CurriculumGVA’s model of Global Literacy in response to our core values is outlined with our Mission Statement and is built on the following five key educational components:
World Class Academics: GVA’s core curriculum was selected to close the global achievement gap. It features Singapore Math, which continues to rate high academically. (In 2007, 4th graders in Singapore were second in the world behind Hong Kong based on the assessment, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study/TIMSS). In addition, algebra is required for all students. For literacy, GVA uses Voices Literacy Curriculum for writing, reading, and character education. In addition, GVA uses standards-based, integrated thematic units focused on social studies and science.
GVA uses continuous assessments in core subjects with individual goal setting. In addition to DIBELS, MAPS and TCAP, GVA is evaluating assessments (e.g., Intel Education Assessing Projects tool, and Interactive Multi-Media Exercises /IMMEX) that explicitly assess 21st century skills. In addition, GVA’s portfolio assessment uses student “Passports” that contain a specific body of evidence demonstrating proficiency in Literacy L1 and L2, Deduction (Math); Induction (scientific method), Arts, Public Speaking, Information Literacy, and Intercultural Exchanges (linguistic, economic, artistic, interpersonal, etc.).
Second Language Immersion: All students learn to read, write, and speak a second language to the Intermediate High Level. GVA utilizes language immersion (100% in Kindergarten, 80% in 1st and 2nd grade, and 50% in 3rd grade and above). ELL students (both native speakers of a language other than English and heritage speakers who are exposed to a language other than English at home) build on the inherent advantage they have as bi-lingual students, through additive bilingualism by using fluency and literacy in Spanish, Mandarin, French , Russian and German to support academic performance in English.
Cultural Competency: GVA has a school-wide focus on developing cultural competency by building functional interpersonal attachments and learning to negotiate cultural boundaries. The framework for this is the themes in the Voices Literacy Curriculum: Personal Identity, Perspective Taking, Conflict Resolution, Social Awareness, Friendship and Love, and Democracy and Citizenship. Cultural competency is also highlighted through monthly International Assemblies focused on different countries (storytelling, intercultural arts, etc.). Cultural competency is also implicit and explicit in GVA’s “Peace Table” process used to address student, teacher, and parent conflicts. Students, parents, and teachers are encouraged to build on strengths reflected in both cultural differences and similarities.
21st Century Learning Community: GVA students develop 21st century skills (e.g., The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner: critical thinking and problem solving; collaboration across networks and leading by influence; agility and adaptability; initiative and entrepreneurship; effective oral and written communication; accessing and analyzing information; and curiosity and imagination) through thematic units focused on social studies and science and in core subjects. Students, parents and teachers use technology to facilitate learning and intercultural exchanges. The school library includes substantive collections of multi-lingual texts and 21st century technology tools.
International Studies: GVA utilizes local, regional, national, and international studies aimed at developing global perspective and linguistic, artistic, and cultural exchanges. Students learn through authentic opportunities such as International Towne sponsored by the Young Americans Center for Financial Education, domestic/international travel programs, and real/ virtual student exchanges.
Key Design Attributes
GVA is class-room based with a maximum of 28 students per class with lead teachers in English teaching reading and writing and thematic units and immersion teachers in Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, French, Russian and German, teaching language and content in the world language (e.g., mathematics and thematic units) using full or partial immersion. In Kindergarten immersion is 100% and 80% in 1st and 2nd grade. Third grade and up is 50%. In 1st and 2nd grade, students have a 90 minute reading block with a reading teacher. This is essential to begin building literacy in English to prepare for TCAP testing in 3rd grade. It is also necessary to facilitate transition to a traditional school.