Academics

Student examines shellStrength-based Philosophy and Focus The Broadoaks School offers a challenging and supportive environment where children explore, question, and create. Broadoaks teachers are committed to bringing the school’s strength-based philosophy to life in every classroom lesson and to nurturing every child’s emerging competencies, problem solving skills, creativity, and confidence.

Broadoaks capitalizes on children’s personal interests, their curiosity about their world, and their natural developmental penchant for becoming increasingly more independent and competent. Broadoaks is a strength-based, not a deficit-based school. We believe that our personal interactions with the children within indoor and outdoor environments designed to promote learning and cooperation are the basis for teaching and learning at every grade level.

The school faculty often adopts a focus or theme for one or more years. A current pedagogical focus is essential questioning, that is, developing questions that go beyond recalled knowledge and facts to delve into the connections between and among phenomena. For example, students and their teachers may explore how a historical event, such as a war, might spur on scientific research and, conversely, how scientific advancements may affect society. Questions like these help cross traditional boundaries between content areas and build bridges between science class, social studies class, and literature study, for instance.

A current school-wide theme is sustainability. From the youngest children in preschool to the oldest in middle school, all students and teachers are engaged in learning about sustainability and in finding ways to be active participants in sustainability projects at home and around the world.

Technology Philosophy and Practice We hear over and over again from our parents of our former students that Broadoaks graduates excel in their technology skills when they move on to high school. They know how to take maximum advantage of the hardware and software available to them at home and at school. They can make iMovies, use Garage Band, create powerpoints, post course-related information to online bulletin boards, collaborate on the development of position papers using document sharing, use social media responsibly, create web pages… the list goes on and on. Most importantly, though, they are quite good at locating and evaluating information they find online. They ask critical questions about the sources of information and search out opposing points of view. They know how to incorporate online material into their essays and reports without plagiarizing.

Broadoaks’s approach to technology instruction and use is rooted in our active learning philosophy. We purposefully do not have any computers in the preschool. Persuaded by research, we know most young children already spend too much time in front of a technology box – a tv, an iPad, a computer, a phone. We know that they will profit much more from play time rather than more box time.

In the primary grades, we have only a few computers in each classroom by design. Here again, we think that our young students have plenty of time with technology outside of school, so we focus instead on active learning to promote progress across all inter-related domains of development: cognitive, social, physical, linguistic, emotional, and moral/ethical. Of course, computers and other technology are available in each primary classroom and teachers use them strategically for instruction across content areas.   In addition, children also get to choose technology during their plan-do-review times.

In upper elementary and middle school, we typically have one computer for every two students. The purpose is to promote collaborative use of computers for individual, paired, and small group work. A typical example is that two students might share a computer to look up information for a report.   They are responsible for talking with each other about the information, challenging its veracity and relevance to the report, and figuring out how best to use the information they find most compelling. Students typically learn more through this collaborative, constructive process than by sitting alone and looking up sites on the Internet.   However, when individual use of computers is important, teachers separate the class into groups so those who need a computer have access to it.

Thanks largely to the annual Holiday Auction, Broadoaks is usually able to keep up with technological advances and provide both hardware and software teachers request for their classrooms.