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Small and Personalized Learning Environment / Rigorous and Relevant College-Preparatory Curriculum / Project-Based Learning / Community Partnerships / Early College / Work Experience / Mastery-Based Grading / College Visits / Job Shadows / Service Learning / Exhibition / Technology / Seminars / Mentoring, Coaching & Other Interventions / Advisory / Community Dialogue / Mixed Ability Grouping & Differentiation
Students need personal attention at all levels of education. Our schools are small and personalized with approximately 515 students at Da Vinci Design and Da Vinci Science, 200 students at Da Vinci Communications, and 350 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 seminar classes (electives), advisories, mentoring, tutoring, internships, and more—as described below.
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 at least 1 year of Art. Students must also complete Presentations of Learning at the end of each semester and yearly service learning. Students may also to participate in Internships and Early College courses. Additionally, students go on yearly college visits, take a mandatory college writing class, and apply to a minimum of 2 Colleges.
Da Vinci Schools are dedicated to preparing students for college completion and 21st century jobs through hands-on, real world project-based learning 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.
Students enrolled in Da Vinci Schools’ Early College program have the opportunity to earn college credits for free while they are still in high school, reducing the time and cost of attaining a college degree. During the 2015-16 school year, 26 dual enrollment classes are being offered for college credit in collaboration with El Camino College, Antioch University Los Angeles, and UCLA Extension. The engineering curriculum is developed in partnership with Project Lead The Way. There is no cost associated with the Early College program.
As part of our Work Experience Program, students work unpaid in an organization to learn on-the-job skills and to provide the organization with free help. The assignment is usually two afternoons a week for eight to ten weeks. 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. More than 600 students have participated in work experience since the program's inception.
Mastery-Based Grading is a system of grading students based on their demonstrated level of mastery of concepts (“Essential Skills”), rather than just calculating an average based on the total number of “points” they earn in a semester. It measures demonstrated student learning, not speed of learning. Mastery Grading gives students and parents specific feedback about what skills they have and have not learned. It is information that can be used to direct learning and growth. The teacher does not just average a student’s mastery scores, but instead assesses the student’s level of mastery based on the evidence collected. For example, if a student earns evidence scores of 1,1,2 and 4 in a particular essential skill, the teacher may assign them a “4” if they feel that the student has mastered the concept – and the student is not penalized for taking longer to achieve mastery. >> More Info
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. In recent years, Da Vinci students have visited USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, Harvey Mudd, UC Irvine, Cal Tech, UC San Diego, and many other campuses.
Job shadow days provide 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.
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 participate in at least 5 school events per year, including Back to School Night, Exhibition Night, Family Association Meetings, etc. There is no volunteer service commitment for the Da Vinci Innovation Academy. > More info - Family Service Commitment
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. The ratio of students to computers in each high school is 1:1.
Seminar classes (similar to electives) are practical, real-world non-core classes, some of which are co-taught by Da Vinci faculty and industry professionals. Our industry partners help us identify workplace 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: Computer Programming, Game Theory, Robotics, Vehicle Design, Flight School, Aerospace Engineering (PLTW), Digital Electronics (PLTW), Leadership, Journalism, Life Drawing, Photoshop, Work Experience, Mock Trial, Chinese, Financial Literacy, Creative Writing, Sewing, Cake Decorating, Improvisation, Yoga, CrossFit and Basketball. For a complete list of current seminar offerings, please visit our individual school web pages.
By providing support classes, 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. Employees from DIRECTV, Boeing, Northrop, and UCLA Riordan Scholars serve as mentors, meeting with students regularly to discuss their academic, personal and career goals.
At our high schools, every student is enrolled in an Advisory class. 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 Community Dialogue assemblies. Several times per month, high school 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.
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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