The Core Knowledge movement is an educational reform founded by Professor E. D. Hirsch, Jr., author of many books, including Cultural Literacy and The Knowledge Deficit. As one of the top elementary charter schools in Minneapolis, Beacon Academy uses the Core Knowledge curriculum for Science and Social Studies. It is based on the premise that if a student has a rich base of background knowledge, it will be easier to learn more. In addition, teaching reading comprehension skills within the context of core knowledge studies will make for a strong, lifelong learner. Core Knowledge is based on a large body of research in cognitive psychology, as well as a careful examination of several of the world’s most effective school systems.
¡Bienvenidos a Beacon Academy!
Spanish is an important part of Beacon’s curriculum and the students receive instruction in Spanish on a daily basis. Students walk away with more than just the ability to speak, read, write, and spell in the Spanish language. They also learn more about their own culture in the process. Every class is filled with students who have different levels of fluency in Spanish. In middle school, our Spanish classes are leveled in order to better meet the students at their level of fluency. Our Spanish curriculum is rooted in storytelling. Students learn new vocabulary through these memorable stories, often getting the chance to add their own personal details. Students master commonly used words in the Spanish language, allowing them to be expand their language fluency. The Spanish teachers like to infuse humor in their stories because it has a direct link to long-term memory. Students have fun and remember what they learn.
El departamento del español de Beacon Academy
Responsive Classroom (k-5) and Developmental Designs (6-8) approaches fit the Beacon Academy culture very well. Practical strategies help build social and emotional competencies day in and day out. A natural outpouring of these strategies is opportunity to build community, establish order, and engage and transform young students. One of the hallmarks of Responsive Classroom is the list of social skills students need: cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control (CARES).
Guiding Principles of Character Education at Beacon Academy
- The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.
- How students learn is just as important as what they learn.
- Greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
- Knowing our students —individually, culturally, and developmentally—is as important as knowing the content we teach.
- Knowing our families and working with them as partners is essential to children’s education.
For more information on our Character Education Curriculum, contact Beacon Academy or check out the following resources.
In Our School: Building Community in Elementary Schools by Karen L. Casto and Jennifer R. Audley
Guidelines for Developmental Designs: For Middle School by Scott Tyink and Linda Crawford
Responsive Classroom Classroom Practices (K-5)
- Morning Meeting. Each class gathers each morning to greet one another, share news, and warm up for the day ahead.
- Rule Creation. Students participate in creating classroom rules.
- Interactive Modeling. Students learn to notice and internalize expected behaviors.
- Positive Teacher Language. Teachers use words and tone to promote active learning and self-discipline.
- Logical Consequences. Students are allowed to fix and learn from their mistakes.
- Guided Discovery. Teachers use a format that encourages both creativity and responsibility.
- Classroom Organization. Classrooms are set up in ways that encourage independence, cooperation, and productivity.
- Working with Families. Parent insights are valued and encouraged. Families understand the school’s approach.
Developmental Designs Classroom Practices (6-8)
- Circle of Power and Respect. Each class gathers each morning to greet one another, share news, and warm up for the day ahead.
- Modeling and Practicing. Routines and procedures are taught and modeled to create a safe, courteous learning environment.
- Goals and Declarations. Students make goals which transform into declarations to guide them towards achievement.
- Power of Play. Student learning is enhanced by physical movement.
- Pathways to Self-Control. Students acknowledge they are responsible for their behavior.
- Empowering Language. Teachers use words and tone that promote active learning and self-discipline.
- Reflective Loop. (P-W-R) P is for planning what you will do and how you will do it. W is for working out the plan. R is for reflecting on what went well and what you could change to make it better next time.
7-8 Honors Program
The 7-8 Honors Program is dedicated to challenging Beacon Academy students who are high achievers in academics and character, intrinsically motivated, independent learners, and looking for more rigor. Beacon Academy is pleased to present students who are at or nearing the level of gifted and talented with these rigorous choices. While honors teachers still have to adhere to state standards in their given subjects, honors students are exposed to focused, in-depth topics within a subject area. They are expected to carry a heavier work load, which includes more homework, longer reading assignments, and additional novels, research, and/or projects.
Criteria for admission to the Honors Program:
- Acceptable standardized test scores
- Strong academic standing in honors subject area
- Student has an overall 3.5 grade point average or better
- Student earned an A in the honors subject during the previous two trimesters
- Excellent attendance record
- Teacher recommendation(s)
Year- long course offerings:
- Honors Pre-Algebra (7th grade)
- Honors Algebra (8th grade)
Trimester course offerings:
- Social Studies—Sociology
- Social Studies—Economics
- Science—Energy (8th grade only)
- English—Public Speaking/Oral Interpretation
- Social Studies—International Conflicts
- Science—Human Anatomy (7th grade only)
- English—Multicultural Literature
Note: Students may take a combination of an honors math class and any one trimester honors class.
K-3 Literacy Plan
In order to be more data-driven, we developed a conceptual framework for the entire process: 1) alignment of the system, 2) alignment of standards, curriculum, and assessments, and 3) alignment of instructional practices in the classroom. By using the NWEA Map tests, coaching, and professional development, we have narrowed the focus of the teachers’ planning and monitoring to pin-point student achievement based on State Standards. This allows teachers to understand how to use the data to plan and instruct.
