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Center for Dynamic Learning
All of our faculty in the Center for Dynamic Learning (CDL) are certified special educators in the State of Maine and have many years of combined experience. All students enrolled in the CDL have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) written after a collaborative meeting with the student, parent, teachers, guidance counselor, and Director of Learning Services. This IEP is reviewed annually and sooner if the case manager determines the plan needs further consideration based upon student progress and evaluative information. All students have a detailed transition plan (beginning at age 14 based upon Maine regulations) included in their IEP. This plans considers student's long-term aspirations and basic assessments to help assist students prepare for life after high school.
Students in the CDL program are integrated into vocational and academic courses to the greatest extent possible. Washington Academy attempts to limit class size to 18 students to be able to personalize learning and meet all students' individual strengths and needs. Each student begins their day in an advisory class with an assigned teacher. This teacher will continue to be the students' advisor each year. Small class size, advisor support, and constant communication, provides an intricate support system for every student. Classes offered through the CDL are typically much smaller. In some instances, the support system includes a CDL staff member assisting the teacher and the students' directly in the regular education classroom. This allows the CDL staff to remain apprised of daily academic lessons, assignments, and long-term projects. Our goal for all students is to provide the best possible environment for learning. Washington Academy teachers use multiple strategies to support individual learning across all content areas.
Washington Academy has a campus wide adolescent literacy initiative. A teacher led adolescent literacy team is represented by teachers from all academic departments. Teachers work in teams to develop, model, and implement research-based literacy strategies in all content areas. Two-column note taking and word walls are the norm at Washington Academy, providing students with consistent methods to learn. The deliberate focus all teachers place on vocabulary provides a multiplier effect within all educational settings. The focus on vocabulary increases the students' comprehension. As the academic confidence level of each student rises, students become more engaged and their ability to think critically and participate in lessons increases.
Written language skills are individualized for all students that receive consult or direct services in the CDL program. Written language modifications are considered on an individual basis during the team design of the IEP planning process. These are based upon the pre-assessed ability levels of each student, along with team input. Washington Academy teachers have developed written language assessment rubrics that serve as a framework for all teachers in every content area. These rubrics provide a consistent approach for research and written language assignments for all students. Teachers use the framework, or core parts, of the assessment and modify the rubrics other requirements to meet the specific needs of their content areas. Students soon realize that all teachers expect the same basic core requirements.
Wordly Wise has been used in the CDL for several years. It is a comprehensive program including, sentence and paragraph development, reading comprehension, grammar and usage, and vocabulary development. This program is scripted and consistent. Each student is placed in the appropriate level(s), based upon their pre-assessed abilities.
The CDL math curriculum is individualized based upon each students identified needs. This ranges from basic math skills for everyday living, to pre-algebraic concepts. Many CDL students are integrated into regular campus math curricula, such as Algebra I and II, as well as geometry. Often these students get support during the directed study period, or in some instances, a CDL staff support person will also attend the class and provide direct support(s) during and after the daily lesson.
The CDL staff recognizes that reading, writing, listening, vocabulary, comprehension, and thinking skills are vital for academic success. The S.P.I.R.E. program, which consists of Pre-Level 1 Sounds Sensible through Level 8, is a successful, multisensory reading and language arts program that is research based and time tested. S.P.I.R.E.’s systematic, sequential, spiral curriculum is designed for students with language-based learning disabilities as well as at-risk or struggling readers. Based on Orton-Gillingham methodology, the S.P.I.R.E. program reinforces all skills recommended by the National Reading Panel, including phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The reading program is intended to be very structured, explicitly taught by the teacher; systematically planned and organized; and sequenced in a way that moves from simple to complex.
The majority of students in the CDL that have an IEP, have an 80 minute directed study support class every day. The directed studies program is an integral component that provides success for CDL students. This small group setting provides direct support for students in all academic areas. Within this setting a student may be getting assistance to complete a chemistry lab, pre-read a biology lesson, organize notebooks, and perhaps get assistance to do research for an upcoming history report, to name a few possibilities. The directed studies teachers generally has daily communication with all teachers that work with CDL students in order to make this intervention successful. This collaborative, proactive approach, attempts to make sure that all students work to the best of their abilities and receive the necessary accommodations to support their learning differences everyday.
The CDL is also responsible for the design plans and case management of 504 students. Students that qualify for 504 services have a documented disability that impacts a “major life activity”. 504 is one part of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In 2008 Congress revised the ADA/504 eligibility standards. The general standard for qualification is a student must have a physical or mental impairment which “substantially limits” one or more major life activities. (See ADA Amendments Act 2008, Sec 4 (amending 42 U.S.C. § 12102(3)). The parental section on this website has more specific information regarding details of 504 eligibility and procedures. (§ -this symbol refers to a particular section in a document)