Foundational Fluencies & Deeper Learning Concepts
What do we teach and learn at Khan Lab School?
Our students achieve foundational fluency in reading, writing, math, world languages, and computer programming. In Middle & Upper School, science is a foundational fluency as well.
All students are also exposed to deeper learning concepts in wellness, integrated arts, integrated science, civics, finance, global societies, economics, and statistics.
Learning and advancing through our curriculum happens when each student has fully mastered target objectives, concepts, and skills. In most schools, time spent learning is constant while the quality and level of content mastery varies. At KLS, the opposite is true: learning time is variable — but the quality and level of mastery for all students is constant.
Our mastery-based curriculum includes:
In Lower School, students learn how to read for deeper meaning through collaborative discussion of a wide range of texts. Students begin to understand themes and main ideas and are able to identify different genres and structures. They also practice asking and answering questions to facilitate understanding and learn to support their arguments with evidence from the text. The primary tools utilized in Lower School Language Arts are Quill, Lexia, and Newsela.
In addition, students work on individualized term-long projects to develop their writing craft. Students learn style, organization, and content. Emphasis on continual revision and peer and mentor feedback not only fosters a growth mindset, but provides an application-based avenue for students to learn grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
In Middle & Upper School, students focus on how to:
- Cite textual evidence to support inferences, conclusions, predictions, and generalizations.
- Identify the theme or central idea of the text.
- Explain how literary elements and devices contribute to the theme.
- Provide objective summary of text distinguishing between objective details and subjective opinions.
- Describe how characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
- Identify the stages of plot, including exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
- Determine the meaning of the words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings.
- Analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.
- Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator in a text.
Middle School ELA is blended with Humanities, so students are not only mastering ELA concepts (connected to Common Core Standards), but they are also opening their global and historical perspectives by layering Social Studies or Humanities concepts on top of their ELA concepts. Students work on concept-connected vocabulary, participate in group discussions, complete content challenges, receive direct instruction, and may participate in one-on-ones with the English & Humanities Content Specialist.
Students consistently practice their public speaking skills. They master the writing process in three major writing styles: narrative, informational, and argumentative. Students also engage in a thoughtful reading curriculum that balances informational texts with literature. Each of these root ELA concepts is approached with a Humanities concept lens, such as "Being and Becoming," "Culture," or "Citizenship." ELA/Humanities is also directly connected to studio projects, where students can showcase their knowledge of concepts introduced, taught, practiced, and discussed in class.
Math at KLS includes direct instruction, content challenges, individualized tutoring, and studio projects that require demonstration of concept knowledge. We utilize Khan Academy Math for our self-paced math program, which covers all of Common Core – you can view Khan Academy's Common Core Math Map here. This personalized, blended learning is supported by small-group and one-on-one lessons with our STEM Content Specialists.
While the standards may be common, we know that students are not – they each have their own learning journey. This is why we are committed to personalized learning that lets students practice what they most need help on, at their own pace, at absolutely no cost.
Khan Academy has grade-level "missions" aligned to the Common Core. Each student has their own learning dashboard that uses state-of-the-art, adaptive software to identify gaps and show progress. Students also receive fun badges, energy points, and avatars along their grade-level "mission."
Students, teachers, and parents are empowered with instant data to track students' progress over time. Our Content Specialists are able to quickly identify which students need more one-on-one attention and which students are meeting their personal goals.
In Lower School, students work toward personalized goals based on Tynker and Khan Academy. They learn programming basics, build robots, mod Minecraft, and eventually progress to creating interactive webpages using jQuery. Game-based, self-paced tools foster a passion for problem-solving in our students and build creative confidence.
In Middle and Upper School, students develop solutions using their knowledge of programming. They set goals for personalized projects and use computing to strengthen their skills in inquiry, analysis, synthesis, diagnosis, innovation, reasoning, and managing complexity.
In Middle & Upper School, Science includes Labster virtual laboratories, visits to IndieBio, direct instruction from our STEM Content Specialist, content challenges, and studio projects that require demonstration of concept knowledge. We ensure our students are familiar with cutting-edge science and technology.
In all Independence Levels, a key component of our Science curriculum is QuantumCamp. These hands-on lab activities take place each week at KLS, allowing each of our students to learn STEM through hands-on experiences. Just like our full-time team, QuantumCamp teachers take a concept-based approach to learning, building skills and teaching content in pursuit of understanding a concept. Each course is designed in context so that the labs act as sequential stories building upon knowledge from previous labs.
At KLS, we value learning through investigation. Students construct meaning by designing, conducting, and reflecting on scientific investigations. The scientific process, which encourages hands-on experience, inquiry, and critical thinking, enables students to make informed and responsible decisions, not only in science but also in other areas of life.
Our students are provided opportunities to work individually and with their peers to learn about science within and beyond the classroom. They develop safe and responsible working habits in practical science. The knowledge, skills, and attitudes that students develop in sciences courses provide a meaningful foundation for further study and help to prepare students for careers in academic and corporate research, as laboratory assistants and managers, in scientific consultancy for a range of companies and NGOs, in teaching, in fieldwork and journalism.
We currently offer Spanish, French, and Mandarin. Families also have the option to attend parent-funded language options during Extended Day, such as Hindi. Our Foreign Language Content Specialists focus on teaching...
- Conversational and cooperative interactions, which come to life during the school day as skits, dialogues, and video communications.
- Foundations for understanding oral language, such as music and tongue twisters.
- Foundations in literacy. Students have pen pals in other countries, write op-eds, read books, practice working with a dictionary, and learn grammatical structures and patterns.
- Cultural exposure and broadened perspective: our students take field trips, host celebrations, cook, and makes arts and crafts relevant to the study of each language. They learn the value of speaking another language and spend time seeing the world from a different point of view.
Students have Inner and Outer Wellness twice each week. Inner Wellness includes music, art, and mindfulness, and Outer Wellness is physical fitness and nutrition led by GrowFit. GrowFit's physical education program aligns with our school's commitment to mastery-based learning and allows for differentiated instruction. Each unit contains a series of levels that are comprised of skill instruction, practice tasks, and group games. As students progress through each level in the unit, they establish a foundation of motor skills and begin to combine and apply those motor skills in context.