- Differentiated Instruction
- Co-Teaching and Team Teaching
- Project-Based Learning
- Academic Support
- Enrichment Classes
- High School Service Learning
- Excellence for All
Differentiation is an educational philosophy that recognizes and celebrates that all students are different and thus bring a range of strengths, challenges, and interests to the classroom. Teachers who differentiate carefully plan their objectives and goals for each unit before beginning a lesson and then they tailor their lessons to inspire and support the achievement of all students in their room.
In a differentiated classroom, students might choose their own research topic or be given a choice of projects to display their knowledge, thus engaging learners with different interests or learning profiles while still developing the similar skills and understandings of the essential concept in all students. In another differentiated lesson, a teacher might organize a small group of activities within the same classroom based on the different levels of readiness of students for the topic; for example, in an algebra class, while all groups might be studying linear equations, some children might be ready to try equations with larger numbers while other children might still need to gain mastery of the concept by working with smaller numbers.
Teachers who differentiate never take student understanding for granted. So that teachers are always aware of the understanding of their individual students, differentiation also incorporates frequent, ungraded assessments to evaluate student progress informally. Such informal assessments allow teachers to adjust instruction based on authentic and immediate feedback on student learning.
Collaborative team teaching provides flexibility for the teachers to instruct students in low student/teacher ratios with comprehensive observation and assessment. Co-teaching teams pair together a general educator and a special educator, who are responsible for teaching core subjects, including math, language arts, and science, in the Lower School. Students leave the classroom for specialty classes, such as art, music, and Physical Education. Global languages are also taught by specialty teachers. In the Middle and High School, each student has an advisor, with a small group of peers, and an individualized schedule, based on his or her learning profile.
Across grades and disciplines, The IDEAL School faculty employ project-based learning, in which students explore real-world problems and challenges through interdisciplinary, inquiry-based lessons. Project-based learning is ideally suited for inclusion education, as it encourages collaboration and accommodates the strengths and challenges of all students.
The IDEAL School welcomes children with a wide range of abilities. We are set-up to accommodate students, who need academic support. In keeping with our mission, students with learning differences are fully included in the school program throughout the day. Students may receive individual or small-group academic support in the classroom, and in the learning center, depending on the individual child’s needs. Students are not pulled out of whole-class academic instruction, and as a result of unique scheduling, students needing therapies, including speech and language, occupational, physical or counseling, are not singled out, which causes stigmatization.
In addition to daily creative arts and physical education instruction, IDEAL offers a range of enrichment classes. In the Lower School, these include chess, musical theater, Tae Kwon Do, drama, and yoga. Middle and High School clubs range from voice ensemble to engineering and Student Council. There is also a full offering of after-school activities, including a competitive sports program for Middle and High School students.
IDEAL’s signature three-year service project is designed by each student in partnership with a faculty mentor and provides students with lifelong learning and leadership skills.
Year One: Students take a semester-long class focused on the challenges faced by various populations in New York City and select one area for research and exploration through interviews, visits to non-profits, and research.
Year Two: Students complete 20 hours of service within the IDEAL community or in a non-profit organization or another organization that supports their focus area. Service hours are supervised by a mentor in the organization and a faculty member at IDEAL.
Year Three: Students complete a capstone project that includes further work with their chosen organization, presenting their research to the IDEAL community in assembly and a culminating conversation with their service organization
ArtBeat is IDEAL’s annual visual and performing art show, with schoolwide exhibits of our students' creative endeavors displayed throughout both school buildings. Each spring, as the school year begins to wind down, our community takes the time to reflect upon and celebrate all that our students have accomplished throughout the year in the visual art department at IDEAL. All students in visual arts classes showcase a body of work, and music and theatre students perform pieces from their longer works. IDEAL families tour our school art gallery as students highlight the motivation and techniques behind their work. Our authentic, gallery-opening style approach to ArtBeat provides an opportunity for students to display their skills and work, and student creations reflect each artist's creative spirit, courage, tenacity, and unique style of expression.