While interaction and collaboration takes place across grade levels throughout the year, instruction at the Museum School is generally divided among three tiers of learning: Kindergarten through 2nd grade, 3rd through 5th grade, and the middle school program, grades 6 – 8. The K-2 tier is predominantly a contained classroom model in which the students remain with their teacher throughout the day, visited by enrichment class teachers providing a consistent daily environment for our young learners. In the 3rd – 5th grade tier, students begin to move from classroom to classroom for instruction from a variety of teachers and instructors throughout the day. Students are in grade level groupings for certain subjects and in mixed aged groupings for other subjects throughout the day. Similarly, students in the middle school program travel from class to class in a block schedule receiving instruction from an experienced team of instructors.

See below for more specific information on the curriculum for each tier by expanding the boxes

K-2 Curriculum

Language Arts

The Museum School offers a literature-based reading program with developmentally appropriate language arts skills, including phonics, comprehension, and fluency. We emphasize the joy and richness of the language and written word through a variety of genres. We stress the importance of reading to and with children and integrating reading in all subject areas. We recognize that learning to read is a skill that involves order and progression to master. In the primary grades the reading program is comprised of a variety of resources and student materials such as reading series, anthologies, novel units, teacher-created materials, and teacher resource books. Children will be instructed through the Wonders K-5 ELA program a balanced, comprehensive English language arts program.Wonders is designed to meet the challenges of today’s classroom and reach all learners. Combining research-based instruction with new tools to meet today’s challenges, every component and every lesson is designed for effective and efficient instruction. A wealth of print and digital resources provide support for

  • Building a strong literacy foundation including making meaning, phonological awareness, phonics, word recognition and fluency

  • Accessing complex text

  • Finding and using text evidence

  • Engaging in collaborative conversations to develop language

  • Writing to sources

This program incorporates basic processes and instruction methods that involve both independent and interactive reading and writing experiences:

  1. Reading Aloud to Children

  2. Shared Reading

  3. Guided Reading

  4. Paired Reading

  5. Independent Reading

  6. Language Exploration

  7. Writing and Reading: The Balanced Writing Program

The writing curriculum combines five major elements: handwriting, language patterns, grammar, composition and creative writing and journal writing. Learning correct and appropriate language patterns gives the student the skills needed for communicating. Composition skills develop as students are taught the process of writing. This process is integrated into all subject areas at each developmental level. These skills may be used creatively in the student’s original work in story writing, poetry, and other artistic forms.Journal writing then provides the tool to present this work effectively; it enables students to experience their own growth in eloquence with language and see graphically the results of their work.Listening and speaking form the basis upon which communication is built. Listening skills fall into four categories: informational, analytical, appreciative, and judgmental. Students practice and perfect their skills in each area. Speaking for the purpose of self-expression helps students grow into effective communicators.Conversational skills, group discussion skills, self-expression techniques, and speech presentation are integral to the oral communication curriculum that students learn across the subject areas.It is our intent to meet the individual needs of our students through careful, formal assessment and continuous observation.. Our program meets the multi-levels of our students while remaining more self-contained in nature. However, children may rotate to another classroom for a language arts group which best meets his/her needs.


In Kindergarten through 2nd Grade the Museum School uses the Progress in Mathematics program published by Sadlier. Progress in Mathematics provides rigorous content focused on building deep conceptual understanding of key math skills and concepts at each grade level. Combining individual and group lessons that incorporate both hands on manipulatives and engaging workbook lessons.

Primary Enrichment Classes

Our primary grade students (K-2) will receive enrichment classes throughout the week including:

Sewing/Fabric Art – Students will work with Krystina Grammatica using fabrics to create a variety of items while developing fine motor skills and a sense of design techniques.

Physical Education – Working with our PE teacher, Adam Roberts, students develop gross motor skills while having fun, learning to cooperate in active games and skills based activities

Music – Students will work with Center for World Music teaching artist, Natasha Kozaily, in developing musical rhythm through solfege,and exploring instruments and songs, while learning folk songs from the US and Cayman Islands. Students will also learn to play the Indonesian gamelan, through the Center for World Music’s teaching artist, Andrea Hernandez.

Art – Students will work with our credential art teacher, Jaleh Raissi to engage in a variety of techniques, tools and media. Projects are both individual and collective. Some projects are accomplished in one class session, while others involve a multi-step process that requires several sessions to complete. Students will study an Artist of the Month, learning about the artist, prominent works, and techniques. Students will then have the opportunity to create work based on the artist. Each student will have studied approximately 30 artists having graduated through the K-2 grade program.

Spanish Conversation – Students participate three times a week in small group Spanish lessons with a focus on conversation and reading.

3-5 Curriculum

Language Arts

The 3rd through 5th grade tier language arts program at the Museum School addresses students developmentally.

During the year, students are grouped in multi-age settings in order to receive instruction appropriate to their developmental level in language arts reading & writing. Rather than only considering grade level placement, this organization of materials and instructions allows us to scaffold for students and their needs.

