Discovery is pleased to offer an assortment of enrichment classes that help supplement our core programming. Please explore our offerings to get a more in depth review of what each program has to offer.
- Art Education
- World Languages
- Physical Education
- STEaM at Discovery
- Ecoliteracy & Youth Philanthrophy
Art is a valued and integrated component of the educational environment at The Discovery School and contributes to the well-rounded development of its students. Students are introduced to art materials, artists and creative "art making" in their Toddler and Primary classrooms where creative opportunities are often integrated into their academic and practical learning activities and experiences. Additionally, all Kindergarten through 6th grade students are involved in weekly art classes (60 minutes) with an art enrichment teacher in a dedicated art room.
The approach is non-competitive and nurtures the artistic spirit of each child, respecting each child as an artist and an individual, and encouraging each artist to discover his/her unique creative voice. This philosophy also includes an expectation that all children, with guidance and encouragement, will try to do their best work by becoming invested in the process and participating fully. Every child benefits from both experiencing the creative process and, secondarily, achieving success through completion of a product or reaching a personal goal. This naturally leads to a sense of accomplishment and greater self-confidence while increasing the student's willingness to take creative risks in the future.
At all grade levels, art offers students an opportunity for self-expression. Through art, the students can see that there are many perspectives and ways to experience and interpret the world. Art demonstrates that there can be multiple solutions to a problem and more than one answer to a question. Students are encouraged to discuss the art process: how art makes us feel and what we learn from the experience. Students practice how to communicate ideas to others. This process fosters increased self-awareness and builds communication skills. This naturally includes developing an art vocabulary.
Learning something new in art often requires listening skills and the ability to follow directions, but it also requires flexibility and a willingness to risk and accept unanticipated circumstances and situations, utilizing problem solving skills and adapting to changes. The Discovery School artists celebrate their "happy accidents." Mistakes are not viewed as failures, but rather as opportunities to learn something new, frequently leading to new discoveries and exciting outcomes. Art always involves making choices and developing the capacity for creative problem solving. All students are encouraged to recycle and to find creative ways to repurpose discarded materials, discovering that it is not necessary to spend a lot of money to enjoy making art. At the same time, by reducing waste, students honor and celebrate our Earth. They frequently incorporate natural and found materials in their creations, and their ideas are often inspired by nature.
Students also learn the value of revision, how to receive and offer constructive critique and assistance. They learn to be specific, kind and supportive in providing feedback to others. They are encouraged to strive for improved craftsmanship and, as a result, reap the rewards of persistence and patience. All students create an art portfolio to keep practice work and revisions, file information and handouts, and record ideas. Students are encouraged to identify and date their work to provide a structure for tracking progress and a means for reflection on the art process and their personal experience.
Art concepts, genres and activities are usually presented in conjunction with examining the work of artists from around the globe (past and present), providing a historical and cultural context. The work of these artists represents a wide variety of styles and incorporates a broad selection of media, with processes that include drawing, painting, collage, printmaking, and sculpture. The students learn to recognize similarities and differences between different genres of art. This examination may illuminate a particular concept or approach to art making. It helps students to understand how artists have used symbols and visual representations through time and across cultures. Students learn how artists today (represented in a wide variety of careers) influence everyday life and how the application of art can impact the quality of life. They can begin to consider opportunities for applying art in a career or as an ongoing activity and enrichment in their lives.
The goal of the Art Program is to create an awareness of the far-reaching potential of art through Art Enrichment and Hands-on experience (art making). The approach is to integrate the students' art room experiences with what they are studying through the transdisciplinary learning of the IB units of study in the classroom: math, creative writing, social studies, science, and foreign languages. Thus, their art experience can enhance their class work and their class work can enhance their art, helping to inform and facilitate future choices and increase skills in problem-solving, creative thinking, effectively managing frustration and meeting new challenges. This integrated approach makes learning about art more practical, meaningful and exciting.
Language and communication are at the heart of the human experience. The language profiles of students in PYP schools may be complex and diverse; however, the influence of mother-tongue development is significant for all learners. It is acknowledged that development of mother-tongue language is crucial for cognitive development, and in maintaining cultural identity. An integral part of the IB Program is to foster “International Mindedness” and initiate a lifelong love for both mother-tongue and foreign language learning. Children are taught to appreciate other cultures through the study of their language and traditions, thereby encouraging more understanding and awareness. Every learner benefits from having access to different languages, and, through that access, to different cultures and perspectives. Acquisition of more than one language enriches personal development and helps facilitate international-mindedness. In order to develop multicultural awareness and gain a global perspective, students study two Foreign Languages at The Discovery School: Spanish and French.
