Sigsbee Charter School offers a differentiated educational program, designed to meet the unique needs of each student . At Sigsbee, rather than simply assessing at the end of an instructional period, assessments are embedded into a teacher’s practice and are used to drive daily instruction. Instruction and assessment occurs in various groupings: individually, in small group, and as a whole class. Teachers use a variety of materials and measures, and continually assess, to find out what their students already know, determine how and what they are learning, and establish what a student is ready to learn next.
Language Arts instruction is rooted in Balanced Literacy and is especially driven by a child’s readiness. Teachers utilize several reading assessments, including DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment), FAIR (Florida Assessment In Reading),running records, and classroom observations, to determine a child’s reading level, design appropriate guided reading instruction, and monitor progress. Additionally, a developmental word study assessment is used to establish appropriate spelling words and formative writing assessments are given several times throughout the school year to monitor writing progress over time. SCS has transitioned to the Common Core State Standards.
Balanced Literacy is implemented through the Reading and Writing Workshop Model. The teacher begins by modeling the reading/writing strategy that is the focus of the workshop. Assessment-based planning is at the core of this model. The balanced literacy approach is characterized by explicit skill instruction and the use of authentic texts. Students are engaged in practicing the focal strategy in small groups or independently as the teacher monitors progress. Students read leveled texts independently or write independently for an extended period of time as the teacher circulates amongst them to observe record observations and confer. At the culmination of the workshop session, selected students share their strategies and work with the class. The overall purpose of balanced literacy instruction is to provide students with a differentiated instructional program, which will support the reading and writing skill development of each individual.
Key Components of the Reading and Writing Workshop are:
Teacher modeling or showing kids what a good reader does when reading a text, thinking aloud about the mental processes used to construct meaning while reading a book aloud to the class.
Guided practice gradually gives the students more responsibility with the teacher stepping in to help as needed. Students practice a comprehension strategy during discussion in a large group or in smaller groups with peers.
Independent practice where children begin to work alone while reading books by themselves, conferencing individually or in small groups with the teacher to make sure they are using a comprehension strategy correctly.
Application of the strategy is achieved when the students can correctly apply comprehension strategies to different kinds of texts and are no longer just practicing but are making connections between and can demonstrate understanding through writing or discussion.
The Standards for Mathematical Practice form the foundation for the mathematics program at SCS. The specific standards that SCS emphasizes support K–8 students as they:
1. Persevere in solving application, routine, and non-routine problems
2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively
3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
4. Attend to precision of their mathematics and associated vocabulary
5. Look for and reason with generalizations
Our students engage in problem-solving tasks that involve multiple representations (diagrams, physical materials, tables, graphs, and symbols) that support robust development of concepts and skills. Unique features of the SCS mathematics program is the use of journal writing prompts, hands-on explorations, and conceptual tasks. Students expect to work in collaborative and cooperative groups as they solve significant mathematical problems. Multiple assessment approaches are used so that students have diverse ways of demonstrating their understand.
The mathematics program at SCS is a significant component of Project DELTA (Disseminating Effective Learning and Teaching Activities), sponsored by the USDOE Florida Charter School's Program. Sigsbee received this dissemination sub-grant for K-5 Instructional Best Practices in 2014.
The Florida Keys are full of natural wonders, and are recognized for environmental and marine treasures. Sigsbee Charter School is located on a Navy base, with ready access to many of these resources. The curriculum at Sigsbee Charter School capitalizes on the Keys’ riches to help our students to develop an appreciation of their environment and to assume their responsibility for conservation and preservation. The vision for Sigsbee Charter School includes environmental and marine science as the primary focus for integration of the curriculum. Hands-on experiments will help students understand cause-and-effect relationships and provide real world applications of science. Ready access to aquatic waters will enrich and extend learning in all subject areas.
Sigsbee Charter School collaborates with local marine science and environmental resources to initiate partnerships and programs that define extraordinary opportunities for students.
Students will also demonstrate mastery of the technology skills that support learning, personal productivity, decision-making and daily life. Students at Sigsbee Charter School will be equipped with the skills and dispositions to compete globally in a rapidly advancing technological age. Consistent with the National Science Teachers Association and National Educational Technology Standards, the school supports science & technology instruction as an essential part of daily curriculum so that students are able to develop problem-solving skills that are necessary for participation in the rapidly advancing scientific and digital world.
Dedicated science and technology teachers implement hands-on activities that follow state standards for content. Methodologies accommodate a wide variety of learning styles in a state-of-the-art learning facility equipped with appropriate materials, resources and technology. An innovative school-wide spiraling curriculum based on Understanding by Design will drive instruction through major units based on the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.
In the spirit of Socrates’ statement, “Wisdom begins in wonder,” children at Sigsbee Charter School will begin the school year by learning how to investigate their own musings. Beginning in the first days of school, children will learn inquiry is a cyclical process; it begins with questions and, after observing, hypothesizing, testing, and sharing knowledge gained, it continues with new questions to explore.
The school year at SCS will launch with inquiry projects centered on the tools and thinking of a scientist, designed to teach the process of science. The inquiry projects are correlated with the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS) and organized, in a spiraling complexity, with the Understanding by Design (UBD) Framework. For example, kindergarteners will learn “How can I use my five senses to learn about the world?” and “How can I share what I’ve learned?” while fifth graders will explore, “What is the difference between an experiment and other types of scientific investigation?” “How can I design an experiment?” “Why is it important to control variables?” “What inquiry skills will I use?” and “What science tools will I use?”
Throughout the school year, students will apply their newly expanded inquiry skills as they participate in three major units of study. Similar to the inquiry unit, the units of study are correlated to the NGSSS and organized, in a spiraling fashion, by the UBD framework, an effective organization tool focused on teaching for understanding.
The first unit of study at SCS, The Study of the Universe, involves the exploration of matter, energy, and the solar system. This study will culminate in an Astronomy Night at the school. Next, students investigate the features of our planet, including the work of air, land, and water, in The Study of Earth. Culminating service-oriented projects will result in Sigsbee Day at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. The final unit, the Study of the Sea, will cover all of the life science standards through a marine science lens. At the culmination of the school year, students will synthesize their scientific knowledge by participating in a school-wide Kids Inquiry Conference. The Sigsbee Kids Inquiry Conference is an event where, similar to adult scientists, students will share the results of their own scientific explorations, learn from the investigations of others, and pose new questions to be studied. The Kids Inquiry Conference will close the circle of investigation, with students prepared to launch the next exploratory cycle of inquiry the following school year.
In the spring, Sigsbee students participate in standardized testing, which measures criterion-referenced achievement. Third through eighth graders partake in Florida’s FCAT and FSA examinations. Middle school students also complete the End-Of-Course exams for several subjects (see middle school webpage). SCS follows all state assessment mandates including the mandatory retention of third grade students based on the third grade FSA score.
Parent/teacher conferences are formally held twice a year to inform and discuss students’ progress. Parents are given information about their child's progress using the SCS Reading and Writing Continuums. Report cards are sent home at the semester and the end of year. Parents/guardians are welcome to request additional conferences to discuss student's achievement.