Small and Personalized Learning Environment
Students need personal attention at all levels of education. Our schools are small and personalized. When fully enrolled, grades 9 to 12, there will be approximately 550 students in each high school and 270 at the Da Vinci Innovation Academy. In this close-knit community, every student is known, seen and valued by peers and caring faculty and staff. Students have multiple channels to express their interests and needs through advisories, mentoring, tutoring, internships, and more—as described below.
Rigorous and Relevant College-Preparatory Curriculum
Graduates from Da Vinci Schools will meet or exceed all California's "a-g" UC and CSU admissions requirements. They will demonstrate mastery and growth through public presentations of learning, exhibitions, standardized testing and performance assessments. In order to graduate, Da Vinci students must successfully complete 4 years of English, 3 years of Social Studies, 3 years of Math, 3 years of Science, 2 years of a Foreign Language, and 2 years of Art. Students must also complete 4 Presentations of Learning, 1 Internship, 1 Senior Project, 1 Service Learning Project, and 2 Early College courses. Additionally, students must take 3 College Board Examinations, go on at least 3 College Visits, complete 2 Financial Aid Applications, and apply to a minimum of 2 Colleges.
Da Vinci Schools are dedicated to preparing students for college completion and 21st century jobs through an interdisciplinary project-based, "learn by doing" curriculum that is rigorous and relevant and which integrates core subjects with real-life problems to be solved. Projects create opportunities for students to focus on real-world, complex problems that require deep research and analysis, synthesis of information, planning, organization, teamwork and perseverance.
Da Vinci Schools have community partnerships with many corporate, nonprofit and education institutions. Community partners offer students and faculty access to expert knowledge, industry-specific curriculum, internship opportunities, academic mentoring, teacher training, Early College programs, career guidance, and job shadowing experiences. We look to our community partners to help us define the real-world skill sets needed to prepare students for 21st century jobs in today's global economy.
A partial list of Da Vinci Schools’ Community Partners include: Antioch University Los Angeles, Art Center College of Design, Belkin International, The Boeing Company, Cal State University-Los Angeles, Chevron Corporation, COMDEV, El Camino College, Gensler, High Tech High, iNACOL, Karten Design, LMU, Mattel, Northrop Grumman, Project Lead the Way, Raytheon, UCLA,, USC, Vistamar School and West L.A. College.
Students enrolled in Da Vinci Schools’ Early College program attend college level courses on campus for college credit while simultaneously earning their high school diploma. Students who participate in college classes, experience college culture and gain access to accelerated courses are more likely to attend college later on. Da Vinci students are required to complete at least two college courses to graduate. During the 2009-2010 school year, two college level courses were offered in collaboration with El Camino College: Group Discussion (Speech) and Robotics. The robotics curriculum was developed in partnership with Project Lead The Way. There is no cost associated with the Early College program.
Da Vinci students go on college visits each year, grades 9-12. College visits offer students a first-hand look at college life -- campus tours, information sessions on admissions and financial aid, student panels, and opportunities to attend class. During the 2010-2011 school year, Da Vinci students visited USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, Harvey Mudd, UC Irvine, Cal Tech and UC San Diego.
Internships are offered in the 11th grade in three categories: peer education and community based, leadership and advocacy at the non-profit level, and professional work experience. By partaking in an internship, students build their resumes and learn valuable skills such as responsibility, organization, time management, discipline, teamwork, communication, leadership, customer service, negotiation, working well with diverse men and women, and more.
Job shadow days provide 10th grade students with an opportunity to visit a professional work site and "shadow" a workplace mentor as he or she goes through a day on the job. This provides young people with an up-close look at how skills learned in school are put to use in the workplace.
The Da Vinci Honors Program provides highly motivated students with the opportunity to work closely with professors and other motivated students in advanced levels of critical thinking, analysis, and research in their classes. Most Da Viinci classes have honors options. For more information, visit Honors Program and Mastery Based Grading.
Service learning is the lens in which students can gain access to community service and learn about their civic responsibility, and the need to strengthen communities through service learning activities. At Da Vinci Schools, students are required to perform a minimum of 20 hours of community service each year. Families must fulfill 25 hours of community service per year through volunteering on-campus, engaging with students off campus doing educational activities, or enrolling in college studies of their own.
Exhibitions are an important component of project-based learning and assessment, and provide a comprehensive view of each student's knowledge and mastery of the curriculum. Using oral presentations and digital media, students demonstrate how they are able to tackle real-world complex problems requiring critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and effective communication -- all skills that are vital to academic and lifelong success.
Students and teachers have daily access to technology, to use it effectively as a tool for learning and as a subject of learning. Technology is integrated throughout the day in student performance, classroom instruction, data management, and communication. Students develop proficiency in word processing, PowerPoint, video presentation, spreadsheets, Internet research and web design. A web-based student information system enables parents to check their child’s progress 24/7. All student work is maintained in a digital portfolio. The ratio of students to computers in each high school is 3:1.
Seminar classes (similar to electives) are practical, real-world non-core classes that are co-taught by Da Vinci faculty and industry professionals. Our industry partners help us identify those skills that students need to know and be able to do that do not appear in the state standards. During seminar period, industry will help teach and address these industry "standards". Some recent seminars have included: Product & Toy Design, Web Design, Robotics, Flight School, Leadership, eJournalism, Financial Literacy, Creative Writing, Engineering, Fashion Design, Yoga, and Gardening.
Mentoring, Coaching & Other Interventions
By providing mentoring, coaching, multiple resources and other interventions, students who need help in a particular subject or who are struggling to stay at grade level, learning English as a second language, or achieving at a faster pace than other classmates receive extra support for success.
Every student is enrolled in an Advisory class that is gender and grade-level specific. The advisory class is a place where students can bond with each other, get academic support, and have a safe place to share their feelings. Students have the same classmates and same advisory teacher throughout their four years.
School spirit is contagious at Da Vinci Schools, and no where is this more evident than at our weekly Community Dialogue assemblies. Every Friday, students and staff come together for a school-wide assembly known as Community Dialogue. During Community Dialogue, community is built, important announcements are shared, successes are honored, and traditions are established. A strong sense of community is the heart and soul of Da Vinci Schools.
Mixed Ability Grouping & Differentiation
At Da Vinci Schools, we know the success of our students rests in part on the shoulders of our teachers to provide learning opportunities that challenge, support and engage all students. That is why, as a staff, we dedicate much of our time to professional development focused on differentiating instruction, flexible grouping, tiered assignments, and other specialized strategies to ensure that we are challenging all students at a basic level, mid-level and advanced level depending on their individual strengths, needs, and learning styles.
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