Spanish is taught to the Primary, Foundation Elementary, Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary classes. These classes occur once a week for Primary (3s, 4s, and Ks) for 30 minutes and twice a week for Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary for 50 minutes. French is also taught once a week at the Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary levels. All classes are held in the centrally located in the Library Commons in Building 4.
The World Languages Program strives to initiate a long sequence of foreign language learning beginning in the early grades, thus promoting proficiency in the target language. By teaching foreign languages at a critical age/sensitive period for language acquisition the children are very receptive to trying out the new sounds. An additional benefit is that it helps students make connections between multiple languages. It is important to prepare students to compete in the global economy, as well provide a meaningful context for developing multicultural awareness and a more global perspective. Another goal is to strengthen the language competency of Spanish and/or French speaking students. We encourage students to develop and maintain skills in the foreign languages, following the FLES (Foreign Languages in the Elementary Schools) standards and IB PYP Program. By introducing students to the culture and celebrations of Latin American countries and France, we increase their cultural sensitivity.
Spanish Learner Outcomes
- Use and respond to greetings and introductions
- Become familiar with vocabulary for days of the week, months of the year, seasons, weather, numbers, shapes, colors, daily routines, family members, animals, body parts, likes and dislikes, and food
Memorize and use vocabulary for days of week, months of the year, seasons, weather, family vocab, daily routines, colors, numbers, house vocab, school vocab, animals, places in the community, and landforms
- Incorporate -AR verbs, IR+A+infin, and me gutsa into vocabulary to speak phrases and sentences
- Use common expressions and share emotions
- Understand written passages
- Act out short dialogues
- Students write short paragraphs to reinforce grammar lessons
- Participate in “El Pueblo de Discovery” day where they use oral skills to communicate with various Places in the Community; La Escuela, El Supermercado, etc
- Students learn about the culture of Spanish speaking countries through the study of their traditions and celebrations
- Communicate their likes, about their families, their hobbies and emotions
- Read and act out plays written in the target language
- Watch videos and programs in Spanish and French and discuss what they comprehend
- Write stories using present tense verbs, adjectives and nouns that they have learned
- Work with more complex grammatical rules, such as : Tener y Que+ Infinitive, Ir + A+ Infinitive and Question words
- Learn vocabulary for Landforms, La Clase, Body parts, Clothing and La Casa
The Discovery School believes that physical education plays a vital role in educating the student as a whole. It contributes directly to the development of athletic ability and fitness. It also supports students in making informed choices and understanding the importance of leading an active lifestyle. The benefits of physical education can affect both academic learning and overall well-being. A healthy and active student is more likely to be academically motivated and successful. As children get older, being engaged in physical activity can support the development of a positive self-image, as well as the ability to pursue social and emotional challenges. Throughout the years, quality physical education can promote social, cooperative, and problem-solving skills. The Discovery School strives to maintain a program which stays up to date with education’s best practices. Our curriculum aligns with the National PE Standards, which promote the development of motor skills, active living, and understanding of concepts that foster positive interactions and healthy lifestyles.
At The Discovery School, Primary students receive yoga 30 minutes a week. Elementary students receive 30 minutes of instruction twice a week. Character education is infused through the values of respect, leadership, and responsibility concerning the team and individual fitness. Students build up their self-esteem and confidence when completing new activities or levels of coordination. Students engage in multiple team sports including soccer, basketball, football, wiffle ball, and kickball. Students also participate in conditioning, plyometrics, and strength training activities to help promote increased muscle development and mental toughness.
Quality instruction allows children to develop appropriate fundamental motor patterns. These foundational skills enhance children’s social, cognitive, and physical development. It also increases the likelihood of continued interest and participation in physical activity throughout the years. Students are taught how to be “smart” when engaging in physical activities; to know their limits and to take care of their bodies. All instruction falls under one of the five instructional themes.
The movement framework is a vital part of the core content for all students. It is the basis for developing, expanding, and refining children’s range of motor skills and awareness. Students experience a wide variety of applications of fundamental movements which are learned through various collaborative games in addition to traditional sports.
