Our School.

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Overview

We believe students learn best when content is connected to real-world issues and needs, and thus espouse a student-centered1, interdisciplinary teaching philosophy based on Expeditionary Learning and Learning Through Music (LTM). El Sistema will provide a well-rounded education through music, complemented by physical education.

In alignment with the New York State CCLS, including compliance with and successful completion of the New York State Testing Program assessments, WHIN’s enriched educational programs and curricula will ensure our diverse student population meets New York State CCLS. For these reasons, WHIN will provide a curriculum and instruction plan to meet and exceed ‘achievement indicators for academic trends toward proficiency and high school graduation’ as detailed in Benchmark 1 of the NYSED Charter School Performance Framework.2

Curriculum

The backbone of the WHIN framework is the belief that students learn best when presented with a cross curricular, rigorous, inquiry-driven, and data-driven experience directly connected to Common Core State Standards, and differentiated for each learner’s unique needs while developing his/her social-emotional and character skills.

We will use a school wide, sequential, and cross-curricular Understanding By Design (UbD) approach that promotes a rigorous, inquiry-driven, project-based academic curriculum. This framework will be overseen by the Directors of Curriculum and Instruction and developed in partnership with the schools teachers, and draws upon the successful data-supported curriculum of the Conservatory Lab Charter School.

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English Language Arts

WHIN takes a balanced literacy approach and will use EL Education’s K-5 English Language Arts curriculum, which is a comprehensive, standards-based core literacy program that engages teachers and students through compelling, real-world content.

Mathematics

At WHIN, students experience math through a lens of fun, exciting discovery. Math units are not taught in isolation, but rather multiple skills and standards are interwoven to create rich tasks and scenarios for learners, and standards are revisited throughout the year to ensure student mastery. Deep conceptual understanding is reached through concrete and hands-on experience.

El Sistema

El Sistema is a unique social program that was founded in Venezuela over forty years ago by Jose Antonia Abreu. The goal is to effect social change through intensive daily ensemble music education. Working in an ensemble enables all children to experience being an asset to their community. The El Sistema philosophy engenders an ambitious pursuit of musical, academic, and life success through the following core values:

  • Every human being has the right to a life of dignity and contribution, filled with beauty.
  • Every child can learn to experience and express music and art deeply, can receive its many benefits, and can make different critical life choices as a result of this learning.
  • Overcoming poverty and adversity is best done by strengthening the spirit, creating, as Dr. Abreu puts it, “an affluence of the spirit,” and investing that affluence as a valued asset in a community endeavor to create excellence and beauty in music.
  • Effective education is based on love, approval, joy, and consistently successful experiences within a high-functioning, aspiring, nurturing community. Every child has limitless possibilities and the ability to strive for excellence. “Trust the young,” informs every aspect of the work.
  • Learning organizations never arrive but are always becoming—striving to include: more students, deeper impact, greater musical excellence, better teaching, improved tools, more joy. Thus, flexibility, experimentation, risk-taking, and collegial exchange are inherent aspects of every program.

Music

At WHIN Music Community Charter School, “music” is literally our middle name. WHIN offers two periods of ensemble music a day, five days a week, for all students, based in El Sistema’s principles of music as a vehicle for inclusion and social change.

Science and Social Studies

Our Science and Social Studies curriculum will be aligned with the New York State Learning Standards, including the standards of the New York State Testing Program for Science and Social Studies, the Common Core literacy standards for K-6 Science and Social studies strands, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Physical Education and Healthy Living

Aligned with New York State (NYS) standards our Physical Education (P.E) curriculum will be part of a holistic and balanced physical, health, and wellness education. Teaching children how to respect, develop, and take care of their physical health is just as important as teaching academic content. WHIN sees regular physical activity as well as learning about our bodies, wellness, and health as a way to live a healthy and balanced life. With this philosophy in mind all WHIN students will have 150 minutes of P.E. as well as 80 minutes of recess throughout the week.

Culture

The motto of El Sistema is “Tocar y Luchar,” which means, “To play and to strive.” El Sistema in Venezuela is a socially conscious youth development program that has enabled hundreds of thousands of youth to view themselves as “assets within the community.” In the tradition of the El Sistema, WHIN strives to create a positive learning environment where all members feel welcome.

WHIN will use the evidence-based practices of Responsive Classroom to develop a school-wide school culture drawn heavily upon the following three core values of El Sistema as described by Eric Booth:3

Every child can learn to experience and express music and art deeply, can receive its many benefits, and can make different critical life choices as a result of this learning

Effective education is based on love, approval, joy, and consistently successful experiences within a high-functioning, aspiring, nurturing community

Every child has limitless possibilities and the ability to strive for excellence; overcoming poverty and adversity is best done by strengthening the spirit, creating, and investing that affluence as a valued asset in a community endeavor to create excellence and beauty in music

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This Means:

Everyone at WHIN must show each other respect.

Diversity is considered a treasure because everyone can learn from the differences that others bring.

This value ties directly into our school inclusion policy for Students with Disabilities and English Language Learning students.

WHIN strives to provide the least restrictive environment possible and make accommodations to learning activities so all students can equal access to curriculum.

The WHIN Anti-Bullying Plan will ensure that students treat each other with respect, and that teachers and families work in partnership to prevent and eliminate bullying.

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WHIN Ways of Being

WHIN is committed to developing students holistically and authentically; instead of setting aside a specified time to perform character development, WHIN integrates elements of character strengthening within all content areas.

