Ben Bronz Academy is process-driven, not program-oriented. We use and integrate many educational programs into a process that’s personalized for each student. There’s one process at the Academy but there are many ways of learning.
The process identifies the best way for each student to develop, learn, and achieve. The process consists of research-based, proven educational fundamentals that we call pillars. Applying these pillars through our integrated process creates the best educational pathway for every student. The Academy’s process includes these pillars:
The Academy teaches students to become active learners. Students are actively learning if, on their own, they are seeking ways to understand and remember new words or concepts, and explaining them to others. We teach more than thirty ways of becoming an active learner. One aspect of active learning is the Academy’s practice of having mediators rarely answer student questions in class. Instead, the mediator will ask the student a question or remind the student of a technique he or she already knows that will enable him to discover the answer on his or her own.
Students are also responsible for their learning. They are expected to stop the class when confused (gating – Feedback Awareness System) so that they understand the concepts being taught. They are also expected to complete homework daily and seek help when needed, thus developing self-advocacy skills.
Cognitive modifiability is a theory proposed by Dr. Reuven Feuerstein, a developmental psychologist who refutes the notion that intelligence is stable for life. Dr. Feuerstein explains deficient learning as a result of a lack of mediated learning experiences earlier in life. He says that intelligence can be taught. We can change the way we think through having the right mediated learning experiences.
For many of us, the mediated learning experience occurred every day of our young lives. If, as an infant, you approached a hot stove, your mother would say “no” and move you away to safety. If she added an explanation that the stove was hot and hot things burn, and took time to show you other hot things, then she was providing the mediation that gave you the criteria to decide to avoid hot things. Mediated Learning is taught through Instrumental Enrichment in the Upper School and through the MetaLearning Program (MLP) in the Lower School.
The central tenet of Precision Teaching is that “the learner knows best.” Simply put, Precision Teaching is the belief that every child is Grade A material, but they require the practice, expectations, and feedback to reach a level of excellence. Through continuous measurement using the “standard celeration chart,” students self-monitor their performance systematically, allowing them to evaluate whether the instructional strategies and their own specific behaviors are working or if they need improvement. This means Academy students make progress against their own record, not as compared to other students, leading to true mastery of the skills they need.
Direct Instruction is a set of procedures that are uniformly applied in all Ben Bronz Academy content courses and all writing activities. For example, through the use of choral response, a group of students is cued visually to respond to a prompt in unison out loud. This method is a means of producing active learners out of the students even when they lack prior knowledge of the subject matter.
Lessons in decoding and comprehension as well as the Saxon Math™ curriculums are taught using the Direct Instruction method. These lessons expand vocabulary and sentence comprehension skills and provide exercises in reasoning and inference. Direct Instruction helps students integrate these skills and develop the strategies they need to apply the skills in new situations.
This instructional pillar is integrated with Direct Instruction and Precision Teaching models. Through Process-based Instruction students develop a new process for taking in, thinking about, and responding to information.
In all academic areas, students need to use language to understand and follow steps (the process) to complete a task. Students learn to identify the sequence of stories, word problems, expository text, and social situations. They are then able to break down the information into components because they understand the purpose behind the task. This learning strategy is effective in many situations. For example:
- Looking at individual letters to identify sounds that make a word
- Identifying part of a story (setting, etc.) to understand motive
- Removing irrelevant information from a word problem so that the student can focus on the information needed to get a solution
- Breaking the writing process into segments when editing for content, grammar, or spelling, so that the language used is more manageable and not overwhelming.
Each of these strategies is directly taught and ultimately helps students develop better problem solving skills in all academic areas.
In addition to the learning or attention deficit problems Ben Bronz Academy students exhibit, many also display executive-function (EF) deficits. That means they may lack the abilities to start and complete tasks, recall and follow multi-step directions, stay on track, plan, organize, and self-monitor. We provide executive-function remediation so that our students can be better organized and work independently both at home and in the classroom.
We work on receptive and expressive language skills including vocabulary building, examination of syntax, metaphoric expressions, social skills, and the art of debate. In social pragmatics the Academy concentrates on social skills including meeting people, developing conversational skills, reading body language, hosting, interviewing, and arguing effectively. Semantic pragmatics concentrates on the proper use/construction of speech, including the understanding of parts of speech, metaphoric expressions, and effective self-expression.