Fitness is an essential aspect of the curriculum. Students work on a variety of fitness skills along with principles and concepts weekly. As students progress and improve, their development becomes more systematic. Students are challenged with specific fitness tasks, goal setting, and assessing personal fitness levels.
Throwing, Catching, and Striking
Developing the basic and complex principles of throwing and catching are vital skills for students to understand. Children become aware of how these skills require varying amounts of energy that cause physical changes to the body. Students learn that being able to throw and catch effectively is essential to play many team games. Children develop their throwing and catching through a multitude of games and team sports. Striking is a necessary element of many games and activities. Students develop the skills of striking and explore its use in different forms, through many games. They learn that the necessary body actions of striking remain consistent as the skill is adapted to suit a range of activities. Students demonstrate control in performing a strike in a variety of modified games.
Personal and Social Growth
The physical education program intends to prepare students to maintain intrinsically active lifestyles which allow children to engage in enjoyable, meaningful leisure-time pursuits. Students will develop leadership qualities and understanding about how to balance rights, roles, and responsibilities in various individual and team situations.
Healthy Lifestyle and Wellness
Children will understand the positive contribution that regular exercise makes to the physical and mental health of their well-being. Students learn how to bring healthy changes for both themselves and their community. All students develop an understanding of mental wellness, personal health, and safety, in addition to the importance of nutritional needs.
- develop basic locomotor and manipulative skills
- understand the techniques, rules, and purpose of a range of athletic games
- recognize that practice and repetition create achievement and improved performance
- recognize that movements can be linked together and refined to generate a sequence of movements
- acknowledge and accept the challenges presented by games
- understand the importance of manipulating space
- identify and develop appropriate skills and strategies
- recognize the importance of rules and how they define the nature of a game
- modify existing games and create new games
- demonstrate teamwork
- engage in a variety of tasks requiring the use of physical and critical thinking skills
- work collaboratively within a group to solve problems
- recognize the role of the individual and the group in a problem-solving setting
- recognize and appreciate the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle
- understand the body’s response to exercise and the development of physical fitness
The Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEaM) program at Discovery is designed to leverage technology in the service of great education. The technology that is utilized may be high tech, such as programmable robots, or it might be low tech, such as shaping wood with hand and power tools.
A STEaM class may be in support of a curriculum learning objective during the school day, or it might be just for fun after school. Ideally, STEaM should involve our whole school community, parents, students, teachers, and friends, tinkering, talking and taking the newest tech toys out for a spin.
At Discovery, we believe that music is an effective, engaging, and rewarding way to practice executive functioning, social-emotional interactions, motor skill, communication skill, inclusiveness, and impulse control.
In Foundational Elementary, students are immersed in an experiential program that emphasizes these core skills through the experience of learning hand percussion in a community drum circle environment. Students learn to mimic and repeat rhythmic patterns from varying cultures, as well as learning to be aware of themselves and others as they follow the patterns and communicate non-verbally to stay together. During this program, students experience opportunities to practice these patterns together, author new ones, learn about cultures around the world and their rhythmic traditions, and hold drum circle performances in our community to present their progress to date.
In Lower Elementary, students are immersed in an experiential program that emphasizes these core skills through the experience of learning to play the ukulele. Students learn about rhythm and tonality using this instrument as a vehicle. They learn to strum chords in a variety of keys, learn to play simple songs together, always communicating with each other and staying together by practicing their self-awareness, awareness of others, impulse control, and community inclusiveness. During this program, students experience opportunities to practice these skills together, as well as present their progress to the community.
In Upper Elementary, students have the ability to experience what it’s like to be a music production company. They organize themselves into different roles (i.e., guitar, ukulele, percussion, vocal, graphic design, and sound engineering), and spend the first few minutes of class planning their workflow for the day. They then break into groups to practice their individual sections and proceed towards their goals, after which they reconvene to try these individual parts together. We then take notes on what we can improve on, and the musical design cycle continues! With each iteration, students get closer to the level of quality they deem necessary for a community performance. Then, we identify opportunities for such a performance and work with other involved classes, students, teachers, and other school personnel in order to implement it.
Nine years ago The Discovery School launched a Youth Philanthropy initiative to advance our mission of cultivating young people who are responsible, courageous world citizens. We defined Youth Philanthropy (YP) as the donation of time, energy, or resources by children and youth towards philanthropic causes. Youth Philanthropy educates young people about social change in order to identify community problems and design the most appropriate solutions. To date, the Youth Philanthropy programs have raised over $10,000 for our conservation partners. This successful program has been presented at state, regional, and national professional conferences.
