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    Denny International MS Advanced Learning Update
    Posted on 02/21/2020

    February 21, 2020

    Dear Denny Families,

    I am writing to update you on plans for advanced learning opportunities at our school for next year.  We will continue to offer rigorous learning opportunities in every subject, including:

    In math, we offer accelerated learning opportunities at every grade level. Scholars are challenged in advanced level math classes that they are ready for and are given additional supports, including extra teaching time during the day, after school, and during non-school days to meet increasingly high math standards. Scholars have the opportunity to complete 7th or 8th grade math as 6th graders, 8th grade math or Algebra as 7th graders, and Algebra or Geometry as 8th graders.  The only change for next year will be what the courses will be called.  For example, next year, we will continue to have whole classes filled with 6th graders taking 7th grade math.  This year, we called this course Math 6 Honors.  Starting next year, it will be called Math 7 and the class will still be filled by only 6th graders.  What had been called Math 7 Honors will now be called Math 8.  We will continue to use the high school course titles of Algebra and Geometry for scholars taking these high school level classes while still in middle school.

    In our two-period Reading/Writing block classes, we use a teaching approach called Reader’s/Writer’s Workshop. As a partner school with Columbia University in New York, Denny teachers receive intensive training and support to implement this model with fidelity. Scholars in our classes are reading and writing at their own independent levels, including many scholars reading at levels as high as 12th grade.  This approach to teaching allows for natural differentiation and challenge, while teachers teach skills on a continuum embedded in the text-level appropriate for each scholar.  For next year, we will not offer a Language Arts/Reading Honors, or Spectrum, class.  Rather, all of our classes with be a heterogenous mix of our scholars.  This change matches the recommendations for Language Arts of Seattle Public Schools and educational research, which shows that kids of all levels learn the most in mixed classes, where challenge and rigor is provided for everyone through differentiation.

    Our science department will continue to use AmplifyScience, a curriculum developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley, that is a research-based, digitally enhanced curriculum.  This curriculum includes interactive educational technologies as well as text-based and hands-on learning activities and assessments. Through this collaborative partnership, our school employs innovative, computer-assisted instruction to address the Next Generation Science Standards. We are also continuing our partnership with the district Career Technical Education department to integrate coding into our 7th and 8th grade curriculum.  To do this, we have a partnership with Code. org., a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by girls and students of color.

    Other highlighted opportunities for advanced learning at our school, include:

    • A Spanish Dual Language Pathway at Denny and Sealth, wherein scholars are learning academic content in Spanish with the goal of developing and celebrating true bilingualism and earning college credit at the High School level. We also offer Spanish to beginners, giving all scholars the challenge of learning the second most popular language in our country in a way that can be continued at high school.
    • Mandarin Chinese is an important part of our seven-year learning pathway with Chief Sealth International H.S. The opportunity to learn a character-based language that has become the future business language of the Pacific Rim offers limitless challenge.
    • Music and Visual Arts: Advanced performance and leadership opportunities are embedded in how we offer the arts to all scholars.
    • Technology: Our Project Lead the Way class offers in-depth engineering, robotics, and computer-based design opportunities that challenge scholars to go deeper in the projects they create.  In addition, starting next year, our scholars will have the opportunity to become certified in the usage of Microsoft Office 365 Applications as a part of this course.
    • Extended Day and Summer School: After school and during the summer, advanced learning opportunities continue, with offerings including coding, performance art, music making, and robotics.

    I am very proud of our scholars for all that they are learning.  I am also thankful for our staff for all that they are doing to maximize the education of each child.  As a team, we are all committed to achieving racial and educational justice—it is a great honor to be Dolphin!

    Sincerely,

    Jeff Clark, Principal