As a team, the teachers collaborate to bring students to a “proficient” level in their language arts skills as defined by the California Standards in 5th grade and on our Museum School report card. It is a long-term goal for students as they continue their education at the Museum School, and approached as a destination along a continuum in language arts development.

Students are initially evaluated by their reading level on a standardized assessment tool (ARI), or DIBELS. As students progress through the reading groups and language arts program, teachers make recommendations for placement based on reading & writing skills, production, maturity, and grade level.

There are three level groups. The first group, addresses the needs of many of our incoming third graders providing more highly scaffolded instruction in phonemic awareness, foundation building in the basic rules of grammar and mechanics, developing core skills in reading, etc. building comprehension and knowledge.

The next two level groups focus on reinforcing those basic skills and build upon our students abilities to refine those areas of applied understanding, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation in reading and writing.

Children will be instructed through the Wonders K-5 ELA program a balanced, comprehensive English language arts program.

Wonders is designed to meet the challenges of today’s classroom and reach all learners. Combining research-based instruction with new tools to meet today’s challenges, every component and every lesson is designed for effective and efficient instruction. A wealth of print and digital resources provide support for

  • Building a strong literacy foundation including making meaning, phonological awareness, phonics, word recognition and fluency

  • Accessing complex text

  • Finding and using text evidence

  • Engaging in collaborative conversations to develop language

  • Writing to sources

During the final trimester of the year focus will be given to Personal Learning Projects (PLP) where students research, write a project paper, and present their learning and a creative project connected to their topic of interest to the rest of the student body.

Language Arts is also supported in the Departments where students will use their reading and writing skills to gather information and work on a project to share what they’ve learned. Students read recipes and instructions, they read for information about various body systems, biomes, famous historical events and figures, they write plays, songs, and reports. They read out loud and practice their oral presentation skills.

The Departments models “learning how to learn” so that students can approach their PLP with many ways of research and presentation.


Students in grades 3-5 use the Envision Math Program, through Pearson Publishing. Tied in with the Common Core Standards, it uses a problem based approach in the exploration of number sense, allowing for a multi-faceted approach of looking at the way numbers work. On any given day, the students may be using manipulatives and technology to discover the natural tendencies of formulae and develop deeper understanding of the relationships that occur in mathematics.

Students may access the student reference books and play games online, and parents can look up the corresponding pages if they have any difficulty in understanding the assignment. Directions on how to access the online components of the Envision Math Program will be provided to students and through teacher PowerSchool Learning pages.

Homework assignments generally do not take much time as the program focuses more on accuracy and understanding as opposed to volume of work.

Project Based Learning – ‘Departments’

As part of the Museum School’s regular curriculum, all upper grade (3-5) students engage, for six hours per week, in project-based departments. Each student is a member of a multi-aged team that works together for 30 weeks out of the school year. The team rotates through five different departments, working in each department for a consecutive six-week period. Each year, to match the needs of the students, and to most efficiently make use of resources available, the departments may change focus. For the 2013/2014 school year our kids will work in the Drama Department, Evolution Department, Ancient Civilizations Department, National Parks Department and the Kitchen Science Department.

The department teams work with a facilitator/teacher in constructing a goal for themselves. The team works on developing the goal, conducting research and exploratory activities to synthesize what they have discovered. The six-week period ends with a culminating activity in which the team presents what they have learned in their course of study in the form of speeches, photo-essays, videos, skits or feasts to the entire school community.

We invite you to attend Department Presentations. Please see the Calendar section for dates and times.

Upper Grade Rotations (3-5)

Each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, our upper grade students have the opportunity to attend four different rotations (two per day) plus a PE day. The rotations include:

PE – Students will engage in a range of rigorous and fun activities addressing skills, strength , balance and endurance. Our PE classes will be taught, this year, by Adam Roberts a credentialed PE teacher who holds his Masters of Arts in Teaching.

Homeroom – Homeroom teachers will have the benefit of working with their homeroom classes in smaller groups (13 students) to complete projects, conduct assessments, student conferences, Socratic Seminars and other activities.

Art – Students engage in a variety of techniques, tools and media. Projects are both individual and collective. Some projects are accomplished in one class session, while others involve a multi-step process that requires several sessions to complete. Basic elements of art and design are practiced at appropriate grade levels.

Sewing – Students will enjoy creating useful items out of recycled materials while developing useful, fine motor skills that promote creativity and practicality.

Music (World Music) –All students in grades 3-5 will participate in our school’s gamelan program taught by Center for World Music artist, Andrea Hernandez. Each student will receive a well-rounded overview of world music, while focusing with exposure to traditional western instruments too. In addition, students will learn elements of western traditions through music notation, rhythm & pitch, solfege and learn instruments such as recorder and ukulele with visiting artist, Natasha Kozaily.

Spanish Conversation – Students participate three times a week in small group Spanish lessons with a focus on conversation and reading.

