Seattle Amistad School provides unique and exciting academic, linguistic, and cultural opportunities for native Spanish speakers, native English speakers, and bilingual students.
At Seattle Amistad School, native Spanish speakers have the opportunity to maintain and continue their Spanish language development, in the context of their regular academic program. At the same time, children are introduced to English in a supported, relaxed way, gradually building up to full literacy in English as well. Home culture and language are utilized as the basis for solid academic and literacy development. At Seattle Amistad School, native Spanish speakers become fully bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural, grounded in family and community, and skilled at navigating the wider world. Studies show that the instructional model used at Seattle Amistad School, two-way immersion, is the only effective model for educating dual language students, and for closing the academic performance gap. Research has consistently shown that native Spanish speakers in two-way programs demonstrate academic outcomes equal or superior to mainstream English-speaking students.
Native English speakers at Seattle Amistad School have a unique opportunity: access to a first-rate academic program through a second language, resulting in high academic performance and full bilingualism and biliteracy in Spanish. In a supported and structured way, English speakers receive academic instruction in Spanish first, and then build upon their skills to develop full literacy in both languages. Decades of research have shown that English speakers in two-way immersion programs, such as Seattle Amistad School, demonstrate academic performance equal to or higher than their counterparts in all English programs.
All students at Seattle Amistad School participate in a dynamic, rigorous academic program, that includes readers’ and writers’ workshop, math, inquiry science, social studies, capoeira, and health. Seattle Amistad School also works with the local community to provide a holistic arts experience for students. Music, dance, performing arts, visual arts traditions are presented to students within their respective cultural and historical traditions. In this way, our students become dynamic participants in the popular arts. Additionally, teachers build lessons around childrens’ own lives, histories, and experiences, insuring that instruction is as culturally responsive as it is academically sound. Finally, all children at Seattle Amistad School prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow. Learning at Amistad incorporates a critical lens, through which children learn to examine their lives and the larger society. In becoming bilingual and bicultural, our students are prepared to be the bridges between people and communities, to work for greater justice and compassion in our world.
Seattle Amistad School combines well-researched best practices in language and literacy development. For reading and writing, we use the Readers Workshop and Writers Workshop model that has been developed and refined through Columbia Teacher’s College in New York. Teacher’s College has been at the forefront of solid, innovative thinking around literacy instruction for the last 25 years, and has raised the bar for new national standards around teaching and learning literacy. With this, we combine best practices in language development, integrating language learning, vocabulary development, and oral fluency into all aspects of students’ experience. Finally, at Seattle Amistad School, literacy work is centered on the lives of our students. We encourage young readers and writers to begin with their own experiences, and from there develop a critical lens for analyzing and negotiating the larger world around them. Reading and writing become a tool for students to both understand and influence both community and world.
Math and Sciences
Amistad’s adopted math curriculum is Investigations. Investigations is the result of extensive research into how children develop math concepts as well as best practices in teaching and learning. It incorporates nationally accepted standards for math (Common Core State Standards) as well as Washington State Math K-5 Learning Standards. Investigations is a very hands-on math curriculum, using games and manipulatives to teach and review concepts throughout the grade levels. It also places a strong emphasis on math reasoning, and encourages language development and communication. In this way, Investigations aligns with and complements our program for language development at Amistad.
Amistad uses the FOSS (Full Option Science System) developed from decades of research from the University of California at Berkeley. FOSS is a highly experiential program, and posits that scientific process, thinking, and reasoning are the primary goals of a quality science education. From the very beginning, children are encouraged to not only build knowledge of scientific content, they are also challenged to question, hypothesize, investigate, observe, and analyze. As with our math curriculum, FOSS also encourages language and vocabulary development through science topics.
In 2nd grade, Amistad students have math in English, during their designated English time. Science in 2nd grade is in Spanish, and from there, our students begin a cycle of alternating languages for math and science each year, in order to fully develop their math and science skills in two languages.
Amistad has adopted Rights, Respect, Responsibility, a K-12 Health and Sexuality Curriculum developed by Advocates for Youth . Themes from PreK-5th grade include families, interpersonal relationships, gender, life cycle and sexuality, and personal safety. The lessons present factual information in a developmentally appropriate and kid-friendly way, and encourage children to identify their own values and family beliefs around the different themes.
Over the last two years, Amistad teachers and staff have created and developed a social studies curriculum that aligns both with our community values, our educational philosophy, and the OSPI State standards for social studies. Every year, each grade level has a question that guides their study, related to the content outlined by the state standards. Students examine aspects of the question through the lenses of geography, civics, history, economics, demographics, and social movements. The curriculum incorporates the following components, either relating directly to or in preparation for the primary content:
- An exploration of personal identity
- An exploration of related artistic expressions and cultural traditions
- An exploration of how children relate to the context and content of the material
- A “dialogue” with the material, which may manifest itself as a community project, an action or project related to the content, a group response to the content, or some other project that emerges from the group’s work.
Music, dance, visual and performing arts are powerful ways to learn language, to create community, and to both understand and influence culture. We at Seattle Amistad School believe that the arts are not a separate subject during the day, but are fundamentals that further our learning and deepen our appreciation for life in all areas. Seattle Amistad School seeks to engage with the vibrant cultural and artistic community in Seattle, bringing the arts into our school and taking our students out into the community as full participants.
Links of Interest
Investigations. Amistad’s adopted Math Curriculum: http://investigations.terc.edu/overview.cfm
Advocates for Youth – Social Studies Curriculum: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/about-us