Odyssey’s unique school design is grounded in extant research which serves as the foundation for our educational program and classroom methodologies. By taking the foundational elements of this research and adapting to meet our students’ needs, we are able to ensure our students grow and develop within the context of our three educational domains of academic excellence, social emotional wellbeing, and social responsibility. Furthermore, we also recognize the importance of parental involvement and support in students’ success which we also outlined in this section.

Constructivist Learning Theory
Constructivism is a "viewpoint in learning theory which holds that individuals acquire knowledge by building it from innate capabilities interacting with the environment" (Houston, 1995, p. 64). Constructivist theory posits that as students learn, they do not simply memorize or adopt others' conceptions of reality but instead, create their own meaning and understanding of material being taught. Odyssey’s experiential-based school design acknowledges learning best occurs when the students derive their own understanding through learning experiences. Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget’s extensive research guides the educational program’s core belief of developmentally appropriate learning based on a students’ individual age and stage (Piaget, 1952).

Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Educational theorist Howard Gardner has pioneered the field of multiple intelligences which emphasizes different ways of knowing and being smart. This research has led to the understanding that intelligence can occur in at least seven different domains, each at varying degrees-- from musical intelligence, to interpersonal intelligence (Gardner, 1983). To access students' prior knowledge, abilities and skills, teachers should use a variety of approaches in both instruction and assessment (Gardner, 1993) (Viadero, 1994). This research guides Odyssey’s commitment to establishing a learning environment, learning process and an educational program which honors individual learning styles and abilities.

Social Emotional Intelligence
Social emotional development provides the platform for learning and development of self-reflection and effective problem solving (Cohen, 2001; Gardner H., Feldman, D. H. & Krechevsky, M., 1998; Goleman, 1995). It describes the ability to motivate ourselves toward a positive goal, to understand and manage our own emotions and impulses, to handle the emotions of others, and to build positive relationships. These skills enhance the problem solving and decision-making abilities of students, improve their relationship satisfaction, and maximize their potential in school. Ultimately, it creates a fundamental shift in the structure of the school toward collaboration, inclusion, and humanism.

Multiage and Looping Classrooms
When analyzed through the lens of social context, cognitive development has been well documented and linked to the construction of knowledge (Bruner, 1973; Piaget, 1952; Vygotsky, 1978). This research has been instrumental in providing a foundation for multiage and looping groupings which support educational environments with multi-year relationships or two or more grades per classroom. Both the looping classroom and multiage classroom allow students the flexibility to progress at their own pace along a continuum of learning. Additionally, multi-year relationships between teacher and student create a familiarity with the social emotional health of a student and provides for deeper understanding of the “whole child” to guide instructional decisions. By offering multiage and/or looping classrooms, the educational program is not restricted to age or grade-specific instruction; instead, individual students work through course work at their own pace within the multiage or looping grouping.

Instructional Methodologies & Approaches

Workshop Format Instruction
The workshop format provides an organized and predictable instructional structure where teachers are viewed as mentors and models. In the workshop environment, students learn and practice new strategies, develop understanding and explore questions using prior and personal experience as scaffolds to creatively integrate new knowledge. Teachers confer, stimulate, and question as they work with whole groups, small groups and individual students to personalize instruction. The workshop model may also include self-reflection, projects or presentation of accomplishments.

 

California State Standards
The California Common Core State Standards (CA CCSS), History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools, Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools (NGSS), and the California English Language Development (ELD) Standards serve as guiding documents which provide the instructional content of our curricula.

 

Parental Involvement
All members of the Odyssey community are expected to be fully engaged in a variety of ways in their child’s education. While it is understood each family will participate differently, all families are expected to be involved in the following ways:

  • Participate in their child’s learning by attending parent/teacher meetings, attending classroom celebrations, ensuring students arrive to school on time daily, provide a time, environment and support for homework, and stay in contact with the school and teacher at all times
  • Financially support the school by giving to the Annual Campaign or supporting the various fundraisers held throughout the year
  • Volunteer in a classroom, on a committee, or serve in a leadership capacity with the Odyssey Governing Board, Odyssey School Site Council, or the Odyssey Parent Participation Group
  • Attend and support any of the events, meetings, and activities hosted throughout the year. Community is one of our strengths, and parent support is critical to the continued success of the school

 

Technology in Learning & Teaching
Technology is a tool which is used to support the learning and teaching process. Via an integrated approach, teachers are able to enhance their practice with available technologies with the goal of supporting student learning. Technology at Odyssey enriches the workshop approach, supports in-class demonstrations, and serves as a tool for teaching information literacy, critical thinking, independent and life-long learning, and social responsibility.

Teachers use technology as a tool to assist in differentiating instruction and ensure the needs of our diverse community of learners are met. In a broader level, technology will be used to foster independent learning, offer individualized instruction, provide interactive hands-on experiences, and support our interdisciplinary thematic framework and teach important skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century.

Furthermore, technology is utilized as an evaluation and data collection tool to monitor student learning and progress. In the near future, technology will serve as the platform by which all students will complete statewide assessments such as the CAASPP or other statewide adopted standardized test.

Attendance
School attendance is a critical part of achieving success with our educational model. Throughout the past ten years, Odyssey has continued increasing its Average Daily Attendance (ADA) through an engaging curriculum, staff intervention, and ongoing parent communication. Consequently, we can report a measured improvement in our attendance data for this period from 93% in 2008, to nearly 97% in 2012.

Plan for Independent Study
Odyssey may, on a case-by-case basis, use short-term independent study contracts for students who receive prior approval for absences due to travel, extended illness, or another cause of three or more days in duration. Any such independent study will be limited to occasional, incidental instances of extended absences, and will be fully compliant with all independent study statutes and regulations applicable to charter schools.

If the Charter School provides instruction through independent study on an incidental basis, it will comply with all requirements of statutes applicable to independent study in charter schools, including Education Code Section 51745, et seq., and applicable regulations. The Charter School maintains its Independent Study Board Policy and Master Agreement on file at the school site; these will be made available to the County upon request.

References

Bruner, J. S. (1973). Beyond the Information Given: Studies in the Psychology of Knowing. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

California Department of Education. (1999). English-Language Development Standards for California Public Schools. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education.

California Department of Education. (2000). History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools Kindergarten through Grade Twelve. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education.

California Department of Education. (2013). The Next Generation Science Standards. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education.

Cohen, J. (2001). Caring Classrooms/Intelligent Schools: The Social Emotional Education of Young Children. New York: Teachers College press.

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

Gardner, H. F. (1998). Building on children's strengths: The experience of project spectrum. New York: Teachers College Press.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. New York: Bantam Books.

Houston, J. (. (1995). Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors. Phoenix, AZ: Orynx Press.

Northeast Foundation for Children, Inc (NEFC). (2007). Responsive Classoom: Level I Resource Book. Turner Falls, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children, Inc.

Piaget, J. (1952). The Origins of Intelligence in Children. New York: International University Press.

Viadero, D. (1994, Febryary 2). A world of difference. Education Week, pp. 24-26.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.