Learning the skills and strategies in the context of rich content classes
Odyssey's goal for its students is for them to be empowered with the skills to appropriately plan, execute, and judge the quality of their work.
Students become equipped with the skills to become independent learners who can successfully understand, retain, retrieve, interpret and apply information learned from oral and written material. Students are encouraged to become stronger self- advocates in all of their content classes. A multitude of strategies are introduced, taught and practiced in the content classes in order for the students to gain expertise in learning how to learn the content.
Executive function skills taught and applied:
Text book skills
Paraphrasing and summarization
Core Academic Classes are 50 minutes per class and include the following subjects:
Reading and Writing Tutoring, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Math
Specials offered to students include the following:
- Creative Writing for Middle School
- Genius Hour
- Language Arts
- Music Assemblies for the School
- Physical Education
- Social Studies
- Social and Emotional Learning Classes
- Theater Workshop
- Tutoring (Reading and Writing)
The Lower School art curriculum is designed to build self-esteem and positive experiences with art using a multisensory approach. Students enjoy a classroom environment combining teacher-directed instruction and self-directed discovery while creating art.
Special importance is placed on creating an atmosphere where the process of creating art takes precedence over the product created. The students make individual and cooperative artwork and they are exposed to many different media forms and materials, revisiting fundamental art terms and content at higher degrees of difficulty and detail as they progress through the lower school art program. Emphasis is placed on employing the students’ natural curiosity to be a motivator in learning art concepts. The lower school art program also integrates projects based on cultural objects and artwork from history as a means of promoting cross-curricular learning in conjunction with the Social Studies, Science and Language curricula.
The Middle School Art program is primarily focused on exposing the students to many different art mediums and cultures in the hopes of finding their ultimate art mediums. The emphasis is to create a safe environment in which to make mistakes and learn from them. There is a focus on helping the students find another language to help them express themselves, another tool to help them form an identity. The diverse cultures introduced in the classroom help the students develop empathy and expand their world view. Process is as valuable as the product in our classroom and we value hard work as much as mastery.
The creative writing program aims to develop written and oral skills in the areas of figurative language, organization, elaboration, vocabulary, and grammar. The program’s goal is to instill confidence in students, teaching them how to effectively craft their imaginative ideas into well-developed stories and poems. Furthermore, the program’s multisensory approach adds an element of fun to the writing process, allowing students to fully exercise their creative spirits in a nurturing environment.
The Genius Hour curriculum challenges students to follow their interests and passions in a school-structured environment. The theory of this "passion-driven learning" derives from several schools and companies that have emphasized independent student (or employee) learning through discovery and exploration of interests that might otherwise be left uncelebrated.
Each student chooses a topic that is unique to their own interests. During the first five classes, the students spend time reflectively analyzing themselves and trying to discover subject areas that are interesting to them. They also learn how to set up a blog to document their thoughts and findings as the project progresses.
The students research their topic to explore their curiosity and interests while updating their progress on their blogs. At the end of the year, the students' hard work culminates in a class presentation to share their findings with their peers.
The language arts program proposes to develop the basic oral and written language skills necessary for accurate and effective communication. The program emphasizes the development of vocabulary, grammar, and clarity of expression in oral language, as a foundation for the development of reading and written language skills. Teachers incorporate opportunities for multisensory learning, and adapt their style and pace of presentation in accordance with the needs of students. Each year’s language program is tailored to the achievement level and specific needs of each class.
Library classes are designed to support the mission of the school by fostering a love of reading. For our students who struggle to read, it is vitally important to entice them with the joy of stories and the love of access to them. The lessons presented in the library are designed to incorporate proven techniques that maximize story comprehension and memory skills. During the year, students are exposed to a varied assortment of interesting, high-quality books. The library also teaches location skills and knowledge of and appreciation for literature. Various reading incentives are implemented throughout the year to encourage students to keep reading.
Middle school students are allowed opportunities to visit and use the library throughout the year. The library is available to students as a resource for research, study, and pleasure reading. Students participate in a school newspaper class once a week and produce a blog called Homer’s Happenings.