Our math and language arts teachers are teamed up with specialist teachers on their PLCs in order to analyze the NWEA Map tests. These PLC teams evaluate, administer, and analyze the results from our two NWEA Map tests sessions. These Map tests are reviewed and analyzed during workshop week, during staff meetings, during PD sessions, and at the end of the year evaluate student growth. Objectives and standards help us to focus in on how to teach, while assessment data tells us how we are doing and how to improve our craft.
The key to this whole process is evaluating student achievement, re-teaching standards and benchmarks, and being able to focus in on specific achievement targets. Here is the process:
- Show teachers Map tests in advance
- Align lessons and units
- Administer Map tests multiple times throughout the year
- Teachers analyze growth charts and assessments
- Teachers implement re-looping and action plans
- Leaders and PLCs observe implementation
Furthermore, during the month of August, prior to each school year starting, the kindergarten students are pre-assessed with the ESGI Kindergarten Assessment. Students are also assessed throughout the year using the ESGI three more times. The following areas are assessed:
- Letter names and sounds
- Rhyme recognition and production
- Short and long vowel sounds
- Sight words
- Print awareness
- Identifying numerals
- Days of the week
- Months of the year
The kindergarten students with deficits in any of these areas work with our Early Intervention Specialist for more guided instruction. These students are also monitored over time as they move into 1st and 2nd grade for eligibility into our Title I program. This aligns with our goal in our Literacy Plan, to have all students Reading Well by Third Grade.
Our literacy plan was developed in the spring of 2012 by the Literacy Committee and supported by the K-3 Faculty and staff. This plan is designed to ensure that all students will be reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade. This document is a living-breathing document that will evolve over time as we adjust the plan based on the success of the interventions that are being implemented. The processes to achieve these goals are outlined in the following six areas.
The Literacy Committee, currently folded into the curriculum committee, was formed to develop, implement, and monitor the local Literacy Plan. The committee meets monthly to discuss and identify the scope of the plan. The committee is comprised of classroom teachers, School Board members, parents, and the administration.
Alignment of Curriculum and Instruction
Benchmark Literacy is based on scientific research and is aligned to the the Minnesota State Standards.
NWEA Map tests are nationally normed tests that are utilized around the United States by thousands of students. Additional assessments are used to validate mastery. Those additional tests used by Early Intervention, ELL, and our Title I teachers include the following:
- NWEA Map Tests
- WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test (W-APT)
- Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA)
- Benchmark Literacy Assessments
- Math Expressions Assessments
- Big Ideas Assessments
- ESGI Kindergarten Assessments
- Read Naturally fluency tests
- Diagnostic Assessment of Reading (DAR)
(The assessment schedule is listed in the multi-tiered system of support.)
Beacon Academy has had a strong partnership with parents to ensure student success. The literacy plan includes activities and means to involve and inform parents of their child’s growth in literacy.
Multi-tiered System of Support
Tier One (all students)
Kindergarten students will be assessed using the ESGI in August
The WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test (W-APT) is used to assess vocabulary for Kindergarten ELL students
Kindergarten students will also be assessed throughout the year using the ESGI Assessments
Students in grade 3 Spring MCA test in area of reading
Students in grades K-3 take the NWEA Map tests two times
Small group instruction takes place whenever a student scores in does not meet
Tier Two (students score partially meets on the NWEA Map tests)
Students in kindergarten receive small group instruction from our Early Intervention Specialist
Students in 1st and 2nd grade may receive small group/individual support from our Title I staff
Students use the computer lab to reteach reading and math benchmarks assigned by the teacher
Students receive more extensive small group instruction based on the Reading Map tests and standards they are still developing in
Tier Three (students score does not meet on NWEA Map tests)
Students in kindergarten receive more frequent weekly small group instruction from our Early Intervention Specialist
Students in 1st and 2nd grade may receive more frequent small group/individual support from our Title I staff
Students use the computer lab to reteach benchmarks assigned by the teacher
Students receive re-teaching lessons from classroom teachers
Students may also be referred to our Student Intervention Team
Our professional development plan is centered on classroom instruction and improving student achievement.
Students will achieve academic growth
Beacon Academy will increase the use of nationally normed data and research-based intervention strategies to promote the academic growth of all students.
Teachers will all create six week re-teaching plans derived from the NWEA Map tests
Teachers will work to increase their effective instruction by understanding the State Standard benchmarks and re-teaching needs of the students
Students in primary elementary classes will receive extra support in EIS and Title I services based on student test scores
Average student composite scores on the MCA tests will increase.
Administrative observations note an increase in re-teaching lessons and specific embedded re-looping sessions based on the data
Q-comp classroom observations note an increase in the teacher’s understanding of effective instructional techniques and use of data
Beacon Academy receives Title I funding to support our 1st through 3rd grade students in the areas of Literacy and Numeracy. Title I staff work with students who need extra help in reading or math. They work in small group settings outside the classroom and also work to support a lesson within the classroom. Each year, our Title I team holds a Fall meeting to introduce the program. If your child qualifies to receive help through our Title I program, you will receive progress reports throughout the year.