K- 6 Curriculum: Acceleration is one of the cornerstones of exemplary gifted education practices, with more research supporting this intervention than any other in the literature on gifted individuals; however,gifted learners must be given stimulating educational experiences appropriate to their level of ability if they are to realize their full potential. At the Dinoff School, we strive to address all aspects of the gifted learner through general guidance including identification, policies, matching learner’s needs, to subject specific guidance on curriculum modifications for the gifted, in a broad spectrum of disciplines including Math, Science, English,Spanish, Art, and Music.
7- 12 Curriculum: All courses are based on Georgia Performance Standards; however, classroom curricula and instruction have been adapted, modified, and replaced to meet the unique needs of gifted learners. Courses that are designated as AP are college level courses that are reviewed and pre-approved through The College Board. Students are encouraged, but not required, to take the AP end of course exams towards college credit. Most important is that great care is given so that AP courses still retain elements of gifted learning.
English and Grammar: Guided practice in critical reading, analysis, and clear, effective writing can help students hone skills that will serve them throughout life. During all four years of English, students will engage in class discussion, complete frequent and varied writing assignments, and read literature of every genre. A review of grammar and mechanics, and a systematic study of vocabulary, especially in the first two years, will strengthen the foundations of future practice and will help students to prepare for standard tests. Classes of 12-14 students will allow for close interaction between student and teacher, while individual conference times shall be built into the schedule. Writing assignments will be geared to help students reason logically, to think independently and creatively, to deploy evidence persuasively and to understand the power of language used effectively. AP English will be available.
Humanities and Philosophy: Humanities courses will allow students to make connections between classical literature and contemporary texts, and will introduce students to a larger range of literary voices. Socrates claims that the purpose of philosophy is to enable the gain of self-knowledge, through conceptual clarity. Our philosophy students will take on a mission of self discovery.
Science: Students will develop an appreciation of the natural world and learn critical thinking skills through experimentation and problem solving. Further, students will explore the histories and established bodies of knowledge in each of the sciences, develop connections among the scientific disciplines, and explore the relationships between science and mathematics. Students will learn to work independently and in collaboration with others in both classroom and laboratory settings to explore and test the fundamental laws of nature. Laboratory experimentation, demonstrations, lectures, independent research, field trips and cooperative learning groups will provide a multifaceted approach toward the teaching and learning of the sciences. Study skills are stressed in all disciplines. A wide range of challenging sections is offered in each core science, including honors programs in Conceptual Physics, and Advanced Placement studies in Biology and Chemistry. Members of the science faculty are dedicated and enthusiastic educators with professional training and experience. Our science facilities include two laboratories, with ample safety equipment and supplies.
Computer Science: Computer classes will combine different levels and types of problems, and require that students combine skills learned from other disciplines, such as math and languages, to engage in higher levels of reasoning. Throughout the Computer Science curriculum, students will be required to use their sequential, logical, and organizational thinking skills to design solutions for an array of challenges.
We, at The Dinoff School, believe that technology is a tool that can not only help administer a school community but can help facilitate learning. Therefore, wireless access points can be found in many locations on campus such as: Science Labs, Computer Labs, Library, and Student Lounge. Students will be able to use their laptops almost everywhere on campus – in classrooms, common areas, hallways, and even outside.
History and Social Sciences: Students taking classes in the History and Social Science Department will become actively engaged in their studies. Events in recent history once again confirm the importance of recognizing increasing global interdependence and the demands it places on all citizens to understand the complexities of both our nation and our world. All courses in the department shall strive to examine the subject matter in order to apply the knowledge and skills acquired to understanding and participating in today’s world. The department will offer a rigorous program with a range of courses available for every student. The basic curriculum will seek to take students beyond memorization to a level of comprehension, coherence and critical thinking. Such skills will be fostered through classroom discussions generally incorporating the Socratic Method in order to bring forth diverse perspectives and interpretations. Students in all courses must harness the power of effective communication through oral, written and computer-generated presentations. Through this process students will acquire an appreciation for the past, a respect for social systems, and a sense of civic responsibility, with an ultimate department goal of fostering and encouraging a lifelong interest in the society and world in which we live. AP History will be available.
