The key goal of our Education and Research Program is to ensure that our students have access to high-quality curriculum and instruction so that they may meet or exceed the knowledge and skills outlined in the state’s academic content standards. The Bridge School provides systematic, personalized curriculum and instruction that encompass a broad range of knowledge, skills and abilities across all subject areas with concurrent emphasis on supporting students’ use of assistive technologies (AT), development of communicative competence with augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems, and attainment of self-determination skills. Viewing research as a resource to guide our practices, we adapt, customize, implement and document intervention approaches, curricular activities, and instructional supports and strategies in ways that best address the needs of our students in The Bridge School context and beyond.
The design of The Bridge School’s Education Program is guided by our values of:
This graphic illustrates the components of our Education Program. The ‘Bands of the Rainbow’ represent our curricular content areas that include all General Education Core Subjects for preschool and elementary grades and our three specialized areas.
Curriculum and instruction are influenced by more than content knowledge and specialized learning objectives. The “Towers of the Bridge” represent crucial areas and issues that support and connect a grade-level course of study for our students. In this area we outline the approaches and processes that we use to support a broad range of student learning and outcomes across each of the above content areas.
At each grade level we offer all required Core Subject areas for Preschool and Kindergarten through Grade 5. These subject areas or content areas (curriculum) describe the “what” our students need to know and do as a result of their educational experiences. “Curriculum embraces the broader meanings and purposes of education and represents the knowledge and skills identified as significant for students’ success and participation in their daily lives.” (Stump & Bigge, 2005).
Preschoolers thrive when they experience a curriculum that integrates all learning areas in ways that are motivating, predictable, meaningful, and developmentally appropriate. Our preschoolers’ daily schedule is carefully organized “activity by activity” versus by subject areas. All required core content areas for preschoolers are systematically addressed across the day and include:
The competencies described for preschoolers become more differentiated as children move into the elementary grades. Therefore, Core Subject areas addressed at the Elementary Grade level address California’s Common Core Standards. At the elementary grade level, our weekly student schedule is organized by core subject areas that include:
The outer bands of the rainbow represent Bridge School’s Specialized Curricular Areas.
Our curriculum and instruction is significantly enriched for our students by our additional focus on three specialized curricular areas: Mobility and Assistive Technology, Communicative Competence with AAC, and Self-Determination. For a variety of reasons, our students may require specific, systematic instruction in these specialized curricular areas to address essential content and skill development that:
Communicative Competence is considered an urgent, priority skill area for Bridge School students because proficiency with AAC/AT tools & strategies creates access, participation, motivation, and achievement in all curricular areas. AAC incorporates each student’s full communication abilities and may include any existing speech, vocalizations, or gestures, as well as the use of communication boards and Speech Generating Devices (SGD). In this section we describe how we address the full range of communication modes and technologies as our students participate in ongoing instructional activities and social interactions.
In order to meaningfully engage as active participants and access a full curriculum, Bridge School students learn to use a wide range of assistive technologies in the context of ongoing curricular activities. In this section of the website, we describe the implementation of assistive technologies used by Bridge School students in our preschool, elementary, and middle school grades and beyond. These areas include:
The Bridge School Self-Determination Curriculum provides students with the necessary tools and supports to become causal agents in their own lives through informed decision-making, thoughtful planning, and persistent action to achieve their goals. Becoming a self-determined individual involves learning about oneself, including one’s strengths and interests. It involves using this knowledge to make decisions, and then communicating effectively to establish oneself as the primary agent in moving forward toward goal setting, attainment of those goals and greater independence. Bridge School students learn to express their individuality using multi-modal communication strategies and devices and learn to assert their independence with the necessary assistive technology devices and supports in place.