Education

education1

Educational Approach

At the heart of our school design is a belief that students should be provided with work that matters, large blocks of time for exploration, project-based integrated curricular units across subject areas that tap into the student’s natural curiosity, competency based learning, and opportunities for student to extend their learning beyond the classroom.  Rather than subscribe to one method, Inspire Elementary‘s focus is actualizing an INQUIRY based, PERSONALIZED learning environment in concert with the COMMUNITY to make a positive impact locally and GLOBALLY. Each of these components connects to the broad mission of leveraging children’s passions, talents and learning styles to create an education that cultivates the whole child.

Imagine a generation of students inspired for learning and adventure. Imagine a generation of students who learn with empathy and optimism. Imagine students who seek solutions and possibilities in a constantly changing world that is complex, unpredictable, and unknown. Our school mirrors the real-world. Our approach engages students in meaningful work in which they are challenged to try things, take risks, and make connections.

Personalized Learning Plans

Children are naturally curious and capable learners. Our Personalized Learning Plans help them drive their own education through their real-world motivations and interests. Inspire Elementary teachers curate our rigorous curriculum in partnership with students and parents, allowing children to learn at their own pace and in the ways they learn best.

Real-World Application

The world itself is captivating and interconnected. At Inspire Elementary, we encourage interdisciplinary learning and avoid artificial separation between subjects. Encouraging students to learn by doing, we promote a deeper level of understanding. Teaching may originate in the classroom, but will continue on trips throughout the community, at home, or even on family vacations.

Community Connection

Inspire Elementary is supported by deep parent involvement, and active use of the best people and places that local areas have to offer.

Whole Child Development

We agree with the research: social and emotional learning (SEL) is critical to student success in school and in life. Inspire Elementary balances academic rigor with an emphasis on growing good citizens. We help our students to become self-aware and to develop the skills for good decision-making. Throughout, we encourage the grit, resilience, confidence and social engagement necessary for happiness and success in the 21st century.

education2

Curriculum

To thrive in today’s world, students need both breadth and depth in their educational experience. We foster interdisciplinary learning across all core education subjects. We also give students ample opportunity to explore their interests and cultivate uniquely differentiated strengths. Our curriculum taps into students’ natural curiosity, is developmentally aligned, is flexible, and is mastery based.   Teachers at Inspire Elementary are program and curriculum designers.  They design their own curricula and inquiry based units using a variety of resources to meet the needs of our unique students.

Inspire Elementary’s curriculum includes objectives in five major areas.

  1. Building a positive learning environment:  Inspire Elementary builds a positive learning community that fosters deep relationships among students and teachers.  Time and attention are dedicated to communication, collaboration and self-directed learning.
  2. Using an interdisciplinary, project-based approach:  Long instructional blocks of time allow for collaboration, student discovery and exploration are important at Inspire Elementary.  We assess deeper learning skills of critical thinking, problem solving, communication and self-directed learning.
  3. Engaging in “authentic” formative and summative assessments of learning and skill development:  Regular exhibitions and presentations of student work are woven into the culture of Inspire Elementary.  Authentic learning happens within and beyond the classroom.  We embrace the power of student-engaged assessment practices to build student ownership of learning, focus students on reaching standards-based learning targets, and drive achievement.
  4. Connecting students to the “real world”:  Students at Inspire Elementary are involved in authentic work that matters.  Students have opportunities to delve deeply into their interests and passions, therefore developing a personal connection to their work in the classroom and beyond.  Through inquiry based units of study students think critically to solve problems, create products and interpret their findings.
  5. Encouraging teachers to work collaboratively and as deep learners themselves in pursuit of excellence:  Teachers participate in collaborative inquiry, collaborative preparation for learning, team teaching and opportunities for informal and formal sharing.

