Palm Harbor believes that all students – especially underperforming students – learn best when pedagogy is based on science-based principles. For targeted students, this means a scientifically-based curriculum, teaching methods responding to the unique leaning style of each individual, especially styles and materials related to gender. The rainbow of learning styles will be addressed by differentiated instructional techniques in every classroom. For children below grade level, remediation will be prescribed and implemented using proven techniques based on the RTI (Response To Intervention) model. All activities will encourage students to become life-long learners and visualize themselves as college graduates.
The PalmHarbor model for basic academics will be traditional. It will use both standard texts (e.g., Harcourt Houghten Mifflin Reading Series) which support the Sunshine State Standards, and innovative teaching methods (e.g., science-based RTI materials and supplements). Given our emphasis on differentiated and direct instruction, we will use the following “best practice” instructional modalities.
honors all students regardless of ability. Although conceived as a way to keep gifted children engaged in the general education curriculum, it is now viewed as a proactive, multilevel approach for diverse student populations. Tomlinson (2001) cites 5 classroom elements amenable to DIF to increase all students’ access to and achievement within the curriculum. (1) Content – what we teach; (2) Process – how students come to understand and obtain knowledge and skills; (3) Products – how students demonstrate what they learned; (4) Affect – how students link thought and emotion in learning; and (5) Learning Environment – how the classroom is structured and functions.
emphasizes drills and practice with immediate feedback; lessons precisely sequenced; fast paced; and well-rehearsed by the teacher. This is facilitated by Task Analysis, which deconstructs a learning task into its components. DI implies frequent assessments and is based on the theory of mastery learning where students do not move on until they master each concept. DI programs received the “highest” ranking for instructional effectiveness (Ellis, A. “Research on educational innovations,” Eye on Education, 2001).
involves frequent assessment of student progress in learning the objectives that make up the curriculum; that is, CBM looks at learning as it occurs in real time (not just when completed). This allows for quick adjustments in teaching methods and gives the student a better chance to achieve stated outcomes. CBM is thus sensitive to incremental changes in student performance. Studies report that students, whose teachers tailor instruction plans on CBM data, perform and achieve more than other students. We will use teacher-made materials for CBM as well as Brigance-criterion referenced indicators. (See, Steeker, “Effecting superior achievement using curriculum based measurement,” Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 15, 2000.)
Educational best practices acknowledge the efficacy of content enhancement when used with learning strategies that recognize the theories of multiple intelligences and the value of multi-sensory approaches. Palm Harbor teachers will use some of the more promising content enhancement approaches including guided notes, anchoring tables and other types of graphic organizers, mnemonic strategies, other task specific learning strategies, physical guides (e.g., rulers, sliders and blinders to help the student retain his place while reading), manipulatives for mathematics instruction, and multiple methods of introducing new materials.
Faculty will be trained in (a) the theories of multiple intelligences, (b) Gardner and Bloom’s taxonomy, and (c) learn to implement these theories in their classrooms.
Neurobiological research indicates that learning is an outcome of the modifications in the synaptic connections between brain cells. Primary elements of different types of learning are found in particular areas of the brain where corresponding transformations have occurred. Thus, various types of learning result in synaptic connections in different areas of the brain. For example, injury to the Broca's area of the brain will result in loss of ability to verbally communicate using proper syntax. Nevertheless, this injury will not remove the patient's understanding of correct grammar and word usage.
Gardner also observes that culture plays a large role in the development of intelligences. All societies value different types of intelligences. The cultural value placed upon the ability to perform certain tasks provides the motivation to become skilled in those areas. Thus, while particular intelligences might be highly evolved in many people in a particular culture, those same intelligences might not be as developed in other cultures.