Summit Schools’ primary education program is designed to develop independence and support success in preparation for the intermediate years of elementary school. Students participate in meaningful learning that builds academic and social skills utilizing critical thinking and cooperation. They build on foundational math knowledge with the enVisions Math series and FrontRow, an adaptable online math curriculum. Building on the work of our early childhood teachers, Summit’s primary teachers also use the Orton-Gillingham Phonics approach to language learning. In addition, comprehension strategies and fluency activities are designed to construct meaning from text. Written language instruction is composed of personalized spelling, sentence structure, and the creative and informational writing processes. Inquiry, research methods, and study skills are taught through science investigations, social studies analyses, and other theme-based learning. Students often meet in small groups to differentiate for individual needs. The program is balanced with complementary curriculum in music, art and physical education/health/wellness.
Cornerstones of Summit Schools’ Programming
Summit Schools’ commitment to reaching every child means a commitment to various methods of instruction. While project-based learning experiences provide students with an opportunity to explore and discover, there are times when direct instruction in core curricular areas is best for students. Daily time for content -based experiences allows teachers the ability to work with individuals or groups of students who would benefit from extra guidance or extra practice in particular content areas.
Commitment to general education as a common experience means that Summit Schools’ students spend a portion of their day exploring educational experiences together with their classmates. These common experiences help support our democratic society by teaching students how to learn together and work together, looking at the same experience from various points of view and finding and utilizing each student’s personal strengths. A problem-focused, broad-fields approach finds students diving deep into subject matter by examining it from the perspective of problems that are interesting to them and relevant to their lives.
An inquiry-based approach to student learning scaffolds students through the process of discovery as they learn to question, explore, research, and think critically in order to take ownership of their education. By asking relevant questions about their own community and choosing to work in cooperative groups while exploring questions that are meaningful to them, students become partners in their learning. Inquiry means that even though Summit’s curriculum focuses heavily on general education as a common experience, personalized education maintains an influential presence, as student choice and personal backgrounds, interests, and needs are brought to the forefront of their education.
Summit faculty sees student evaluation as an evidence-gathering process, requiring multiple tools to gain an accurate barometer of achievement. Summit Schools uses standards-based assessment to evaluate student progress. Each grade level aligns its yearly standards and benchmarks with the Iowa Core Curriculum and uses student portfolios for formative and summative assessment to determine whether students meet those standards. Because evaluation is an evidence-gathering process that is both formative and summative, educators are constantly evaluating the effectiveness of instruction and students’ educational experiences. Approaching evaluation in this manner enables Summit’s faculty to achieve the mission and vision of our school.