Upper School Curriculum Overview
The Imago Dei School is committed to providing a supportive environment in which students with learning and developmental disabilities can develop intellectual, academic, spiritual, social, emotional and vocational skills. The Imago Dei faculty strives to assist each student, at their own level, to successfully access the rich variety of learning opportunities provided by Trinity and Imago Dei School courses, therapies and extra-curricular activities. We offer both an academic and functional skills program, and as students move throughout their Upper School years they will have increasing opportunities to explore vocational opportunities in our community. The Imago Dei School supports students’ efforts to become self-aware, self-advocating, strategic learners, reaching their potential to fulfill God’s unique purpose in their life.
- Group Educational Therapy
- Community Based Instruction and Travel Training
- World History and Geography
- Vocational Technology
Imago Dei offers functional and academic instruction in the are of English. The academic program offers a complete course in the fundamentals of writing. It begins with thorough instruction in the writing process, which serves as a springboard for learning how to write across domains. Some writing styles covered are essays, reports, poetry, persuasive writing and writing for job applications. The rules of spelling and vocabulary instruction are also reinforced throughout this course.
At the Imago Dei School we believe physical conditioning is a vital part of each individual’s development. God teaches us in His word that our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit and we have a great responsibility to take care of them. Learning these skills is especially important for our Imago Dei School students can have many different physical needs.
It is important for everyone to learn life long conditioning skills and basic nutritional facts to keep us healthy for life. Not only is this class important for physical development, we also believe the physical well being enhances the mental well being of each student. Starting the day with physical activity quickly engages the brain and activates neurons preparing them for learning! Each student acquires the following benefits from the conditioning class:
- Physical Fitness
- Mental alertness
- Individual and Team skills
- Eye-hand coordination
- Core balance
- Preparedness for Hart Games
- Ideas for life long conditioning programs
Imago Dei students participate with their Trinity peers in general education electives such as guitar, theater, handbells, art or computers. The Imago Dei School Principal and Upper School Principal will consult to find the best fit for Imago Dei School students with the support of Peer Mentors.
Group Educational Therapy
In order to develop successful, independent learners, Group Educational Therapy focuses on developing four key components – cognition, perception, academics and emotions. The focus of the individualized intervention is to strengthen the underlying causes of learning difficulties rather than simply treating the symptoms, which is what tutoring does. Educational therapy is a true therapy in that it aims the intervention just above the student’s level of functioning and raises expectations for performance.
Students in Group Educational Therapy receive small group intensive intervention. These sessions include a variety of techniques designed to address students’ specific areas of difficulty and to improve their overall ability to think, reason and process information. Techniques emphasize basic skill areas such as reading, writing, spelling and grammar, and applying reasoning skills within each area.
Students work with an educational therapist who is trained specifically in mediated learning and educational therapy strategies, primarily employing methodologies from the National Institute for Learning Development and Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment.
Community Based Instruction and Travel Training
Community Based Instruction (CBI) is incorporated as a core area of instruction in Imago Dei Upper School to facilitate preparation for independent living, working, and recreating in the community. Giving the students opportunities to work on travel training goals, CBI provides weekly outings utilizing the Santa Clarita Transit System with destinations intentionally selected to hit targeted vocational, community, and recreation/leisure goals. Travel training is an ongoing integrated aspect of Community Based Instruction. Keeping these goals in mind, students are given the opportunity to express places of interest within our community and assume an active role in the planning and execution of CBI outings.
The Vocational goals for CBIs are to develop employability skills such as:
- Staying on task
- Language/interview skills
- Following rules
- Calendar/technology skills related to work
- Being on time
The Community goals for our CBIs provide exposure to community sites as well as public transportation developing skills such as:
- Discerning the “how” and “why” of accessing community partners
- Accessing public transportation
- Navigating transit schedules and routes
The Recreation and Leisure goals for CBIs utilize exposure to public recreation options developing skills such as:
- Planning personal leisure time, and to
- Participating in recreational activities.
- Learning how to utilize public recreation options
Imago Dei students are enthusiastic about learning how to navigate their community in a manner that leads to greater independence.
Science courses begin with an introduction to the main themes of science and the scientific method. Courses move through Earth, Life, Physical and Biological sciences utilizing an interactive curriculum designed to stimulate curiosity and build a fundamental understanding of the scientific world as the Lord created it. Science, like all subjects, is taught through the lens of a Christian worldview.
Literature choices are designed to complement the classical nature of the student’s education. Designed to pair as closely as possible with the general education curriculum, most books are selected in abridged or “retold” versions to support the Imago Dei student’s reading level. Whenever possible, students join their general education peers for Socratic discussion of the text. Additionally, the understanding of literature is supported by the use of dramatic interpretation, Socratic discussion, and comprehension assessment. Reading fluency is also reinforced through the use of daily fluency practice using high interest accessible materials.
The Imago Dei Mathematics Program is different than any other currently offered. Utilizing differentiated instruction to meet each student’s individual needs exactly at their skill level, students continue to master math skills and learn how to use math in everyday life.
Throughout each class, students rotate in groups where they receive individualized instruction. For example, one station will have the instructor introduce a new lesson and students will learn and practice their skills side-by-side with their teacher. At another station, students are guided through group instruction with manipulatives such as money, dice, cards and dominoes. Students will also participate in calculator activities stressing consumer math scenarios together as a class.
Through differentiated instruction, students experience attainable challenges each day that allow them to experience success. The use of calculators, computers, iPads, and manipulatives provide them with fun ways to learn while developing life long math and technology skills!
World History and Geography
This course is designed to help students see the relevance of world history in their lives with stories of the world’s people, from the beginning of time to the modern day. Students will explore major historical, cultural, and geographical features of the world. The timeline of history will culminate with instruction in American History and Government. At the same time, students will continue to develop their skills in critical thinking, reading, writing, Socratic discussion and INB note taking and organization. Historical events will be discussed through a Christian worldview.
This class incorporates science, technology, engineering, and math (STEMS) into real life, hands-on learning. The concepts we focus on are Nutrition and Wellness, Graphic Design, Home Maintenance, and Culinary Arts. Each discipline is taught through a computer based module with an integrated curriculum. Students self navigate through web-based module that teach them new vocabulary, and technical examples of the module. Students follow online instruction and navigate specific manipulatives within the field of study. Through this class, students will learn valuable life skills leading them toward independence. Listed below are some examples of activities within each module:
- Nutrition and Wellness: Calculate resting heart rate and target heart rate, eating healthy by building a “healthy plate”, using a treadmill, measuring lung capacity, finding a pulse, taking a body temperature.
- Graphic Design: learning the many functions of the Corel Draw program. How to manipulate a graphic template, how to create a new graphic and save it, how to create designs for T-shirts, Using a heat press.
- Home Maintenance: electricity skills include; learning volts, ohms, watts, and amps. Distinguishing between AC and DC power, grounding a service panel, installing a circuit breaker into a service panel, wiring a receptacle, wiring a switch to a light, configuring a junction box. Plumbing skills involve; installing a sink, understanding pvc, copper, and pecs piping, how a water heater works, installing a sink faucet, unclogging a drain.
- Culinary Arts: Kitchen navigation, cooking appliances, kitchen safety, how to use utensils and pots and pans, cooking with gas or electricity, knife safety, shopping and recipes, grilling, frying, baking.