The Durham Curriculum
Our Campus: Durham serves a wide array of students from various academic backgrounds and cultures. We believe that children learn best when they engage alongside students with different language and economic backgrounds. Approximately 50% of our students are identified as gifted and talented. Our rigorous curriculum is designed for varying levels of academic achievement and our primary tool for instructional delivery is the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) framework. Our school is proud to one of the few schools in HISD to offer both a Dual Language and an IB curriculum.
International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program: Durham Elementary became an authorized IBPYP school in 2015. The complex program ensures that our students are exposed to advanced level thinking through inquiry instruction and questioning skills. The components of the program also include a learner profile, learning the concept of international mindedness through understanding others’ differences, common assessment techniques, and action - the concept of taking responsibility and making a difference. Our students learn increasingly advanced skills in these areas and the culmination of their learning is the fifth grade “Exhibition”. Exhibition requires students to engage in a collaborative, transdisciplinary inquiry process that involves them in identifying, investigating and offering solutions to real-life issues or problems. To learn more or to apply to this program please visit the IB Application Page.
Dual Language Program: Durham Elementary school offers the dual language program to students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through second grade. The Dual Language Program is both an additive bilingual program for Spanish-speaking students and foreign language immersion program for English-speaking students. In Two-Way classrooms, a combination of native Spanish Speakers and native English speakers are taught together in an effort to develop full bilingualism, bi-literacy, and bi-culturalism, for both groups of students. At Durham Elementary, we implement the 50/50 Dual Language model, which means that 50% of instruction is in English and 50% is in Spanish. Please visit the Durham DL Student Showcase.
Science: Our strong science program utilizes a hands-on approach that allows our students to learn at the highest levels. All students receive science instruction both in the classroom as well as in one of our many outdoor learning spaces. IB units of inquiry focus a great deal on science objectives and our teachers use a number of supplemental materials, including hands-on science kits to teach more isolated skills.
Reading & Language Arts: Durham Elementary implements a guided reading program that is based on the idea that students should be instructed based at their current reading level. After assessments are done, staff members communicate to parents the level of the student in the area of independent and instructional reading, considering fluency and comprehension, as well as accuracy and expanded vocabulary. Our approach to spelling is also developmental and differentiated for instructional levels.
Math: Durham Elementary has chosen to utilize various instructional resources which include time for whole-group instruction as well as small group, partner, or individual activities. These activities balance teacher-directed instruction with opportunities for open-ended, hands-on explorations, long-term projects and on-going practice. Teachers provide additional supplements such as Everyday Math, Everyday Counts, Envision, and others as needed by individual students. Technological support comes through Every Day Math, IXL and a variety of educational math websites. Common formative and summative assessments help guide teachers in their instructional practice and allow parents to be informed of student progress.
Social Studies: Our students learn much in the area of social studies through PYP unit planners. In addition, objectives not covered in IB planners are taught in each grade level based on our district and state guidelines. American History, Global Geography, and connections to current local, national and world events are able to be viewed throughout the hallways and online via our Living Tree network.
Enrichment Curriculum: All students attend Spanish, Music, Art, and P.E. Students receive a minimum of 30 minutes per day of physical activity. In addition, students have on-going access to laptops via multiple mobile labs, iPads, and classroom computers. Students also have the support of a nurse, literacy coaches, Special Education faculty and instructional specialists.