The Odyssey School strives to equip students with the skills, strategies, and tools necessary to progress in high school mathematics and beyond. Odyssey’s mathematical philosophy emphasizes individual learning styles and multisensory teaching strategies that meet each child where he/she is in order to develop the solid foundation of knowledge that will allow each student to achieve his or her potential. A multisensory approach is as necessary to teaching mathematics as it is to teaching language. Manipulatives, mental math, and written computation are fundamental components of the curriculum, critical to developing conceptual understanding.
The Safety of Spirit for each of our students is enhanced by a culture of mindfulness practice at Odyssey. Mindfulness is integrated in the daily teaching and learning, and provides a means for students to demonstrate empathy and compassion, focus and concentration, self-control and regulation, stress reduction, and relaxation.
Odyssey’s Mindfulness program introduces students to various practices that include breathing, yoga, meditation, centering, and other mindfulness activities. Teachers may embed mindfulness into the delivery of their class lessons, or students may be taught various skills in mindfulness in a weekly class with Odyssey’s school counselor. The daily exercise break for students includes a rotation for practicing yoga, also.
In order to cultivate a culture of mindfulness practice, students are provided a scheduled time for mindfulness after lunch/recess and before the start of the next period class. This five minute break each day is intended to give students and teachers a quiet time for calming and clearing the mind. The practice may include activities such as breathing, stretching, and walking.
Recent research studies strongly suggest that mindfulness offers a means for cultivating enhanced learning environments, and increasing both students’ and teachers’ attentional capabilities, self-awareness and self-regulation, and the ability to respond to experiences with non-judgmental attention.
Mindfulness practices in the classroom or school setting can optimize the learning environment, and be a powerful tool for Odyssey's students.
The music program at The Odyssey School is based on the premise that each child has intrinsic musical ability and should be afforded the opportunity to explore his/her potential in a safe and nurturing classroom environment. The music room is a laboratory where students learn about many musical genres and to develop skills in music theory, composition, vocal, and instrumental music. The students experience music by listening, moving, singing, playing instruments, and by participating in group and individual performances. Odyssey students have the opportunity to perform in a state of the art theater in the winter holiday musical production and school assemblies. Middle School students perform in a musical production in the spring. In the middle school production, students will be asked to dance and sing solo and/or in a chorus. Classes taking dance, violin, recorder and guitar instruction will perform in recitals for parents and the school community.
Special assemblies expose the students to all types of music. Workshops and guest performances enhance the overall curriculum. Selections of artists or performances are based on how the musical performance will be integrated with the social studies or language curriculum. The students may receive experiences with orchestral pieces, ballet, opera, musical theatre, operetta and thematic music.
The Physical Education curriculum provided to both the lower and middle school students is based on national standards. The program is focused on the following five overarching goals:
Develop the physical skills needed to enjoy participating in physical activities.
Develop the learner’s ability to use cognitive information to understand and enhance motor skill acquisition and performance.
Achieve self-initiated behaviors that promote personal and group success in activity settings.
Develop an awareness of the intrinsic values and benefits of participation in physical activity that provides personal meaning.
Establish patterns of regular participation in meaningful physical activity.
Science projects and hands-on materials aid students to construct meaning and understanding of the nature of science. Students are engaged in activities that encourage them to construct, test, probe, experiment, predict and question. The science class aims to stimulate interest and enthusiasm while fostering an attitude of wonder and appreciation of science. Language is integrated throughout science by reading science trade books, text books, and literature, discussing current science articles/events, recording science concepts, using Brain Frames, developing designs and plans for models and experiments and recording data and results.
The academic year begins with activities and projects designed to introduce, review, and exercise elements of scientific inquiry and method.
A wide variety of multisensory instructional techniques, instructional technologies, and educational technologies are employed with the focus being hands-on learning.
The academic year culminates with activities such as the annual Science and Technology Fair that allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and ability to apply the concepts and skills learned throughout the year.
