English Language Arts. The Curriculum for English Language Arts are adapted from the curricular modules of the Common Core, and in the future, the Next Generation Standards. In a traditional school system, students who have accrued six credits in ELA would potentially be a “junior”, so our course progression is predicated on the belief that students who have accrued six credits of English Language Arts instruction would be eligible to take the Common Core English Regents.
Mathematics. New Dawn has designed and implemented curriculum aligned to the Common Core learning standards, and in the future, the Next Generation Standards. Students take a placement exam using the Scantron series to determine where in our course offerings to begin their instruction. Currently, students work to pass the Common Core Algebra I Regents.
Social Studies. Students take a full run of Global History and Geography, United States History and Government, Civics, and Economics. The curriculum is aligned to the New York City Department of Education’s Scope and Sequence and aligned to the New York State Social Studies Framework.
Science. Students take courses in Living Environment, Chemistry, and other offerings that include electives like Forensics, Anatomy, and Horticulture. Depending on a student’s transcript history, they may take the Living Environment Regents, or the Chemistry Regents per New York State Regents Diploma requirements.
Advisory. Advisories were developed to prepare students for college, career, and civic readiness. These advisories focus on mindfulness and the New Dawn 3 R’s of responsibility, respect, and resilience.
Languages Other than English (LOTE). New Dawn currently offers Spanish and American Sign Language.
Art. Students use several trade texts for support and have access to varied mediums for expression, ranging from computer based methods to charcoal and paint.
Internships. The internship program is available to students who have earned more than 10 credits towards their diploma. Internships are offered throughout the local community and beyond, and the scope of those positions range from working at the Brooklyn Public Library and other New York City DOE After School Programs to hospitals and animal shelters. The placements are aligned to our Advisory courses, in that career development and training in “soft skills” is built through learning about role models (Leadership and Character Development) and practicing those soft skills through the interview process (Road Trip Nation). Students develop a portfolio of their work throughout the internship experience, and attend sessions to prepare them for placement which are aligned to CDOS and other content area courses. The scope of the work is reviewed annually with the Director of School Partnerships and College Readiness, the Special Education Coordinator, Advisory Teachers, Internship Coordinators, and the Principal.
Seminar. The Internship Seminar promotes critical thinking and research skills through reflecting on the internship placement. Students develop research questions and develop an extensive research paper that includes a reflection of their placement and its relationship to the question they developed, along with annotating research articles from outside sources to support their assertions. Students attend community meetings through their internship placement, interview their supervisor and also attend one special event, if offered, to further connect the importance of the internship to their advisory and content area question. The seminar prepares students for college level writing and further develops the “soft skills” required in the work place. These projects are reviewed and supported on a semester basis by the Special Education Coordinator, supporting content teachers, the Director of School Partnerships and College Readiness, and the Principal.
At New Dawn the workshop model of Instruction is used. The workshop model is consistent with a balanced approach described above and builds capacity in teachers to differentiate instruction, as well as impacting classroom management. The workshop model facilitates differentiated and individualized instruction and is highly effective with at-risk populations as well as with academically gifted students.
To achieve the highest levels of thinking, teachers must forgo standing in front of a classroom and lecturing, moving towards using more authentic involvement of students. By changing the paradigm of teacher-centered instruction to a model whereby students proactively participate in the instruction through discussion and collaboration, the workshop model allows students to engage more fully in higher order skills. It also allows students who are struggling with proficiency to participate with at- and above-grade level peers.
Teachers work with each group as needed in guided instruction addressing their needs. Key to the success of the workshop model is the use of assessment. Teachers use data to inform both individual conferencing with students as well as in the groupings of students for guided instruction. This process promotes individualized instruction, as well as the development of positive classroom culture. When students have issues, or come to class late, or have trouble understanding the content, the workshop model allows students to discreetly address these issues with their teacher without being in the spotlight of their peers. The workshop model allows teachers and students to work together to get at the core of their deficiencies and overcome negative connotations they may harbor with not understanding content. Using the workshop model aids in breaking down these walls and gives students opportunity to build their skills and trust their instructions in getting them to mastery level.
Advisory Curriculum. The advisory program at the school is a major part of our instructional program and charter. Our belief is that students who are getting support emotionally will persist through barriers that their lives place in front of them. We connect our students through the advisory program to the school community and then the community at large through their internships. The Advisory Curriculum prepares our students how to develop social skills (also known as the soft skills of the work environment), and problem solving techniques. The Advisory Curriculum is discussed at length in Benchmark Two. Participation in the advisory curriculum demonstrates that New Dawn students come to school and stay with us.
Internship Program. The Internship Program serves as an important component of developing relationships with the community at large. Students with 10 or more credits participate in Internships. The students work with two Internship Coordinators, their Advisory teacher and the Director of School Partnerships and College Readiness to achieve success in their placement.
Mentoring Program. Students need more than the Advisory Curriculum and the Internship Program for social-emotional support. All students in New Dawn have a mentor at the school. The mentor works with this student to discuss issues that may be preventing the student from being successful in school or if there is an issue at home. Students can see the mentor about scheduling issues, attendance issues, or just one-on-one support on a variety of personal issues. Mentors reach out to students who have not come to school, or are having trouble in their classes.
Peer Mediation. When students cannot solve a conflict on their own, they may participate in a peer mediation session with the Special Education Coordinator and selected peers. Under their supervision, this program allows students to work through the conflict using a peer mediation protocol. This process is effective in that students allow each other to be heard and work through the problem and reach agreements about how they will interact in and out of school. Students who participate sign a contract with each on the terms of their agreement.
Counseling Services. Many New Dawn students receive counseling as per their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Students meet with social workers and counselors based on these IEP designations. In addition, students who do not have mandated counseling may make an appointment with our counselors and social workers at any time.
Other School Activities. New Dawn is dedicated to supporting the whole student, which includes developing programs and partnerships with outside organizations such as Discover Outdoors for different learning experiences. Our students have camped, fished and have gone rock climbing. In addition to these excursions, our students can attend various field trips with their classes and as a school. Other activities include student recognition events such as our quarterly honor roll breakfast, and our senior events which include a senior class trip, prom and graduation. Our basketball team has been in the playoffs, and helps connect our students to team spirit and camaraderie.
Progressive Discipline Policy. While discipline may not seem to be a social emotional support, ones such as New Dawn’s definitely are supports. We knew before we opened the struggles students would be working with. One of these struggles would be lack of success at traditional schools based on behavior. Students experiencing this will actively break rules and attempt to be disruptive. This group of students have experienced so much trauma, they push all help away. By allowing students to understand what the rules are, allow them opportunities to attempt to be pushed away, and providing an accepting environment, students are able to learn how to control their behavioral impulses over time. How these behaviors play out looks messy when not accustom to the model, but it is necessary when working with this group of students. Once this group of students have been allowed to act out, have had the time necessary to develop relationships with adults in the building, build a budding trust, then you can begin the real work of dealing with inappropriate behavior. Our policy allows for this process.