Our unique “Specials” rotation allows us to achieve an important two-fold purpose.
First, all students have weekly specialized instruction in a rotating two-hour block including Visual And Performing Arts (VAPA), Computer Lab, Science Lab, and Library. Instruction during Specials focuses on hands-on, interactive enrichment and supports learning in the regular classroom setting in a particularly engaging manner and has extended opportunities not typically available in other public elementary schools due to budgetary constraints.
Second, while students rotate through Specials, teachers meet together in Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) to work together in areas that advance student achievement such as curriculum and lesson design, assessment data analysis and strengthening understanding and instructional techniques tied to the new state standards. This dual opportunity would not be possible at Silver Strand Elementary without the direct support of the Coronado Schools Foundation (CSF), whose contributions via the community through CSF directly fund staffing our entire Specials program.
More specific information regarding each Special follows:
Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA)
Students receive instruction in visual art, vocal music, and drama. Annual performances such as our Winter Musical Program are also coordinated by our VAPA teacher. Coronado Unified School District is an ArtsEmpower district, with a strategic plan for supporting equal access to quality standards-based arts instruction in all schools in Dance, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts. CUSD is working hard to provide a standards-based sequential course of study in all arts areas for students in all grades.
The State of California defines a balanced, comprehensive arts program as one in which the arts are studied as discrete disciplines related to each other and, when appropriate, integrated with other subject areas in the curriculum. Students in a comprehensive program are expected to master the content of an arts discipline as outlined in the California Arts Standards.
Silver Strand students in grades TK-5th visit the Computer Lab a minimum of once per week to work on important 21st Century computing and learning skills. Early grades are learning digital citizenship, basic computer navigation, and using programs like Ticket to Read to personalize their instruction. Students in grades 2-5 continue learning digital citizenship, and begin touch typing skills via Edu-Typing, an online learning module that teaches at each individual students’ pace. All students in grades 2-5 learn to use Haiku Learning, our full suite of cloud-based digital learning tools, as well as learning about and using a multitude of tools within Google Drive. Finally, students will also receive exposure to the Digital Content Portal for practicing research skills online. Lessons are aligned to national “ISTE” computer standards as well as Common Core standards when applicable. Our aim in the Computer Lab is to put 21st Century learning tools into the hands of capable and responsible student users.
Tied to our district’s commitment to advancing STEM instruction and focuses on teaching the scientific method and conducting lab-type experiments such as dissecting owl pellets and growing and observing crystals. Additionally, our Science Lab teachers are in the process of developing engineering units of study for all grade levels that involve exposure to activities tied to the demonstration of small navy submersibles known as SeaPerches and building bridges out of straws.
Acquisition of library skills, such as learning about sections of the library and how to use the electronic card catalog are enhanced, and a love of reading encouraged during instruction provided by our library tech who also works closely with teachers to support literacy instruction ongoing in the classroom. Read alouds and check-out time for students are also a regular feature of this Special, and our library tech also coordinates our intermediate grade technology-based independent reading program.
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