Our Philosophy and Approach
KIPP Sol Academy utilizes a comprehensive (Blended Learning) curriculum to ensure students with a spectrum of needs, interests, and abilities are stimulated and learning at rigorous, yet appropriate, levels.
What is Blearning?
“Blearning” at KIPP Sol means that we expertly mix learning environments, technologies, teaching methods, and structure cross-curricular student learning opportunities to ensure that students are challenged as individual learners. In order to honor our students’ growth and development over time as learners and people, we have divided our instructional model into the Lower School (5th-6th grades) and Upper School (7th-8th grades). Learn more about Blended Learning.
The Lower School.
English and Mathematics – Rotational "Chili Pepper" Model
In English and Mathematics, we use a Rotational Model. When a student comes into class, he or she will receive a mini lesson on the grade-level standard. After which, the student will take a mastery 'entrance' quiz. Based on the results of that check for understanding, students have a menu of options from which to choose to meet their unique needs. Each learning option is assigned a Chili Pepper Rating (ranging from 'mild' to 'caliente') and students are responsible for getting a certain number of Chili Peppers by week's end. As part of the learning menu, students rotate in small groups between working with a teacher, working collaboratively together, and working individually on extension projects or using online programming. By the end of each class, students take an exit quiz which demonstrates individual growth over the course of the class and overall collective class mastery growth.
Nonfiction Studies (Social Studies) and Science; Face-to-Face Model
In Nonfiction Studies and Science class, technology is used as to help communication between the teacher and students and between students. This model is used in place of the rotational model to ensure that time is also made for hands-on, project-based learning. We also infuse our Research-Reasoning-Rhetoric (R-R-R) strand in these classes.
We want students to understand that learning is not isolated to classrooms or subjects. Teachers collaborate to craft cross-curricular projects that incorporate music, art, physical pursuits and performance. We know that our students are exceptionally talented and that we must both find and foster their unique talents and interests through exciting, challenging, and innovative “Blearning” projects.
The Upper School.
By the time a Sol Advocate reaches the 7th grade, it is our goal that he or she is reading and performing at grade level. The Upper School model aims to support what we call Differentiated Acceleration.
“Pod” Cohorts – Flex Model
In 7th grade, we will use an online learning lab for Nonfiction Studies (Humanities) with credentialed Instructional Aids who pull out small groups to reinforce, remediate, or advance the skills the children are learning online. Students will still receive R-R-R projects in this class.
1:1 Computer Ratio – Self-Blend
While it was originally our plan to go 1:1 student:computer ratio by 8th grade, we were able to achieve this goal in our first year and will continue to be a 1:1 school grades 5-8. This means that each student will have a computer. By 8th grade, in order to prepare them for high school and college, every Monday students will receive a weekly agenda that outlines the learning objectives from each core subject. Students will be supported in organizing their time throughout the week to complete the learning objectives and to advocate for their needs in order to uphold these expectations. Additionally, children who are excelling beyond the 8th grade curriculum will be allowed to enrich their learning experience through a Self-Blend model in which students can begin to take online A-G requirements (college preparatory coursework) even before entering high school.
As an added layer to the cross-curricular thematic projects, Sol Advocates will also do culminating presentations to a panel of community and parent advocates in which they use the portfolio of work they’ve amassed throughout their four years at KSol to explain what makes them a Sol Advocate and how they will use the knowledge and skills they have gained, the character they have built and the power of their advocacy to continue the path through college and in pursuit of their passions.
Pillars of Excellent Education
Our Blearning model is based on our 6 Pillars of Excellent Education:
Rigorous Instruction: We provide instruction that is both practical and transformative. Mastery of content standards-based content is the target. Literacy and numeracy are taught across subjects. Multi-disciplinary projects promote 21st century learning and thinking.
Individual Exploration: We provide an intense focus on the development of the individual through personalized feedback and attention, love, and continuous reciprocal learning. Differentiated instruction is the core of our planning. Technology helps us personalize learning. Portfolios help each child track their academic and character growth over time.
Whole Child Learning: We provide a learning environment that is fun and interactive so that learning is expanded, memory is enhanced and meaningful connections are made. Our bodies are meant to move and our brains learn best when we are happy and stress-free; we endeavor to have zesty, joyful classrooms.
Risk Taking: We provide a space where risk-taking is encouraged and where mistakes, when addressed positively and purposefully, are viewed as the seed of genius, not the enemy of progress. Teachers teach students how to learn, not simply what to learn. Effective and timely feedback to students is considered necessary for them to be adventurous in learning.
Team Building: We provide a school environment in which the students' families and communities are embraced and honored as partners in the progress of each student. Children will learn the character traits necessary to become meaningful members of school, community and world teams through activities, field trips, sports, and other partnerships.
Data Driven: We provide instructional decisions anchored in student performance evidence. We use a robust series of diagnostics and performance indicators to help us understand our students’ strengths and needs and to thoughtfully match our instruction accordingly.