Specifically, we aim to create students who are:

Lifelong and Life-wide Effective Learners

How we learn together

Empathetic, Compassionate Community Members

How we treat each other

Agents of Social Change

How we impact our community

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Within each of these larger categories, we include a rich variety of well-researched factors that contribute to long-term academic and personal success. El Sistema has long-incorporated skills and abilities outside of musicianship into its teaching and practice, and we draw from the successes and work accomplished around the world in the El Sistema movement to ensure WHIN students are given not just the highest quality instruction and academic development but also the tools necessary to experience a rich, fulfilling life. Staff members at WHIN also embody these qualities and serve as models for one another and our young learners.

Lifelong and Life-wide Effective Learners - How we learn together

Responsibility

  • We take ownership of our learning, our actions, and our physical space.

Self-Control

  • We stay focused and in control of our actions to accomplish our goals.

Growth Mindset

  • We know that we can improve with effort and hard work.

Perseverance

  • We challenge ourselves and keep trying.

Resource Seeking

  • We seek out people and resources to guide our learning.

Collaboration

  • We work well with others to complete a shared goal.

Curiosity

  • We show curiosity by asking questions and seeking answers.

Zest

  • We show enthusiasm about our learning and eagerness to learn more because our work has value to us!
Empathetic, Compassionate Community Members - How we treat each other

Empathy

  • We try to see things from another person’s point of view. We think about other people’s feelings before acting.

Respect

  • We treat ourselves, others, and the environment with care.

Gratitude

  • We appreciate one another.

Diversity

  • We seek to understand individuals around us, including those who are different from us and appreciate different points of view.
Agents of Social Change - How we impact our community

Integrity

  • We do the right thing even when it is hard.

Service

  • We use our strengths to help others grow.

Artistry

  • We make music that is based in and for our community.
  • We make music that creates/raises awareness, understanding, and reflection of social issues.

Initiative

  • We notice what needs to be done and do it.
  • We use our learning to inform how we take thoughtful action in our school, the community, the environment, and the world.

Each and every day, WHIN students engage in rich experiences that develop their capacity to problem solve, understand, and strive to become better versions of themselves.

Inclusion

As a Child-Centered School, our main goal will be to ensure each student is safe and supported to succeed: With that as a foundation, each student can develop his/her academic, musical, emotional and social skills, so he/she can become a leader in his/her community, a role model for others, and a positive citizen. To achieve this goal of inclusion, WHIN will use the following strategies:

Co-Teaching Model

All classes will be staffed with two certified teachers, including at least one with SPED and/or ESL certification. Co-teaching will allow for smaller teacher-student ratios and for teachers to better meet the individualized needs of special education, general education, and ELL students.

 

Co-teaching will allow the flexibility of different teaching models.4 The benefits of Co-teaching are numerous, including improvements in professional growth, instruction, differentiation; student access to teachers; behavior management; student engagement; time on task; students’ sense of belonging; acceptance of diversity, and higher expectations.5

Inclusionary Model of Instruction

We will ensure that ELLs, students with special needs and FRPL students have equal access to the curriculum and quality instruction. Our school will have School-Wide Sheltered English Instruction for ELLs due to the high percentage of ELLs6 (31% in CSD 6, see section I.D.). WHIN will have two certified ESL teachers beginning in the first year (one per grade), and all of our teachers will be trained in language acquisition techniques (drawn from both the SIOP and QTEL models)7 to improve ELLs’ achievement.

 

Special Education teachers will follow a multi-tiered Response to Intervention (RTI) model that will be reinforced by related service providers (occupational, physical, and speech therapy services). Our combined push-in/pullout model ensures our students will receive the necessary services while having equal access to curriculum.

Responsive Classroom

At WHIN, the social-emotional development of students is just as important as their academic and musical development. Teachers will be trained in Responsive Classroom, a research-based approach that gives teachers concrete practices to ensure a high-quality education for every child every day.8 These practices will help them actively impart strategies for resolving conflicts and politely interacting with peers through formal (morning meetings) and informal practices (positive teacher language).

1.  B. McCombs & J.S. Whistler, The Learner-Centered Classroom and School: Strategies for Increasing Student Motivation and Achievement. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publihsers, (1997).
2.  New York State Board of Regents State Education Department, Charter School Performance Framework. Albany, New York, (2015)
3.  E Booth, The Fundamentals of El Sistema: Which Inform and Guide El Sistema-inspired Programs, ericbooth.net, Jan 2012, http://ericbooth.net/the-fundamentals-of-el-sistema/
4.  Honigsfield, A and M G Dove (2015). Collaboration and Co-Teaching for English Learners: A Leader’s Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage Publications, 65-66. Anderson, RB, R Isherwood, and J Merhaut (2013), Strategic Co-Teaching in Your School: Using the Co-design Model, Baltimore, MD, Brookes Publishing, 113.
5.  Benninghof, A. (2012). Co-Teaching That Works: Structures & Strategies for Maximizing Student Learning. San Fran, CA, Jossey Bass, 10-13.
6.  New York State Education Department (2014). NYC GEOG DIST # 6 – MANHATTAN Enrollment (2013 – 14). http://data.nysed.gov/enrollment.php?year=2014&instid=800000047032
7.  Honigsfield, A and M G Dove (2015). Collaboration and Co-Teaching for English Learners: A Leader’s Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage Publications.
8.  https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/sites/default/files/pdf_files/RC_approach_White_paper.pdf

© 2018 WHIN Music Community Charter School

info@whinmusic.org

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