Technology at the Newgrange School is based on both NETS and NJ state technology standards. In addition to typical instruction in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, classes include assistive technologies including OS-level text-to-speech software, Inspiration, Dragon Dictate, and Learning Ally’s software. Students also explore their creative sides, creating music in GarageBand and making movies in iMovie. Keyboarding skills are an integral part of the curriculum and are practiced using UltraKey at the beginning of each lesson and reinforced with prompting during the remainder of the class period.
Classes also integrate the principles of Design Thinking, a student-centered pedagogical tool introduced by the Nueva School in Hillsborough, CA and Stanford University. Design Thinking encourages students to focus on process, rather than product and allows students to learn by doing. Design Thinking in education teaches concepts through exploration, prototyping, investigation, problem solving, brainstorming, and collaboration. These 21st-century skills are essential for students, especially in our rapidly changing times. Students are encouraged to continue to ask “what’s next?” as they learn through inquiry and projects.
This course is taught as a combination of classroom instruction and practical application via our largely student-run popcorn business, in which all students participate. This provides a broad, recurring exposure to concepts ranging from what is “credibility” and “responsibility” (not only what do they mean on paper, but what do they mean in fact when you have to perform a job) to preparing and updating a budget and profit and loss statement in Excel.
The course has a heavy emphasis on literacy. Students are expected to develop an understanding of over 200 fundamental financial concepts and terms via in-class and web-based exercises in Quizlet.
Main concepts addressed in the course are: distinguishing needs from wants, budgeting and managing money, basic household and business finance, banking, what government programs do and how they are financed, consumer and workplace protection, identification and management of risk and insurance, understanding and avoiding fraud, stock market and investments, fundamentals of business and entrepreneurship.
The classroom program emphasizes interaction and dynamic thinking, collaboration and working in teams, scavenger hunts and gentle competition. Weekly homework requires students to conduct surveys, do research, and develop critical thinking skills.
The Flex Class Program
The Newgrange School offers all of our students an opportunity to participate in an extracurricular program which we call the Flex Class. This class gives students a chance to ‘flex’ some of their non-traditional, non-academic strengths. Twice a week students are involved in such diverse activities as a chess club, art projects, the school’s choir, our annual musical, creative writing, abstract painting, creating iMovies, using technology to create designs, studying the inner workings of professional and college level sports, interacting socially through activities on the Nintendo Wii, community service projects such as creating toys for dogs and cats kept at a local animal shelter. Each class is run by a classroom teacher and the selection of classes comes from staff and student ideas. The selection changes with each marking period so over the course of a school year students can participate in up to four different activities. (During the other three days of the week students participate in a tutorial class where they can receive extra help with any of their other classes.) The primary focus of the Flex Class program is to give students a chance to be creative, to discover new strengths and talents, and to reaffirm the fact that each and every one of our students is a successful and productive person.
Special Learning Programs
The Newgrange School offers a wide variety of programs to aid students with special needs throughout their education. We customize our programs to the needs of the individual student, helping them to unlock their fullest potential. Our team includes speech-language pathologists, teachers certified in non-verbal techniques for children with disorders found on the Autism spectrum, and occupational therapists. We aim to help special needs students plan for their futures. At The Newgrange School, our lessons focus on coordinating student’s needs into their daily studies, such as recognizing personal strengths, practicing social skills, and developing goals.