Curriculum Resources

Inspire teachers curate learning activities for each child based on many outstanding curricular resources available, as well as resources they design themselves. In math, for example, we use programs such as Investigations which is designed to support students to make sense of mathematics and learn that they can be mathematical thinkers.  In language arts, we use Lucy Calkins Writing Units of Study, Strategies that Work by Goudvis and Harvey, and William and Mary which is an integrated curriculum model that incorporates higher level processes and product development and utilizes interdisciplinary concepts, issues and themes.

Extended Learning Opportunities

Inspire Elementary offers a wide range of experiences, including art, music, health and wellness and technology.  We personalize offerings based on student and parent preferences as well as community availability.  When applicable, extended learning opportunities are woven into students’ work in an interdisciplinary way.

education3

The Classroom

Inspire Elementary brought together educators, parents, and community to develop a new vision for our school.

By incorporating the latest methods and research in inquiry based learning.  We have created warm spaces that work as multi-disciplinary learning centers.  Students can study across subjects, individually and in groups.

The Inspire Elementary classroom is flexible, adapting to both teacher and student needs throughout the course of the day.  An open floor plan and flexible, movable and soft furniture allow us to accommodate a wide range of experiences and to make children comfortable.

education4

Critical Success Factors

Inspire Elementary has identified Critical Success Factors (CSFs) or areas we need to focus on to achieve an inquiry based, personalized learning environment in concert with the community to make a positive impact locally and globally:  Inquiry, Personalized, Use of Space, Community, Curriculum, Teachers and Students as Designers.

Inquiry: Through robust integrated student projects, students engage in deeper learning and authentic experiences that matter or make an impact both locally and globally. Children learn how to think critically, analyze, synthesize, evaluate, solve problems, create products, and interpret findings. We educate students through relevant, inspiring, imaginative, and challenging experiences.  Students are encouraged and supported to try new things, take risks, make connections, and care about others.

Personalization: Inspire Elementary recognizes that a one-size-fits-all education does not serve our vision.  Inspire’s model is student-centered with an expectation that students are invested participants in their education. Students learn to self-monitor their progress toward mastery of learning.  Students are flexibly and fluidly grouped and regrouped based on mastery of concepts and individual needs. Teachers facilitate learning experiences to help students reach their goals in multi-age, heterogenous, team taught classrooms.  With the goal of supporting the “whole child”, students have opportunities for experiences in world-language, arts, health and wellness, open choice, and social-emotional development.

Use of Space: The Inspire Elementary facility is a model for 21st century teaching and learning, reflects a non-traditional, vibrant space designed to nurture students, and invites curiosity and exploration.  Displays of student work, presentations of learning and exhibitions that rotate and/or becomes a permanent part of the facility is valued at Inspire Elementary.

Community: Inspire Elementary is a resource for the local community and partners to provide experiences for students. We share responsibility for learning in a variety of settings including real world situations and extended learning beyond the traditional school calendar and walls.  We encourage learning that contributes to deeper understanding and quality work. We surround children with teachers, peers, and community members who share a passion for learning and a respect for each other and who allow children to feel confident in expressing themselves and working toward their full potential​.

Use of Time: We provide long stretches of time for children to explore, inquire and play which supports individual learning differences.  We arrange teacher time flexibly to support our education plan.  Our schedule allows time for staff to engage in intensive professional development; collaboratively  develop, deliver, and monitor deeper personalized learning; collect and analyze data, progress monitor students, and thoughtfully plan and prepare for extended learning experiences and expeditions outside of the classroom.

Unique Curriculum and Practices: Our curriculum, scope, and sequence aligns with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS) but requires flexibility and autonomy.  The integrated units we design are co-created by teachers and students and meaningfully tap into a child’s natural curiosity. They are developmentally aligned and focus on the whole child—consider both the minds and hands (learning by doing) of individual students.

Educators and Students as Designers: The Design Thinking process is used by both students and educators to design solutions to challenges.  Inspire Elementary empowers teachers to design integrated (Humanities, Reading, Writing, Math, Science, and Art), multi-disciplinary academic curriculum as well as design projects.