Wise School offers an academic program that is based in core content, and taught through the lens of rigorous interdisciplinary gifted methodology. We provide a scope and sequence of distinctive scholarly opportunities that develop real world problem solving skills, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.
Our curriculum is organized to promote depth and complexity in discussion and question formation. Learning experiences are designed to provide a balance of research based pedagogical strategies using direct instruction, deductive reasoning, and inquiry-based learning. The scope and sequence of the Wise Learning Process focuses on 21st century skills and challenges students to ponder meaningful questions, such as:
In the classroom, our upper grade students work with intellectual peers in reading, math, and Hebrew, while working together with grade level peers in science, social studies, project studio, technology, Judaic studies, and art. This balance allows educators to meet students where they are academically and challenge them to the next level, as well as building skills in working in collaboration with varieties of learners.
In a first of its kind partnership, we are proud to be collaborating with our partners at the USC Rossier School of Education. Our teachers work with Dr. Sandra Kaplan, Professor of Clinical Education at USC, to receive high-level professional development while incorporating the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) standards as defined by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC).
The development of the Wise Learning Process came to fruition through this partnership. Distinguishing elements for students include:
Each Wise School student pursues topics of interest and experiences the process of Independent Study throughout the school year. Independent Study is a vehicle for digging deeper into the unanswered questions that naturally emerge from the content, but diverge from the lesson. In this way, it becomes “independent” from the core content, and can be explored individually, in partnerships, in small groups, or as a whole group. Through research and exploration, students use divergent thinking and ask sophisticated unanswered questions that result in elevated learning and discovery. This experience encourages and challenges our students to pursue a point of view on a topic and share their learning.
We believe that learning the skills of critical and creative thinking and applying them across the disciplines is essential to success for the unknown jobs of the future. Our students learn to identify discrepancies, problems, and ethical dilemmas as they build confidence in these essential skills. This identification leads to a need to go through a process to find a solution to the problem, utilizing the problem solving process or the engineering design process.
Change is necessary for growth. Adaptation leads to change. The quest for power motivates behavior. Structures are made up of interrelated parts. All of these statements are considered Big Ideas and can be proved or disproved in any discipline, with multiple examples. We organize units and lessons around Big Ideas in order to provide a more global perspective on the content and to allow for interdisciplinary connections. Students are encouraged to prove Big Ideas with examples from their own lives, from current events and from core content.
Students engage with a balance of texts by reading novels, short stories, poetry, non-fiction, informational texts, and online materials. By integrating common core English Language Arts standards, students think, discuss, and write about what they are reading using small group, whole class, and independent strategies. In Kindergarten through second grade, we use the Diagnostic Reading Assessment (DRA) to ensure that students are working with texts at their instructional level, and taking home texts that are at their independent level. In these grade levels, the students learn to read in flexible ability groups with a focus on fluency, decoding, word study, and comprehension. In our upper grades (3-6), students transition to reading to learn. They are given the Quantitative Reading Inventory (QRI) at the beginning and end of the year to determine their instructional level, and they are placed into homogeneous reading groups. They build explicit and inferential comprehension while developing research skills and expanding higher level vocabulary.
The writing program at Wise School provides instruction in opinion, informative, and narrative genres. The scope and sequence enables students to demonstrate increasing sophistication in all aspects of language use, from vocabulary and syntax, to the development and organization of ideas, with increasingly demanding content and sources as they progress through the grade levels. In lower grades, students explore the writing process in a systematic fashion, from brainstorming to final product. In grades 4-6, teachers are trained in and follow Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study in Opinion, Narrative and Information Writing, which was developed at the Reading & Writing Project at Columbia University. The objective of the program is to “help young people become avid and skilled readers, writers, and inquirers”, which is directly in line with the Wise School schoolwide learning outcomes.
With an emphasis on mathematical problem solving, logical reasoning, and real-life application, students learn to think like mathematicians as they work through core content in flexible ability groups. Integrating technology, science and engineering with mathematical thinking encourages learning through discovery and hands on experiences.
The school adopted a new mathematics curriculum in 2014, Math in Focus. This Singapore Math based program follows the concrete-pictorial-abstract methodology, allowing students to connect real life mathematical situations to abstract concepts. This program has been progressively rolled out in order to ensure continuity for the students and will be fully implemented in K-5 by 2018. Our sixth grade students are taught with a progressive middle school math curriculum, Math Innovations. This program was implemented in 2014 in order to provide a multi faceted academic experience to prepare students for the challenges of secondary education in mathematics. Our mathematics scope and sequence addresses the wide range of students’ skills and abilities and meets the Common Core standards for mathematics.
