All students are empowered to fulfill their responsibilities and dreams.
Students learn how to learn
With a clear understanding of students – who they are, what they are interested in, what motivates them – teachers create conditions to unleash students’ full potential.
Teachers at Spacious Skies are interested in developing children’s emotional, physical, social, and intellectual capacities.
Work that matters
We aspire to create meaningful lessons for students. Significance comes in the form of what is important to the student, teacher, school, and larger community.
21st Century skills
Within a broad-based, integrated curriculum, students learn critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity skills.
The curriculum at Spacious Skies has four specific elements. We believe these four curricular components provide students with the solid foundation for academic success in school and beyond.
1. Concepts/Enduring Understandings
Spacious Skies employs a concept-based curriculum that enables deep understanding of the relationships among abstract ideas. These are not “google-able” facts that are easily accessed, but rather ideas that require investigation and lengthy study that lead to deep understanding and interdisciplinary connections. Projects and integrated units at Spacious Skies are organized around a concept which is “an organizing idea; a mental construct that is timeless, represented by one or two words, universal, [and to a degree] abstract.” For example, patterns, conflict, and power are all concepts that lend themselves to lengthy study across many content areas including math, science, history, art, music, and literature.
2. Thinking Skills/Processes
Spacious Skies develops students who know how to learn. To that end, Spacious Skies uses a comprehensive set of thinking objectives that enhance children’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills. For example, we focus on the development of skillful thinking including how to assess the reasonableness of ideas, how to skillfully make decisions, self-regulation, analyzing, comparing and contrasting, and part/whole thinking.
Teachers infuse thinking skills such as analyzing, comparing and contrasting, and part/whole thinking into lessons.
3. Dispositions (Habits of Mind)
The third element of the curriculum focuses on teaching students dispositions that support continuous learning. At Spacious Skies, we teach intellectual dispositions through the Habits of Mind based on the research of Costa and Kallick. The Habits of Mind are characteristics displayed by intelligent people when they are confronted with problems.
4. Facts & Foundational Skills
The last element of our curriculum is “facts and foundational skills.” We recognize the importance of teaching students information that is relevant and important to deeper learning. Teachers use direct instruction to impart basic facts about concepts as a way to prepare for deeper learning.
English/Language Arts (ELA)
Teachers integrate reading, writing, speaking, and listening in their lessons to ensure an authentic approach to literacy learning. In addition, all teachers maintain a designated block of time to teach the language arts. The literacy block uses a combination of workshop format, direct instruction, and small group instruction in flexible grouping combinations to meet the Colorado Academic Standards. Students read real literature and write for real purposes throughout the day as ELA is integrated into projects, units, and other content areas.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
In projects, units, and in the Thinkering Lab students engage in integrated STEM lessons that promote inquiry, real-world problem solving, and that connect them with people working in real STEM-related fields. STEM lessons are guided by the engineering design process, which involves students in the following tasks: defining a problem; conducting background research; developing multiple ideas for solutions; developing and creating a prototype; and testing, evaluating, and redesigning. Science concepts are covered in projects and units ensuring an important and generative curriculum in which students develop curiosity, logic, creativity, skepticism, and objectivity in their work.
In addition to the integrated treatment of all STEM subjects, teachers at SSCS have a designated block of time for math instruction. Children’s understanding of mathematics concepts move from the concrete to the abstract. Using real-world materials expressly designed to enhance student learning of math concepts, students at Spacious Skies are immersed in hands-on / minds-on lessons. To support curriculum development and lesson planning, teachers use Mathematics Their Way and Marilyn Burns resources.
Taken from Ken Robinson’s work, we offer two complimentary ways to engage children in the arts:
- Making – students produce their own work that enhances the development of students’ creative voice and technical skills.
- Appraising – involves understanding and appreciating others’ works that include contextual knowledge (how, when, and why the art was created) and critical judgment of the art.
With a partnership with Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR), students at Spacious Skies are connected to artists and engage in art of all genres. Art is integrated into lessons, projects, and units. Music is a designated specials class, however, classroom teachers integrate music into projects and units.
To accomplish our educational philosophy, SSCS uses an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning content areas through projects and units. Teachers plan lessons and experiences within each content area to ensure depth of learning for each unique discipline.
Active Education (AE)
Spacious Skies takes a broad view of physical education to include many areas of movement and kinesthetic education, as well as healthy living and positive choices in what we call Active Education. Our broad, encompassing approach to PE includes a variety of physical activities including competitive sports, gardening, dance, and theatre arts. At Spacious Skies, AE lessons are integrated with other content areas due to our expansive treatment on healthy living. For example, an AE unit or project in gardening would support students’ learning of life science.
Social studies lessons are concept-based ensuring an important and generative curriculum in which students develop the characteristics necessary for full and effective participation in a democratic society. In our first years, students at Spacious Skies will be engaged in school-wide projects focused on the social studies concept of community. We thoughtfully chose community as our school-wide concept because, as a new school, we want students, teachers, and parents to be active participants in creating the culture of Spacious Skies. The concept of community was also chosen because all children have access to and prior knowledge of the content.
Spacious Skies does not have a self-contained, designated computer lab. Instead, students use technology as a tool to enhance their learning. Technology is integrated in all content areas, and has particular utility during projects and in the Thinkering Lab as children move through the grades. Teachers will design a Digital Mindfulness curriculum to support students’ ability to use technology as a tool to enhance the quality of their lives, which includes technology as a tool for learning, eliminating bullying, identifying and curating quality information on the Internet.
Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP)
With the implementation of Project-Based Learning, Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) will be fully embedded in the curriculum. In this way, the Spacious Skies’ approach to preparing students for career and college is holistic and integrated across the disciplines, and begins in the earliest grades.