Acera’s Learning Philosophy
Learn based upon ability
We believe that all students should have a chance to learn at a pace and in a way congruent with their individual ability. We aim to keep students engaged and challenged by meeting them where they really are—not where they should be based on their age.
We see age norms and curriculum frameworks as a starting point to customize a learning experience that engages each child as part of the school community, and furthers his or her abilities. Acera employs assessment, Individual Learning Plans, differentiated instruction, independent projects, and flexible groupings to enable a customized learning experience for each student.
Based on assessment results, students’ interests and feedback, parents and educators work closely to develop an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) for each Acera student. ILPs incorporate long-term goals for each student, synthesize with our larger educational framework and give credence to the student’s interests and aspirations. Teachers periodically meet with parents throughout the year to discuss how each student is progressing toward goals outlined in their ILP.
Flexible ability groupings in math and reading also allow students to work at their own pace, and engage in learning and discussion with like-ability peers.
At Acera, interdisciplinary learning occurs through a thematic approach. Curriculum is explored within a larger context, using thematic instruction interwoven through each part of the core curriculum. We utilize the Museum of Science’s Engineering is Elementary curriculum as a springboard to exploring the connections between engineering, science, mathematics, art, history, geography and social studies.
This type of learning is particularly appropriate for students capable of quickly moving from facts to more abstract concepts, interrelationships, and expansive ideas. Through this approach, we honor our students’ craving to apply knowledge within a larger system.
Build social and emotional intelligence
Acera seeks out future leaders, scientists, artists, mathematicians, musicians, writers and explorers alike. We believe intelligence comes in many forms, and we focus on each. We focus on developing the whole child, with emphasis on each child’s social and emotional well-being. We embrace Daniel Goleman’s theory of Emotional Intelligence, and believe EQ is just as important as IQ. We emphasize social responsibility, self-awareness and character-development, encouraging students to make a positive impact in their communities.
Enable creative problem-solving and complex thinking
The Acera philosophy emphasizes spending the majority of class time enabling students to think and concentrate on synthesis and evaluation–the top levels of the Bloom’s Taxonomy, instead of focusing solely on the “knowledge” realm.
A recent Newsweek article highlights a creativity crisis in the U.S. educational system, while creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson recently said the way learning is approached in traditional schools often hampers creativity.
Acera encourages creativity and problem-solving skills through project-based learning. We seek to create an environment where students can escape the Creativity Crisis.
Safeguard the spirit and curiosity of each student
Core to Acera’s mission is to offer each individual the freedom to pursue interest, nourish curiosity and foster exploration. In addition to Individualized Learning Plans, each student has a chance to further pursue an area of particular interest by completing an Independent Project.
Acera’s core values of community, openness, integrity, curiosity and innovation play a key role in our approach to behavior management. We believe in giving students space to experiment, observe themselves, improve, grow and learn.