Our highly qualified science specialists work in a co-teaching model to provide a hands-on, interactive, and challenging experience that provides an interdisciplinary approach. Our team has developed the curriculum collaboratively using the guidelines of the Next Generation Science & Engineering Standards. Students develop a strong knowledge of physical, earth, environmental, and life sciences as well as a deep appreciation of the world around them. Classes are conducted in our state of the art science lab, which provides for natural integration of technology and engineering. Our STEM team includes our Director of Technology Integration, our Project Studio teacher, and our art teacher. This team works with the grade level math teachers to design problem solving experiences that allow the students to see the application of learning in a real world context. The STEM program culminates in the spring with an all-ages inquiry-based family STEM fair.
The themes of social studies permeate all parts of the Wise Learning Process, as everything must be learned according to its context, the people, place and time in which it occurred. Our social studies program allows students to approach the world around them as geographers, economists, historians, sociologists, and political scientists in a developmentally appropriate way. The focus of the study in each grade level allows children to explore chronological and spatial thinking in increasingly complex ways.
Kindergarten: Our classroom community. Students discover the concepts of citizenship, community workers, and significant people that have made a difference.
First grade: Our place in time and space. Students focus on American and other symbols and how they have provided a sense of community over time.
Second grade: People who make a difference. Students explore the characteristics of heroes, and study heroes from the bible, the past and the present.
Third grade: Los Angeles history. Students investigate the physical and cultural landscape of our local region and the impact that the past has had on the present.
Fourth grade: California history. Students explore how the quest for power (economic, religious, intellectual, social) has motivated human behavior in the development of agriculture, industry, culture, and government in California over time.
Fifth grade: United States history. With a focus on studying multiple perspectives, students analyze the conflicts that led to the formation of our pluralistic society in which individual rights are secured.
Sixth grade: World history, ancient civilizations. Students consider the origins and contributions of ancient civilizations in order to justify common parallels and paradoxes. They investigate the convergences of economic, social and geographic events that helped form and destroy the world’s major civilizations from the Paleolithic era to Egypt, Rome, Greece, China and India. At the same time, their Judaic Studies course explores the same concepts in the history of ancient Hebrews.
Unique to Wise, our curriculum emphasizes Hebrew as a modern language aligning with studies that prove becoming bilingual has a positive effect on students’ intellectual growth in all subject areas. Students are immersed in the beauty, tradition and sophistication of the language, while learning to speak, read and write with natural fluency.
Designed for Jewish students in the Diaspora, our program will always feel relevant to children's lives and cultural backgrounds. Hebrew is introduced in a nurturing, creative environment fostering basic skills through fun and engaging activities. As fluency increases, students experience hands-on projects to gain a deeper foundation. In upper grades, our program expands communication skills building on listening, speaking, reading and writing proficiency.
What makes STEAM different from STEM? The A for ART!
At Wise School, Art is interwoven throughout all disciplines, especially in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The enthusiasm of our students, faculty and parents has led STEAM to become an important focus in Wise School’s curriculum. Over the last year, Wise School’s science program has continued to inspire scientific thinking amongst our young Wise scientists. We gained another experienced science specialist, Ally Coatney, and our returning science specialist, Mandy Bolkin, completed her Master’s Degree in STEAM Education. Together, they worked hard to continue to align the curriculum with the Next Generation Science Standards.
A large part of this alignment was the implementation of various engineering design challenges across the grade levels that tied into the physical, earth, and life sciences. Project Studio supports the engineering component of our program. With the guidance of Mr. Meth, an ever-expanding library of building materials and an expansive workshop, this one-of-a-kind Maker Space facilitated amazing student work. Additionally, Jan Navah, our Art Specialist, was always available to teachers and students to provide materials (often recycled), suggestions for their appropriate use in a given project, and help planning ideas and challenges. The new Tyberg Arts and Innovation Lab serves as a state of the art learning space with the flexibility to open a folding wall to accommodate an entire grade to collaborate and create with Technology and Art at the same time.
In February, we hosted our 3rdAnnual Family STEAM Night, where families participated in fun Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math activities. Our 6th grade students successfully presented their science fair projects, showcasing their research skills and ability to use the scientific method.