- Rainforest Alliance
In 2010, with the support and guidance of Leigh Weaver, Discovery launched a pilot program with the Rainforest Alliance to integrate their conservation curriculum throughout the Primary and Elementary programs. This partnership with the Rainforest Alliance provided a unique opportunity for our students to be engaged with an international organization focused on sustainable practices around the world. The curriculum brought hands-on real world experiences to the students. It ignited a passion in the students to further explore and understand the challenges that face our planet. It provided them the opportunity to see themselves as true agents of change.
This partnership also created an avenue for Discovery to present to the executive director of the American Montessori Society in the summer of 2012 about the potential to create a national curriculum partner.
- White Oak
By partnering with White Oak Conservation Center, Discovery is able to bring students face-to-face with some of the world’s most endangered species and the people working to save them. By using one species as a focal point, White Oak and Discovery are able to engage students in learning about ecosystems and cultures across the globe in places like Kenya, Nepal, and Colombia. This year elementary students produced a promotional video in Spanish about an endangered bird species, which is being used by a Colombian non-profit to raise awareness in schools in the species’ home range.
- Jacksonville Zoo and Manatee Conservation
In 2014, Discovery partnered with the Jacksonville Zoo to help conserve a local species, the manatee. Students raised money for the zoo’s proposed Manatee Critical Care Center, and were the only school invited to participate in the release of a rehabilitated manatee into the Trout River. Move forward to February 2017 and Discovery students were granted the honor of leading the parade and ceremony for the grand opening of the Critical Care Center.
Forest Kindergarten and Campus Gardens
The real world is the optimal learning environment. Discovery hired Dave “The Plantman” Korlacki in 2015 to make the campus a hands-on laboratory for eco-learning. Gardens, forests, and wetlands are an incredible place for children to experience living systems and basic concepts of ecological literacy firsthand: the flow of energy from the sun to plants and animals, cycles of water and weather, the web of relations contained in one square foot of garden or forest. These natural places allow students to be more physically active, to use all their senses, and to awaken their sense of wonder as they find life teeming in a handful of soil. Dave leads programs that range in scope from taking Kindergarteners on forest hikes to doing sustainable landscaping with sixth graders. He also nurtures the natural campus environment for all students, staff and guests, helping to provide the only proven cure to “Nature Deficit Disorder.”
Change, if it is to be long lasting, cannot simply be imposed on a system, such as a school or community. And education for sustainability requires more than merely introducing one more program. It must pervade the school and move outward into the community. We launched the Eco Action Team in 2016 to encourage student and staff leadership in pervading the school with an ecological ethos. Every Friday 14 elementary students and six faculty team-members meet to take part in the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools program. This global program engages students, faculty, and community volunteers in comprehensive, environmental-based program to improve student environmental literacy and skills. Schools themselves become greener and cleaner through student led projects.
Green Apple Day of Service
In 2018, Discovery partnered with Haskell to participate in the Green Apple Day of Service. This day is meant to unite communities to transform schools into safe, healthy, and sustainable learning environments. Volunteers came together to transform our playing field into an outdoor learning center, complete with a wooden learning pod and a variety of different gardens. This day of service was an opportunity to give students hands-on-experience with sustainability, strengthening environmental literacy, project management skills, and civic leadership.
Successful place-based programs involve students as participants in the life of their communities. With construction of a new community accessible learning space the gardens, forest, wetlands, technology, and Discovery staff will be more easily shared with the greater Jacksonville community. Significant community opportunities exist at the intersection of STEaM and sustainability, an emerging discipline called Green STEaM. These programs connect children’s innate curiosity about the natural world with innovation in STEaM, and the proposed Discovery learning space is the perfect place for that connection to ignite/emerge.
- University of Florida Partnership
Lauren Watkins, a PhD student at the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation, is proposing an opportunity for The Discovery School to be involved in a long-term research project in collaboration with UF and White Oak Conservation Foundation. The project would assess the efficacy of students’ exposure to conservation science curricula over a several year period. The project will investigate if the students, and potentially parents and teachers, adopt environmentally responsible behaviors and increase environmental literacy through repeated exposure to science in partnership with informal educational institutions. This project will also focus on building capacity of teachers, female students and families through interdisciplinary, problem-based learning approaches that take an adaptive and holistic approach to integrating science learning into the student's overall learning experience.