Conservatory Lab Charter School empowers a diverse range of children as scholars, artists, and leaders through a unique and rigorous academic and music education. We enrich the larger community through performance, service, and collaboration. As a laboratory school, we develop and disseminate innovative educational approaches that will positively impact children in other schools and programs.
“Music is practically the only way to a dignified social destiny. Poverty means loneliness, sadness, anonymity. An orchestra means joy, motivation, teamwork, the aspiration to success.” – Jose Abreu, Founder of El Sistema.
At Conservatory Lab, we believe in the power of music and learning to transform the lives of our students and their families. At the core of our pioneering curriculum is the hybrid of two proven and exemplary programs: El Sistema and Expeditionary Learning. Both programs emphasize the experience of breaking through barriers in the pursuit of excellence – creating a culture and habit of perseverance. Taken together, these two programs motivate and nurture our students to become dedicated scholars, compassionate leaders, and skilled musicians.
Conservatory Lab uses the workshop model, project-based learning, and inquiry-based learning for reading, writing, and math. This includes the use of standards-based curriculum, mini-lessons, individually paced work, student constructed meaning, processes, risk taking, portfolio/performance assessment, self-assessment, and individualized learning and evaluation. Our rich classroom environments have learning targets posted, classroom libraries categorized by reading level/genre/author/special interests, word walls, space for group learning and individual conferencing, and independent work stations.
Through careful planning and preparation by teachers, students at Conservatory Lab become an educated musical audience, music performers, and can connect music to all academic areas. Students go deep in their musical and academic studies through their Learning through Music Expeditions (LTMEs); students recognize music masterpieces, styles and genres in music history (The Listening Project); students attend and perform in music performances in school-wide assemblies; and students participate in musicianship, orchestra, and instrument sectionals daily.
The goal of differentiating instruction is to enable each student in our classrooms to continually progress and to stretch. To simplify, the basic steps of differentiating instruction include the following:
- Teachers are clear about the essential facts, learning targets, concepts, principles, and skills that frame their subject — “What do you want each student to come away with as a result of this activity?”
- Teachers seek information to help them understand each student’s point of entry and progress in learning.
- Teachers attempt to match curriculum and instruction to the learner’s readiness, interest, or learning profile.
- Teachers expect all children to reach the same goals, but understand it may be by different paths.
- Teachers use cycles of data review to recognize an individual student’s growth and refine instructional practices.
ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING
These practices emphasize continual formative assessment to help students know their strengths and focus on what they still need to learn. It involves:
- Help students develop a clear vision of the content standards they are responsible for learning.
- Offer effective feedback related to the learning targets.
- Teach students to self-assess, peer-assess, setting goals for further learning.
- Design focused practice and revision opportunities.
- Engage students in tracking, reflecting on, and sharing their progress.
The Conservatory Lab Charter School is a community of teachers and families who have come together for one purpose: to provide the best possible education to our children. Using the phrase “our children” promotes the idea that we all take ownership in teaching not only academics, but citizenship, responsibility, respect, kindness, and friendliness; and that by positively embracing our children at both school and home, they will have the tools necessary to make positive and powerful decisions that will affect the way they move and grow and give back to their communities throughout their lives. We understand that in practice, there will be mistakes, even failures. The Conservatory Lab strives to use the moments when a child makes a mistake as an opportunity to teach. Discipline is, in fact, defined as “to teach,” thus we seek to turn all moments into teachable moments. Thus we believe that:
We are not perfect; we practice together.
- We stand together against bullying.
- We view mistakes as learning opportunities.
- We use kind, caring and empathic language with one another and problem solve through peaceful resolution and mediation.
- We walk and talk in the hallways instead of run and yell.
- We use logical consequences, reparations, and apology of action as ways to fix what is broken.