In an effort to provide student scholars with authentic learning opportunities, we base our instructional model on three key hallmarks: project-based learning, technology integration, service learning. Together, these hallmarks work to empower our students to be leaders and innovators in their communities.
True service learning involves students in helping to determine and meet real, defined community needs. It is reciprocal in nature, benefiting both the community and the student by combining a service experience with a learning experience. One of the foundational aspect of service learning that is frequently overlooked is the learning component. Clean up projects and school service days are not service learning, although they are very important. True service learning has to include a learning, or classroom, component that pushes students not only to take action, but also to take an academic approach to issues in their community. At YPICS, we make sure students have the opportunity to engage in service learning from an academic and an advocacy approach.
Core subject teachers work closely together in interdisciplinary teams to provide a coordinated approach to the major concepts that students are expected to know deeply. The school has implemented a curriculum that encourages the learner to connect multiple subject areas with each other. Students find that they are able to apply mathematical concepts in their physical science class; they can use their English essay writing skills in history; they can transfer earth science concepts to understand geography; and that mastery of Spanish conjugation improves their English grammar. YPI Charter School students are engaged in interdisciplinary learning often find the content more exciting and relevant, especially if presented in a way that relates to their own lives.
YPI Charter Schools supports the evidence that effective use of technology enhances student achievement and motivation. When technology is integrated into a thoughtful, innovative lesson plan, technology can help open a classroom to a wealth of information and resources. Students must understand how to interpret and evaluate internet search results; as well as, how to communicate deep understanding using software applications and multimedia technology. Technology savvy teachers are recruited to teach at YPICS. All of the teaching staff are involved in professional development activities that include educational technology and coaching. For example, teachers are trained in the use of the Internet as a research tool. Teachers are given useful strategies to guide their students to evaluate this research, and to determine Internet source credibility.
YPICS is committed to community based education providing support for its students through an integrated approach to school, family, and community. YPICS embodies the belief that students thrive when they are part of a supportive community. YPICS specifically defines community based learning in the following ways:
Community Resources in the Classroom: To support student learning, YPI Charter Schools draws on existing community relationships to involve parents, grandparents and other family members, college age tutors, and mentors in the education of its students.
School as Community Center: The school serves as a hub for lifelong learning for the neighborhood providing services; such as, parenting workshops, computer literacy, and ESL classes.