Odyssey follows the California Common Core State Standards (CA CCSS), CA Standards for History-Social Science, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in its core curricula. Adhering to this framework is the most direct strategy to help students develop skills competency and mastery of the CA CCSS at each grade level. Additionally, curriculum is taught strategically in a sequential manner to ensure students master particular skills and knowledge at designated points in time, building early skills as the foundation for more complex higher-order skills and knowledge. To assess learning, core curriculum area assessments are administered at multiple points; at the beginning of a unit of study, throughout the unit of study and at the end of the unit of study. This multi-point approach helps teachers gauge student progress toward mastery of the CA CCSS and informs teacher instructional methods and intervention strategies needed to ensure learning and student success.
English Language Arts & Literacy Curriculum
Odyssey implements a balanced literacy approach to instruction in English Language Arts. The balanced literacy program is composed of Reader’s Workshop, Writer’s Workshop, and Word Study, all of which are aligned with the California Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy.
Odyssey utilizes a Reader’s Workshop approach to the teaching of reading developed by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Odyssey’s faculty work to provide a balanced literacy program which incorporates multiple instructional methods to ensure students are proficient in the area of reading. In Reader’s Workshop, teachers provide direct and explicit-strategy instruction balanced with independent reading time. The structure and strategies used in the workshop model remain consistent throughout grade levels, allowing for adaptation based on students’ academic growth and development. Odyssey’s curriculum is designed to create a school-wide culture where reading is celebrated.
Odyssey utilizes a Writer’s Workshop approach to the teaching of writing developed by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Our Writer’s Workshop model engages students in learning the craft of writing through its sequential approach through the multiple stages of the writing process from prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and culminating in publishing. Teachers instruct multiple writing genres aligned with the CA CCSS. The development of individual writing styles and understanding of formal written and oral conventions of the English language are also addressed in Writer’s Workshop.
Writer’s Workshop is a structured and predictable environment in which Odyssey students’ personal life experiences are valued and respected as an essential part of the craft of writing. Students are directed to reflect on their lives and find the things which matter to them. In the workshop the teacher is a mentor who regularly models what is asked of the student-writers. The human need to socialize and converse is valued as students and teachers interact to exchange ideas, goals, and advice. Thus, a spirit of collaboration becomes an essential part of the workshop environment.
Odyssey’s math curriculum focuses on activities which give students concentrated practice in basic skills while deepening their critical thinking. These skills are extended via activities which involve learning beyond the classroom and are oftentimes integrated into other curricular areas, such as science, social studies, language arts and even morning meetings. By extending mathematical ideas beyond the classroom walls, we encourage students to become lifelong mathematicians. The CA CCSS in the area of Mathematics serve as the guide to address all content taught and to create a school-wide culture where math is celebrated. Some of the hallmarks of math workshop include the direct instruction, independent work time, the use of manipulatives, math games, and real world connections.
History-Social Science Curriculum
In order to develop global citizens and agents of change, it is important for Odyssey students to develop a strong sense of the historical, social, economic, and political trends which have shaped the world. To best achieve this, the history-social science curriculum blends the study of American history, world history, government, geography, and economics. By incorporating history-social science with reading and writing, teachers use stories, fairytales, folk tales, historical fiction and nonfiction references which directly relate to the concept at hand. By listening to, reading, and discussing literary works, students deepen their historical knowledge and develop a sense of ethical literacy. Overall, the history-social science curriculum is developed with the aim of mastering the History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (California Department of Education, 2000).
An integrated approach to history-social science is used as a way to bring history-social science content to life and deepen students’ understanding of the content and to connect learning across content areas. This integrated approach enables students to have authentic opportunities to think critically, develop informed opinions, research topics to express their ideas in both oral and written format, and effectively listen to differing opinions.
Students’ innate curiosity and desire to understand their world serves as a foundation for the scientific inquiry based approach to Odyssey’s science curriculum. The science curriculum models the way scientists conduct research and experiments in the real world, incorporating a true inquiry based approach to learning and discovery. Science instruction for students in the primary and upper grades will fall into the areas of Earth Science, Life Science, Physical Science and Investigation and Experimentation. In the middle grades, science instruction will include the four prior areas but at a greater depth of knowledge and an increased focus toward inquiry-based learning. By the end of eighth grade, students will have the skills to be independent problem solvers with strong critical thinking, writing and reading skills, and the ability to implement student-created scientific experiments. Odyssey’s science curriculum is grounded in the Next Generation Science Standards (California Department of Education, 2013).