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Core Ideas Guiding Learning at King Open

Social Justice
Social Justice leads us to examine our approach to each child’s learning – to make sure that we value each child, provide full access to educational opportunity and resources, and affirm all cultures and styles of learning present in our school. Social justice also shapes curriculum. We place a strong emphasis on studying history from many viewpoints, including the examination of social oppression, struggle, resistance, and change. We also focus on ways we can make a difference in the world outside the school through classroom-based and school-wide community service and involvement.

In-depth Projects and Investigations
We have a commitment to in-depth learning within and across traditional disciplines. Themes and topics of study are pursued for periods from several months to a year. Students are taught to look at a topic deeply from many different angles. A sample of King Open themes includes:

  • “Family Study” in kindergarten
  • “Community Study and Portraits of King Open” in grades 1/2
  • “Charles River through Time” in grades 3
  • "Regions of Our Country" and "Discovering Justice" with a focus on "Immigration" in grades 4
  • “Resistance to Slavery” in grades 5.

These themes incorporate a range of academic skills and disciplines, including math and science, and connect with students’ lives and concerns. Visual and dramatic arts are integrated at many points, and the school’s art teacher connects the art curriculum with the core themes.

High Expectations and Academic Challenge
Teachers act on the belief that all children have great intellectual potential, and can contribute to the learning of the whole class and school community. Our goal is that each child is challenged and supported to meet high expectations for learning. Teachers at King Open create learning situations in which students learn through discovery, and are encouraged to ask questions, create, and solve problems.

Including All Students
King Open strives to be a fully inclusive school in which all students, regardless of learning styles, disabilities, or needs, have access to the same curriculum. Each child is viewed as bringing a unique set of gifts and potential to contribute to the learning experience of the whole school community.

Assessment for Learning
We believe that the most valuable assessments are developed by classroom teachers. Students are asked to show what they have learned through projects, narrative assessments, teacher-created tests and writing assignments, and portfolios. Students receive immediate and ongoing feedback and learn to develop skills of self-assessment and reflection.

Families participate in substantive parent-teacher conferences, and receive written reports, to learn about their child’s progress. Together, the faculty examines how King Open students perform on district and state required assessments as well as classroom assessments, and teachers use the information to update their curriculum and instruction.

Nurturing Community and Building Relationships
Every classroom is a community that depends on all of its members. We teach and help develop each student’s capacity for self-expression and self-control. It is through the process of learning respect for others’ rights and sensitivity towards differences that community is created and strong relationships forged. We see conflicts as an opportunity for learning, and explicitly teach and facilitate conflict resolution strategies.

Engaging Families
We strive to build strong partnerships between every family and teachers and staff. We believe that every family brings valuable strengths and experience to the school community as a whole. Family involvement at King Open takes many forms, and whether at school or at home supports the learning and social development of all of the children.

Professional Collaboration
King Open is a professional learning community with an expectation that teachers work together in teams and as a whole staff to improve teaching and learning at the school. Teachers collaborate in school-wide multi-grade teams to construct curriculum, assess student learning, set goals, address issues, and to support each other personally and professionally. As a result, there is a great deal of consistency of goals, content, themes, and practices across King Open classrooms. 

Responsive Classroom
King Open uses Responsive Classroom throughout the school. Responsive Classroom is a teaching approach that seeks to develop emotional/social skills alongside academic skills. It incorporates such techniques as daily meeting, rule creation, behavior modeling and positive teacher language to create an atmosphere in which students learn how to internalize expected behavior and correct mistakes with dignity. While some form of Responsive Classroom has been used widely by many KO teachers, KO is now formally using this approach in all classrooms and training all teachers.