We are educating where each child gets what he/she needs. Where learning is natural and learning standards are not something to be checked off and assessed, but constantly part of the learning process without the child feeling pressure. We assess what a child knows through questioning, conversation and observation which shows us what they already know (prior knowledge) and allows us a platform to build on. It’s a natural process. Children work at their own pace and learning is fun and stress free. The classroom is its own community and the school is the larger community, all working together.
We prepare our classroom and everything in it to entice the child to explore and follow their interests. We work on responsibility within our classroom community, our school community, and the community at large. We believe school and family are just as important and we must be a team. We have classrooms of different age groups to give students the opportunity to help other students which empowers them. The goal is a love of learning and independence. We empower students, teach and model problem-solving, help students to set individual goals, learn organization skills, ignite a passion for research and growth within themselves toward independence. When a student is able to set their goals, work at their own pace, explore what interests them, and is capable of doing so without a teacher standing in front of them giving them all the directions, they have reached their independence.
At Shining Starr Learning Academy, we welcome students with Dyslexia. Unlike the “normal” learner, dyslexics think in pictures not words, so they need a lot of activity learning vocabulary with pictures or objects. If they don't have pictures, the student has little or partial understanding . Dyslexics also use different parts of their brain which makes their learning / retrieval of information slower and their memory is often affected. "Brain Gym" is a strengthening tool to help the left and right brain work together.
Shining Starr Learning Academy will focus its assessment of students on formative assessment, which means to evaluate students on the work they do at school for the sole purpose of improving their learning. Letter grades will not be assigned until high school (when grades are required).
Research has shown that homework does not increase achievement in any significant way and in many situations decreases it. It also causes anxiety in students and disrupts home life. Therefore, homework will not be assigned to students with the exception, possibly, of activities in which the whole family can be included. We do encourage students to read each day at home, but we will not require a reading log. Projects will be completed in school. Students will work individually and in groups on projects that include researching, writing, and making displays and computer presentations.
At Shining Starr Learning Academy, the teaching philosophy is one of active learning. Students, especially those who have learning and processing difficulties, need to be more involved with their own learning. In reality, all students benefit from a hands-on, interactive approach to education. In math, for example, students will explore ideas so that they can get a better foundation of the concepts. Watching a teacher “do problems” and then trying the same type of “problems” over and over does not lead to students’ deeper understanding (and retention) of the concepts. Exploring and “doing math” lead to better learning over time.
Reading and writing are foremost among the skills students must learn in school. At SSLA, we strive to bring students’ own interests into the classroom so that they are motivated to learn. To this end, we will use the applied literacy (or content literacy) approach in which students will explore topics within the broader scope of the content and produce their own works of writing and other products to demonstrate their knowledge.
Social studies and language arts, for example, will be closely tied to each other so that students can learn content within the various fields of social studies (history, geography, civics, etc.) while developing their writing skills. We also believe that students need to have “down” time during the day, but we intend to use the time we have with them wisely by incorporating a variety of productive activities into the day, including art, “brain games,” games, and outdoor play. Students will get cook in our working kitchen once a week on a rotating basis. We will also include keyboarding and other computer skills in the curriculum.