Key School teaches a four-part approach to character development. The four components of our approach are both individually taught and encouraged, as well as, integrated into all aspects of Key School.
The four KEYS are:
Key life Principles
Key Life Principles are overarching life traits for success with a focus on one trait each month of the school year. Spotlighting individuals on staff and in the scholar body who are exemplars of each trait helps scholars recognize their value.
At Key School, SMART stands for Scholars Making Academics Relevant and Trenchant and Key SMART is our time management and work/study skills strand. On SMART days, scholars focus on strategies to prioritize, manage tasks, explore study and work skills, and organize their materials in ways that work for and are meaningful to them. This strand focuses on scholars taking ownership of their learning.
Key leadership Academy
Our Key Leadership Academy focuses on helping our scholars develop their leadership skills and potential with the focus on being servant leaders. We use the YELL (Youth Empowered through Learning about Leadership) curriculum designed for just such a purpose. The scholars (and teachers) begin their leadership study by looking at and deciding on the traits of a leader and then identifying actions to take to becon1e a positive leader.
The final strand of our character development pillar is Key Knowledge. It is based on the idea that through reading we can infinitesimally increase our knowledge base. Through reading we can improve our vocabulary, ideas, content knowledge, imaginations, and ourselves. The focus of Key Knowledge is on getting scholars to explore a variety of print and text material that interests them and helps them discover reading as a lifelong passion.
Key School uses a multi-sensory, structured approach to reading that uses auditory, visual, and kinesthetic modalities and is based on the Orton-Gillingham method. This approach allows us to remediate difficulties in written language to include reading, writing and spelling.
Up to 90% of English words with more than one syllable are Greek or Latin based. Studying these roots does more than enhance and enrich vocabulary; it gives scholars the power to unlock meanings and histories and grasp the logic of our English language. As scholars advance through grade levels, curriculum becomes more complex and after grade 5, it is estimated that scholars encounter up to 10,000 unknown words in their reading. Having a solid foundation in frequently utilized Greek and Latin Roots allows scholars to manage these new words and incorporate them into their vocabulary, especially in math and science.
Roots are taught through a variety of modes and with a cross-curricular focus to make the learning relevant and trenchant for scholars. Using a variety of platforms and implementing repetitive and consistent instruction allows our scholars to link pronunciation, spelling, and meaning when encountering new words in any coursework or reading.
Through reading we can experience times and places that are otherwise unavailable to us. Understanding the past can prevent us from repeating the mistakes of our predecessors and when closely studied, it helps to develop appreciation for how attitudes have changed over time. This study of literature that has withstood the test of time, promotes a deeper understanding of the past and applications to the present and the future. Key School Classics Curriculum provides scholars with the opportunity to study, in depth, the nuances that rich literature has to offer.
Each Classics course begins with an author study so that scholars get to know the authors and identify style and genre characteristics to watch for during reading. Scholars delve into the classical literature through read-aloud sessions, annotations of their books, Socratic style discussions, and other best practices. Classics also incorporates writing, vocabulary study, high-order thinking skills, comprehension, and text connections (text to text, text to self, and text to world) to help scholars gain an appreciation for great literature.
In order to meet the specific needs of our scholars, English/Language Arts is addressed through a variety of courses. Scholars receive direct instruction at their individual level to maximize not only reading and comprehension, but also written and verbal expression. The goals of the ELA curriculum at Key School is:
By offering different classes to meet the requirements for ELA, Key School is able to tailor instruction to best meet the specific needs of each scholar, whether through remediation or acceleration. These courses allow for instructional adaptability and have various levels of entry so the academic needs of the scholars can be met more precisely. While each segment of English Language Arts is offered as an individual subject, integration of subject matter is school wide.
Composition instruction begins with our youngest scholars and scholars continue to develop their skills as writers throughout their academic career at Key School. Our curriculum is research-based and aligned to instructional best practices for writing. It incorporates the development of critical, high-order thinking and builds in complexity as scholars navigate the writing process. We begin by identifying areas of strength for each scholar and build upon those strengths. Encompassing both content and conventions, the composition curriculum provides scholars with strategies and tools that they can use in all areas. The scholars are also taught to self-monitor their writing and to set goals that push them to improve as writers.
Key School offers a speech class for seniors. This class has a three-fold purpose:
This course helps scholars develop confidence and competence in public speaking and communicating important information in both formal and informal settings.
Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading and a skill that is taught across all content areas. Direct instruction in comprehension strategies begins with our youngest scholars and builds upon those foundational skills as scholars advance through Key School. Comprehension instruction is focused on helping scholars develop close reading strategies to allow them deep comprehension.
Key School uses Signposts to Understanding based in the work of Kylene Beers and Robert Probst. The signposts to understanding are each directly taught to scholars. These 6 signposts (both fiction and non-fiction) help our scholars recognize significant moments in a work of literature. By being alert to these signposts, scholars learn to ask questions of their reading and understanding while exploring any text while using text evidence to support conclusions made. This practice helps to create attentive readers who look closely at text, interpret it responsibly, and reflect on their connections to the text. It is through these strategies and practices that our scholars develop into responsive, rigorous independent readers.
Our Math in Focus curriculum, used by the highest achieving math scholars in the world, is a mastery-based, hands-on program that incorporates engaging and practical strategies with systematic instruction to enable scholars to fully comprehend simple and complex math concepts while gaining an in-depth understanding of the language of numbers. Small class sizes allow scholars to progress as they master mathematical concepts, allowing for acceleration and remediation of skills and concepts for each scholar. Through our highly specialized instructional program, our scholars achieve both competence and confidence in math.
The Math in Focus curriculum at Key School extends through Pre-Algebra. Upon completion scholars progress to a high school level Algebra I course. Beyond Algebra I scholars continue their math coursework in courses including Geometry, Algebra II, College Algebra, and Pre-Calculus. The goal for Key School graduates is to meet Texas requirements by completing a minimum of 3 high school credits in math.
Key School’s hands-on science program allows scholars with language difficulties to enjoy the flexibility and success needed to make science meaningful. Chemistry, Physics, Aviation, Biology, and Engineering are offered at appropriate learning levels
Resources such as textbooks, online resources, video access, and hand-on labs allow scholars to fully engage with scientific thinking and learning. Outside speakers who enrich the science curriculum are also included to help scholars make real-world connections to concepts and skills learned in class.
Social Studies is taught at Key School with an interdisciplinary approach incorporating literature, comprehension, current events, humanities, fine arts, theme writing, and study skills. Key School’s Social Studies curriculum is designed to build scholars’ comprehension and study skills while engaging in the study of history and geography. Vital comprehension skills, such as identifying key ideas and adding the most important supporting facts, helps scholars understand how to use this information to formulate and support critical thoughts about important events and their impact on current world issues. Scholars routinely engage in Socratic style discussion of the concepts being discussed in class.
The foreign language options offered at Key School include American Sign Language and Spanish. As in all our classes, the curriculum is individualized to address the learning style and pace of each scholar. Teachers continually monitor each scholar’s progress, adjusting the lesson presentation to his or her level. This personalized instruction method ensures immediate feedback and consistent teacher/pupil interaction.
To help encourage acquisition of the target language, our foreign language program is taught with maximum positive reinforcement in a nonthreatening environment. Games are used to encourage fun, creative use of the target language. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills are emphasized equally and monitored throughout the curriculum.
All of Key School’s foreign language teachers have experience teaching scholars with language differences and auditory processing difficulties. Instruction includes best practices such as:
Key School is a 1 to 1 computer to scholar ratio in grades 5-12. Each scholar is issued a laptop to use at school and at home. Scholars in grades 3-4 work on laptops in the classroom and K-2 work with iPads. Technology is integrated across the content areas and the use of supportive technology allows all scholars to access the resources needed to learn and achieve at high levels.
In addition to technology implemented in classroom instruction, we offer the following technology courses to advance skills:
The Physical Education program at Key School introduces a new model to the traditional programs of the past. The program teaches scholars to increase their physical competence and to improve on health-related fitness, and enjoyment of physical activity with the objective of being physically active for a lifetime.
Skills progress at a developmentally appropriate pace, beginning with gross motor/locomotor skills in the youngest grades and progressing to more refined locomotor and specific flexibility and manipulative motor skills. Skills are taught, practiced and reinforced through games, cooperative group lessons, and other fun, structured activities. Some of the activities that scholars participate in are yoga, Pilates, soccer, kickball, and Ultimate Frisbee.
Beyond simple physical education, our physical fitness program teaches scholars health concepts for a healthy lifestyle. From recognizing healthy nutritional choices to choosing appropriate exercise that develops cardio-respiratory endurance, muscular strength, endurance, flexibility, and body composition to maintaining positive attitude and appropriate social skills, the PE program at Key School is designed to enrich scholars physical, emotional, and mental health.