Teaching Strategies and Methodologies Westmark students often refer to “the tricks” used at Westmark. In fact, these ‘tricks’ are the explicit strategies and methodologies used in Lower, Middle and Upper School classrooms that enable our students to actually access the curriculum and find their strengths. These same explicit strategies and methodologies engage our students so they enjoy coming to school each day.
Using the kinesthetic classroom model, students are often not in their seats, but walking, standing and moving during instruction time. Our class sizes are small and instruction is individualized so each student is taught according to his or her personal learning profile. We use a multisensory approach, so you will see teachers and students using multiple modalities as they teach and learn. We explicitly teach executive functioning skills and our students learn how to stay focused, organized, and on time.
Throughout the curriculum, teachers scaffold instruction and support for students so that they can increase their independence in academic and executive functioning skills. We support students as they become independent learners and demonstrate mastery in their academic subject areas.
And we use research–based methodologies to support the diverse learning styles of our students.
After catching a glimpse into our classrooms, we hope you will see how learning at Westmark really is different.
Each student has an educational plan summarizing the neuro-developmental strengths, affinities and areas of challenge. We are committed to the principles developed in the All Kinds of Minds® program for guiding classroom instruction, creating accommodations and interventions, and leveraging strengths.
Teachers instruct at the level of students’ skill development with the goal of achieving mastery and automaticity of essential academic skills. Academic tasks and assignments are scaffolded, and each step is explicitly taught. Instruction at every level encompasses a variety of modalities and learning styles.
A variety of formative and summative assessment tools are used in each class to direct classroom instruction and track student progress. Students are given an annual reading-language assessment. Individual R.I.T. achievement scores, corresponding goals, and percentile rankings are obtained through the “Measures of Academic Progress” (Northwest Evaluation Association), which are administered biannually to all students.
Reading teachers receive ongoing and annual training in various research-based reading programs designed for intensive intervention. All students through the 8th Grade are assessed annually in reading and language skills and placed in carefully grouped reading classes designed to address their needs. High school students are assessed when they enter the school and placed in reading classes as needed. Reading fluency is also addressed through the Read Naturally digital program.
Reading and study skills instruction is embedded in all content classes with an emphasis on organization, time management, comprehension and study strategies. Westmark has developed school-wide organization, note-taking, and test preparation systems. Teachers also utilize and receive ongoing and annual training in the University of Kansas’ Strategic Instruction Model: Content Enhancement Routines and Learning Strategies.
Students develop their writing skills in content and English classes using the Jane Schaffer Writing Program®. Teachers receive ongoing training via our professional development program. Students are also instructed in the University of Kansas’ Sentence Writing Strategy programs. Elementary teachers emphasize the six traits of writing.
Effective social skills are taught through modeling and the “social autopsy” approach developed by Rick Lavoie. Using the guidelines developed by Dr. Robert Brooks based on the principles of resilience and the charismatic adult, students are guided to build positive relationships, participate in problem solving, and practice effective self-discipline.