The Lower School Social Studies curriculum focuses on Core Knowledge Sequence topics of geography and history. Geography includes a spatial sense of the world, an awareness of the physical processes that shape life, a sense of the interactions between humans and their environment, an understanding of the relations between place and culture, and an awareness of the characteristics of specific regions and cultures. Emphasis is placed on multisensory instruction to accommodate reading and writing difficulties. Understanding of multiple cultures and students’ social responsibilities are continuing elements of the course. Cross-curricular instruction is coordinated with other areas of the curriculum. Each year a lower school-wide thematic unit called Fall into Reading is generated by the Social Studies, Art, and Library departments.
Using the platform of history, geography, sociology, and economics, the Middle School Social Studies curriculum is grounded in direct instruction of study skills and other executive functions which successful students must master.
The scope and sequence traces the influence of ancient cultures on past and modern society. Within the context of teaching content, there is an emphasis placed on developing the skills associated with social studies vocabulary, content-driven vocabulary, map reading, study skills, comprehension, and expository writing. Cross-curricular instruction is coordinated with other areas of the curriculum, especially language and art.
The Lower and Middle School Character Development Program proposes to develop the emotional health of students by providing weekly classroom interaction between the students and the school counselor. The course integrates the School’s Four Pillars of Kindness, Honesty, Respect, and Hard Work in all lessons and teaches the students the social skills needed to be successful in the classroom, in social relationships, at home, and in the community. The Character Development Program is tailored to meet the specific needs of each class.
The Lower School Technology Program proposes to develop the basic technical skills necessary for accurate and effective use of technology as a tool in education. Whenever possible, the curriculum is integrated with activities from content classes. Each year’s technology program is tailored to the achievement level and specific needs of the class.
In the Middle School, the Technology Program proposes to develop the basic technical skills necessary for accurate and effective use of technology as a tool in education. Whenever possible, the curriculum is integrated with activities from content classes. Each year’s technology program is tailored to the achievement level and specific needs of the class.
This Middle School class is an on-your-feet introduction to collaborative theatre making. The student ensemble creates a theatrical piece, original or adapted, that examines theatre as an essential social art, a tool for personal transformation, and as a way to address social and political issues. Students analyze how theatre in performance, and as a creative process, has the potential to engage both audiences and ensemble members in critical dialogues regarding the human experience. With the student artists working as a collective in the
rehearsal room taking on various roles and informing each others’ processes, students are exposed to a variety of pedagogies in ensemble theatre making, including adaptation, group writing and found text, viewpoints, composition, improvisation and the creating of solo performance. Methods of offering critical feedback on works-in-progress are also be explored.
Tutoring is the foundation of The Odyssey School’s academic program. Each Odyssey student engages in fifty minutes of daily tutoring of reading and writing skills with a specially trained teacher who tailors every session to the child’s particular needs. Every student receives a daily one to one or two to one tutoring session in addition to a fifty-minute language class each day.
Odyssey tutors incorporate a variety of the most effective teaching methods that have been validated by significant research in the field of language-based learning. Careful consideration of tutoring placement is given to each child. Each tutor’s goal is to develop the awakening of the students’ inherent potential. These goals are developed through review of informal assessments and previous tutoring reports along with careful analysis of each child’s strengths and needs as demonstrated in daily tutoring activities.
Tutoring focuses on the development of language and literacy skills. Areas covered in tutoring may include phonological awareness, decoding, spelling, reading fluency, comprehension, vocabulary development, and oral and written expression. The development of executive function strategies and skills is included in tutoring sessions along with application and integration of technology. Odyssey tutors are trained in a variety of proven methodologies.
Two signature programs used at The Odyssey School are the Phono-Graphix® reading method and the EmPOWER™ writing process. Phono-Graphix® is a structured, systematic, multi-sensory reading and spelling program that is based on phonemic awareness and alphabetic code knowledge with an emphasis on strategy instruction rather than rule memorization. EmPOWER™ is an expository writing program designed to systematize the writing process so that teachers and students alike use a common language and core set of strategies that reveal each stage of the writing process, prompting students to make conscious choices about their writing, and reminding them to use specific strategies to manage its many components.