At DAA, our classroom instruction focuses on developing and nurturing the the whole child. We do this through a commitment to mastery of knowledge and skills, character development, and high-quality student work. Detroit Achievement Academy is proud to be an Expeditionary Learning school. Expeditionary Learning is based on the following design principles:
Learning happens best with emotion, challenge, and the requisite support.
Teaching in Expeditionary Learning schools fosters curiosity about the world.
Learning is both a personal process of discovery and a social activity.
Learning is fostered best in communities where students' and teachers' ideas are respected and where there is mutual trust.
All students need to be successful if they are to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges.
Individual development and group development are integrated so that the value of friendship, trust, and group action is clear.
Both diversity and inclusion increase the richness of ideas, creative power, problem-solving ability, and respect for others.
A direct and respectful relationship with the natural world refreshes the human spirit and teaches the important ideas of recurring cycles and cause and effect.
Students and teachers need time alone to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections, and create their own ideas.
Students and teachers are strengthened by acts of consequential service to others.
Our innovative learning expeditions allow us to teach all subjects through the lens of a broader topic, so students learn in the context of the community and the world in which they live. Through learning expeditions, students engage in fieldwork, community service, and work with experts to complete in-depth studies in one or more subject areas. Expeditions culminate with projects and exhibitions that demonstrate mastery of standards. Teachers teach character separately, but also work to integrate our Habits of Character into academic learning subjects daily and in an authentic way.
At Detroit Achievement Academy, teachers plan two learning expeditions per school year. Students embark on rigorous, authentic, standards based learning experiences based around high interest science and social studies topics. Below is a summary of a second grade expedition.
2nd Grade Expedition Summary: Detroit Heroes of the Past and Present
Second graders will answer the question, “How can a citizen make a positive impact on a community?” Second grade students will explore the community through the lens of two key innovators of the past to set the stage for exploring the role that current innovators are playing to create positive change in Detroit. Using a framework common to narrative nonfiction, students will identify the ways in which people solve problems to make the community stronger. They will begin by discovering the inventors and innovators who shaped Detroit’s history—Henry Ford and Elijah McCoy—through fieldwork at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village and shared and independent close reading of biographies. Students will become familiar with the tools that help us to understand history: timelines, maps, artifacts, and other primary and secondary sources. In the second case study, students will use these tools to identify strengths and challenges in the current community. They will then seek out current Detroit citizens who are innovating to address these challenges and make the community a wonderful place to live!
Using the framework for narrative nonfiction, students will interview a current Detroit citizen who is solving a problem in the community and write a biography sharing their learning. These will be compiled into a class e-book, along with a photograph and portrait of each innovator at work. Students will gain a lasting understanding of how one citizen can make a big difference.
At DAA, our reading and writing program are aligned with the Common Core standards. Whenever possible, reading and writing instruction at DAA is integrated into our learning expeditions. We teach reading both through the use of authentic, high interest pieces of literature and informational text and through direct instruction in fluency and decoding skills. We believe in a balanced literacy approach, where we teach reading comprehension, phonics, fluency, and writing through the workshop model. Teachers at DAA read aloud to their students daily to develop their reading comprehension and a love of reading. Students at DAA meet in small guided reading groups, work in centers, and have time each day to read and write independently.
At DAA, we combine a constructivist approach to math with computational fluency. Our students explore math concepts in hands-on, real world ways, and our teachers guide them to construct meaning and think mathematically. We also ensure our students can perform procedural skills quickly and accurately so their minds can focus on deeper thinking and problem solving. Students at DAA not only know how to solve an algorithm, but they understand why it works.
At DAA, we believe the arts are important academic subjects to be taught on their own, as well as integrated into all the subject areas. Our students receive art every day, and our art teachers collaborate with the classroom teachers to support art integration in the classroom. We develop our students’ abilities as artists, musicians, and performers. Our focus on art will help us achieve our mission of developing our students holistically.
At DAA, we believe that our Habits of Character are an important academic subject. Our Habits of Character are taught and assessed separately from other subjects, as well as integrated throughout our entire day. We focus on developing the habits that will ensure our students meet our mission of being ready to succeed in life and positively change the world in any way they choose! At DAA, our Habits of Character are Responsibility, Perseverance, Compassion, Cooperation, Curiosity and Creativity, and Integrity. Every day, students meet with their "Crew" for a morning meeting to develop relationships and to practice our Habits of Character.
We use the Responsive Classroom Approach. This consists of the following principles:
The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.
How children learn is as important as what they learn.
The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
There is a set of social skills that children need in order to be successful academically and socially.
Knowing the children we teach – individually, culturally, and developmentally – is as important as knowing the content we teach.
Knowing the families of the children we teach and encouraging their participation is essential to children’s education
How the adults at school work together to accomplish their shared mission is as important as individual competencies; lasting change begins with the adult community.