gladness is, and this is the greatest outcome our school could possibly have.”