About the Learning Program
Four Design Features
- Impact Academy at Orchard Lake Elementary is where learning is personalized, embedded in real life inquiry and impacts communities. Our vision is to create a personalized learning environment where all students are taught at their instructional level of learning in the areas reading, writing and math. Students and teachers together design an integrated pathway of learning to utilize individual interests and talents. Integration of content areas will connect all learning to real world problems, so students discover ways to impact each other and the larger community.
- Personalized Learning
- Future Ready Skills
- Service Learning
- Integrated Studies
- Elective Learning (Future Implementation)
Raising Student Achievement through the Following Model:
Personalized Learning will raise student achievement because:
Each student has defined, clear and rigorous learning expectation
Students are working in their instructional level (Zone of Proximal Development)
Students are more engaged because they experience challenge and success
Students are valued as individuals, therefore, they work harder and reach higher
Less time is spent on behavior management because there is more time spent on doable tasks.
Education must prepare our students for the future work force.
Education pedagogy will make shifts to create opportunities for students to apply the following skills:
Core subjects – reading, writing, math·
Creativity – Critical Thinking – Problem Solving – Communication – Collaboration
Information, media and technology literacy
Civic responsibility and global awareness
Service Learning is a multifaceted teaching and learning process uniquely tailored to meet specific learning goals and community needs
Service Learning will raise student achievement because:
Students will engage in learning that is meaningful and relevant
Service learning goals are clear and aligned with curriculum
Learning is experiential and applied; deepening understanding
Learning is internalized through reflection activities before, during and after service learning
Service learning promotes understanding of multiple perspectives fostering respect and developing interpersonal skills by group decision–making and conflict resolution
Students are active partners in identifying community needs and planning
Service Learning would happen within the integrated studies and elective learning structures
Science, Social Studies, Health and Technology standards are connected to a theme, essential questions and service learning project for all students.
The whole school will be studying their standards connected to the same theme and related service learning projects. Advantages:
Studies meets the needs of different types of learners
All content learning is connected
A deeper understanding of content is developed by the student
Elective Learning is a block of time when all students participate in activities of choice outside of the regular school day. Initial instruction on state standards would not be taught during this time. It would be a time for students to go further with the initial instruction and to explore their talents and interests. This would include specialists and community members. Supplemental interventions could also be delivered.
Possible activities offered in the areas of: foreign language, performing arts, visual arts, music lessons, fitness, sports, technology, supplemental instruction, academics – activities could also tie to future service projects.
School Spotlight: Impact Academy
Impact Academy is a K-5 district school of choice developed by a team of seven teachers who were committed to building a learner-centered environment. The 425 students experience their ‘just right’ learning targets in the areas of math and literacy and experience Service Learning as a relevant platform to learn about and contribute to the world, while developing soft skills for the future workforce and life. The Impact Academy model is built for all types of learners and the demographics reflect the traditional neighborhood school that used to sit in the space. Impact is unique, as it was designed and launched by teachers in 2013, as a teacher-powered, learner-centered elementary school in the context of the Lakeville district.
Q: How does being teacher-powered impact student success?
A: Because Impact Academy was designed by teachers with the needs of their students in mind, the developers were able utilize the resources of personnel, time, technology, space, and student grouping differently. Students are organized in vertical communities and experience some of their learning with grade alike peers and some in a multi-age setting.
The dynamic movement within the community of students allows for all to work where they are as a learner, instead of where they ‘should be’ according to their age or grade level. All students experience success and challenge!
Q: How do you all make decisions or which types of decisions are made by whom?
A: Impact Academy staff includes a principal, 34 certified staff and 15 support staff. For three years the model thrived as a program inside of a traditional school and is now in its second year of a whole school model. A shared leadership team focuses on decisions that affect the entire school and is made up of the principal and 11 teachers, representing the communities and specialist areas. Each learning community has the opportunity to officially collaborate once a week, during the school day, for over an hour to make decisions specific to the students they serve, the Service Learning experiences, and teaching practices. There is a strong desire to build ways for all students and teachers to exercise their voice and for all to feel valued as a team member. Currently practicing the fist to five protocol, which allows the adults to voice where they are in supporting a decision that is being considered. We are most excited to continue to create ways for the students to gain voice in their learning experience.