Los Feliz Charter Middle School for the Arts (LFCMSA)
Los Feliz Charter Middle School for the Arts is a place where students, teachers, parents, and the community collaborate to create a nurturing and inspiring learning environment where students can develop academic and life skills through creativity, inquiry, investigation, and reflection. Our arts integrated curriculum nurtures curiosity, confidence, collaboration, resilience, and civic engagement, enabling students to approach learning in different ways. Through project-based, constructivist learning, students are able to take risks and be actively engaged in their learning experience. In addition, LFCMSA endeavors to become a model arts integration school and training facility that shares best practices and impacts our educational system and community.
What is Project Based Learning?
Project-based learning is a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge. LFCMSA Teachers work in grade level teams to design units that employ project-based methods. Lessons on specific academic-related skills such as reading, writing, mathematical reasoning, scientific experimentation, and analysis will engage students because the skills will be presented as practical tools necessary for the completion of their project, not ends, in and of themselves, being learned in a vacuum. As students work through the project, they will be acquiring and exercising problem-solving and critical thinking skills in practical situations. Students will be given choices within each project in order to give them ownership of the learning process. With assistance from teachers and peers, learners will develop new insights, assimilate new ideas, and generate strong connections to previous learning. In addition, the student’s learning will have a public unveiling that will allow projects to be shared with family members, community members, and experts working in the related field of study; thus, students increase core competencies and improve practical skills, as well as complete a tangible, authentic project.
What is constructivism?
Constructivism is a learning theory that is rooted in the idea that individuals construct new knowledge from their experiences. Because each learner is a unique individual, with his/her own learning style, interests, and background, each learning experience is received and perceived differently. Constructivist practices promote problem solving, reflection, and multiple perspectives. By allowing for different perspectives and interpretations of learning, students are able to learn that the world is complex and that there are different ways to solve a problem. Innovation and creativity comes from analyzing different solutions for their strengths and then applying them to foster the best possible outcome. At LFCMSA, such practices are evidenced in our use of Developmentally Responsive Middle Grade Practices from Taking Center Stage – Act II, differentiated instruction, project-based learning, and interdisciplinary methods like Scottish Storyline and Different Ways of Knowing.
How many students in the middle school program?
For 2018-19, we are projecting a class of 75 students. We will add one new grade level each year until we reach eighth grade. At the end of the charter term, we will serve students in 6th through 8th grades, with a total enrollment of 225 students.
How many students in a class?
We anticipate a 25:1 ratio. Because we are a small school and need to maintain enrollment for budget purposes, if a grade level is shy a few students, we would increase to 27:1 if needed.
How will LFCMSA be different than LFCSA Elementary?
We will continue with engaging students using methods that are aligned with our core values, differentiated methods, and interdisciplinary curriculum. The largest experiential changes is that students will have a different pattern of schedules, and will be interacting with all three teachers in the grade level team, along with the Arts and PE specialists. Also different will be the depth and complexity of the tasks, as students in middle school are more independent and have stronger skill sets to draw from when applying to learning.
At a comprehensive middle school students have lots of electives, how will LFCMSA address this being a smaller program?
Students will dive more deeply into the “electives” at each grade level. Students, with support from the adults, can create their own clubs if there is interest in working on something specific (e.g. modern band, ceramics, wood working, choir). We will be exploring various ways to help students get broad exposure as well, and we are open to ideas from our stakeholders.
What field trips will there be?
Each grade level will have field trips that are connected to their project’s learning, whether core content or arts standards related (e.g. 6th grade World History and Ancient Civilizations: Trip to Museum of Tolerance to analyze historical patterns and analyze connections to “modern day” issues; 6th grade Next Generation Science Standards – The Roles of Water in Earth’s Surface Processes or Global Climate Change: Scripps The Climate Challenge.)
What is the balance with project-based work and content area learning?
Students will have a blend between focused content classes, and integrated subject times. Much of the project-based work will occur during the larger block times.
How can my child get extra support or enrichment?
Students will have a section of time that is devoted to either having extra support or enrichment lessons and activities.
What is the vision for technology use?
LFCMSA believes in integrating technology, rather than having a computer lab. In thinking about integration, we believe that the computer should be used as a tool, like a pencil, and should be accessible to for use in the classrooms. For example, you wouldn’t create a “pencil lab” for students to go, and it makes little sense to have a room dedicated to one particular learning tool. Our use of technology has shifted from game-like programs to mostly research, publishing, and media editing activities. The values basis for our use of technology is that it is a student-controlled utility for researching, communicating, and creating, rather than a computer-controlled program that students have to “go through.” The school will utilize mobile laptop carts, iPods, and other devices as tools for their learning.
How do I enroll?
If you are interested in enrolling, we have a small number of seats available at this time. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 323-539-2810 for information.