Instructional Philosophy and Focus

Instructional Philosophy and Focus

San Diego Global Vision Academy (SDGVA) is a writing and service-learning based elementary school. SDGVA will build student’s academic self-efficacy to participate in the global community. SDGVA will serve all students of San Diego. SDGVA will do this by taking a three-pronged approach towards preparing students for 21st century literacy and leadership demands.

The first instructional approach of SDGVA is based upon the premise that access to high-quality educational experiences is a basic right of all learners and a cornerstone of equity. All SDGVA students are provided a quality educational experience that meets California academic standards in our learning objectives for the school. Any curriculum at SDGVA, disseminated by teachers trained in the Backward Design process, focuses primarily on assessment first and instructional activities last. Backward Design requires our teachers to move away from a more Traditional curriculum design that relies heavily upon teacher interest rather than students academic needs. Backward Design forces SDGVA teachers to look at the big picture with the end goals in mind, set the vision or the essential understanding of their curriculum or unit, decide how students will provide evidence of their learning, and finally design instructional activities to help kids learn what is needed to be successful.

The second approach in our educational philosophy is founded upon guiding principals of the National Writing Project recognizing that writing, in its many forms, is the signature means of communication in the 21st century. The needs of a democratic society and requirements of the workforce bring with them a demand for effective writing. An informed citizenry must understand the ways language works in order to read critically and communicate effectively. Beyond being able to read and comprehend documents such as legal contracts, advertising messages, and political materials, citizens must also have knowledge of the ways documents are composed and the expectations and requirements for those particular documents if they are to read them critically and understand the subtleties they contain. This kind of knowledge comes from opportunities to explore and wrestle with language so that it can be utilized not only by an elite few, but also by the society as a whole.

Writing offers these opportunities in ways not available through reading. Writers must manipulate language, understand structures and their demands as well as anticipate the needs of the reader in order to communicate clearly and effectively. Writing, beyond its communicative purposes, also serves as a vehicle for abstract and analytical thinking allowing the writer to clarify and organize thoughts and generate ideas. (Britton, 1982; Gere, 1985; Vygotsky, 1978). Writing through all content areas including mathematics, science and social studies will provide students the foundation to become accomplished writers, engaged learners, and active participants in a digital, interconnected world. SDGVA is committed to maintain an on-going academic partnership with National Writing Project via our local southern California site at UCSD, San Diego Area Writing Project (SDAWP), to guide our writing pedagogy, writing programs, family literacy projects and to provide quality professional development opportunities regarding writing instruction.

The final approach to SDGVA’s instructional philosophy views Service-learning as a teaching tool that allows students to develop the internal assets necessary for becoming responsible adults who contribute to our global society. More specialized than just community service, service-learning involves applying classroom learning through investigation of a community problem, planning ways to solve it, action through service, reflection on the experience and what was learned, and demonstration of results. Participation in service-learning projects creates leaders who take initiative, solve problems, work as a team, and demonstrate their abilities while and through helping others. Service-learning is a dynamic process, through which students' personal and social growth is tightly interwoven into their academic and cognitive development. According to scholars Eyler and Giles (1999), with the service-learning model "experience enhances understanding; understanding leads to more effective action.”

SDGVA will utilize service-learning as a teaching strategy that engages students by making education relevant. Our SDGVA Service-Learning curriculum and professional development model has been created by a founding member, who is certified as a service-learning consultant and professional development coordinator by Volunteer San Diego. SDGVA’s service-learning curriculum for K-6th has been modified for elementary students from three existing California standards-based curricular programs including PeaceJam Juniors (2008), Kids for Peace (2007), and The Points of Light Youth Leadership Institute (1996). Due to our elementary student population great consideration will be taken to utilize age appropriate service-learning projects that foster the physical, mental and emotional welfare of our students.