Mathematics: The importance of mathematics in the fields of science and technology is readily apparent, but mathematics also plays an integral role in fields as diverse as psychology, economics, medicine and linguistics. Accordingly, it is important for the secondary student to become well grounded in mathematics. Constant attention will be focused on helping students become critical thinkers in all areas of life through problem solving, decision making and analyzing. Emphasis will be placed on understanding mathematics as a language with its own vocabulary, symbols and syntax. Students will be encouraged to look for multiple solutions to individual problems and to explain their calculations orally.
The Mathematics Department will offer a rigorous program with a range of courses to meet the needs of individual students. Requirements for the school diploma include a year of Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Trigonometry. Beyond this basic requirement, students may elect to take courses in AP Calculus and SAT Prep. Students are given the opportunity to progress in mathematics at a rate appropriate to their aptitude.Graphing calculators and computers will be used as tools for learning and promoting understanding, not as substitutes for critical thinking. Students will be encouraged to join the school’s Math Team, which will participates in mathematics contests at the local, state, regional and national levels.
Foreign Language: The study of language encourages disciplined thinking, introduces students to different cultures and history, and makes them more aware of their own cultural heritage. Spanish courses will give students the tools to communicate with tens of millions of Spanish speakers within the United States and abroad. German, will further expand their international communication skills. Our immediate goal will be to assist the students to achieve a high level of proficiency in the four basic communication skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) that would enable them to utilize the target language with confidence. We will present themes that foster understanding and sensitivity and that have some personal significance to the students. We will do so through the comprehensive selection of textbooks, readers and authentic literature by celebrated authors. This traditional approach will be complemented and enhanced with the use of technology. Films, software, music and newspaper articles from the Internet will be brought into the classroom. In each level of learning, we will establish a student-centered classroom in which there is lively interaction and the opportunity to achieve one’s personal best. Spanish I,II,III, and AP Spanish will be available, as well as, German I and II.
Comparative Cultures: A knowledge and understanding of the diversity of the world we live in provides a broader perspective for wise decisions. This is a course of discovery. Students develop and improve critical thinking skills as they discover commonalities within the diverse cultures of the world. The course is driven by each student’s self directed research and collaboration with the class. The teacher serves as a guide, coach and facilitator for research, reading, discussion, and presentation of papers and projects.
Specific courses offered in 2011 will include but are not limited to the following:
K-6: Math, Science, English, Spanish, History, Exploratory classes, Art and Music. Classes are geared to tap into giftedness in all areas including but not limited to: Verbal Linguistic –.Logical Mathematical – Musical – Visual Spatial –Intrapersonal and Interpersonall Skills
History: Georgia History, American History, World History, Geography, AP Geography, AP World History, AP American History, U.S. Government and Politics, and Economics
Math: Pre- Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry, AP Calculus AB and BC, and SAT prep math
Foreign Languages: Spanish I, II, III, AP Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Comparative Cultures.
Science: Physical Science,Life Science, Biology I and AP Biology, Chemistry I and AP Chemistry.
Health: Health and the Human Body
English: Literature I, Literature II, Grammar and Composition I, Grammar and Composition II AP Language, Creative Writing, and SAT prep
Computers: Information Technology
Humanities and Philosophy: The Classics, Discovery of Self, Humanities
Electives: Art, Music, AP Psychology, Horticulture, and Drama
Physical Ed: Fitness, Karate,and After School Kung Fu
Instructional Strategies: The teaching staff employs strategies that have proved to be particularly effective in stimulating and motivating academically gifted students. Instructors use authentic methods of learning that promote active participation, creativity and higher order thinking skills. Such strategies include debate, construction of models, simulations, dramatic performances, legal briefs, problem solving and other demonstrations and projects that involve participatory learning at a high level.