6-8 Curriculum


The goal of the Museum Middle School curricular structure is to capitalize on the natural curiosity of adolescents at an age when they are becoming increasingly aware of the larger world around them. A mix of student-centered instructional methods, such as project-based learning, inquiry-based activities, and student presentations, strengthens students’ critical thinking skills. In an information age, a variety of learning opportunities is essential for healthy civic engagement with the society that these students will inherit as adults.

The school motto, “Learning together, learning for life,” is actively pursued through the curricular methodologies of the various disciplines. At all times, students are encouraged to develop a relationship to society that is ethical, humane, and engaged. Middle School students, in the process of developing an awareness of a larger world and searching for their own place within it, demonstrate a natural and burning curiosity about the world when they are provided with a forum in which to do so. Adolescents want to know about, discuss, and understand the world around them. An effective Middle School classroom is one that celebrates this curiosity and facilitates the discussions that the students yearn for. The interpersonal skills naturally explored in adolescence are therefore harnessed by channeling student energy and curiosity into conceptually complex work across disciplines.

A central component to the success of the Middle School curriculum is its ability to effectively enable students to recognize their own methods of learning. Students are encouraged to identify their own strengths and, through reflection, target skills that they wish to develop and enhance. Individual reflective work is facilitated through such activities as the revision process in written work, peer critique, student-led conferences, Presentations of Learning (POLs), and the advisory process.


The Common Core Standards for Middle School are directly addressed through a variety of rigorous and innovative curriculum structures that involves four major components:

  1. A standards-based curriculum in history, language arts, mathematics and science utilizes a block schedule, allowing time for a deeper exploration of concepts and ideas. Language arts classes rotate by trimester with successive focuses upon argumentative writing, literature, and informational materials. Cross-curricular lessons are created wherever feasible.

  2. Departments comprised of innovative, interdisciplinary, long-term projects that involve multiple grade levels and rotate throughout the school year. Some examples are drama, robotics, storytelling, study skills and stopmotion).

  3. Personal Learning Plans (PLPs) that involve individualized, inquiry-based, project-based learning. PLPs target research and writing skills, presentation skills, active involvement with community resources, and peer critique.

  4. Middle School students have weekly rotations comprised of instruction in art, physical education, and a project-based class.


Community building and opportunities for personal growth are integrated into the student’s academic experience in a variety of ways.

  1. Advisory Program: The middle school advisory program is a proactive, three-year process that encourages students to identify their own strengths and areas of challenge, both academically and socially. Students set manageable goals for themselves, work actively to achieve those goals, and reflect upon their growth.

  2. Class Trips: 6th grade students attend a four-day program at Camp Marston in Julian where a variety of fun and adventurous activities develop teamwork that carries over back at school. 8th grade students may participate in an optional four-day trip to San Francisco that mixes together fun team-building adventures with experiential learning tied directly into the humanities and science curricula.

  3. Associated Student Body: Middle School students have spearheaded several committees within ASB, such as a Dance Committee and a Yearbook team, that have considerably enhanced the school community and spirit. Such student innovation is central to the program philosophy, and proposals for new committees are always considered and encouraged.

  4. Collaborative Partnerships: The Middle School program actively seeks collaboration with community organizations and institutions wherever possible to enhance the learning experience. Partnerships have included such organizations as Edudance, Young Audiences of San Diego, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, San Diego River Park Foundation, ArtFORM, Merrill Gardens Retirement Home, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The museums in Balboa Park are accessible by walking and are utilized frequently for experiential learning. In general, the Museum School’s location in Banker’s Hill facilitates the use of the larger community of San Diego and its many resources.

  5. Student Mentorship: As a K-8 school with one classroom per grade level, students are given opportunities to learn from one another. Older students guide younger students in their learning.

  6. Presentation Skills: Middle School students have many opportunities to present their projects and learning to larger audiences. Repeated opportunities enable students to develop and refine their presentation skills in preparation for the world that awaits them as adults.

  7. Active Parent Involvement: Parent communication is highly valued and encouraged. Direct parent involvement through volunteering significantly enhances the Middle School program. Teachers and parents are considered to be partners in the education of Museum Middle School students.

Special Education Services

Beginning with the 2013/2014 school year, the Museum School applied and was accepted to become an LEA (Local Education Agency) within the El Dorado County Charter Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) approved by the State Board of Education in July 2007. The EL Dorado Charter SELPA serves Charter LEAs located out of geographic regions to the El Dorado County Office of Education. It is the goal of the Charter SELPA that all charter pupils with exceptional needs receive appropriate special education programs. The SELPA ensures compliance and assists Charter members according to the governance structure delineated in the Charter SELPA Local Plan.

The Museum School was also accepted into the San Diego Charter School Special Education Consortium, an organization that assists with Special Education support and professional development to 20 charter schools within San Diego County.

In collaboration with the the San Diego Charter School Special Education Consortium is able to provide a full continuum of services for qualifying students in the areas of Special Education.

For more information, contact:

Sandy Du-Song – Director

Rachel Hawkins – Director of Special Education/ Speech & Language Pathologist

Jillian Williams – School Psychologist

Christopher Soltero – Education Specialist, K-5

Nikki T – Education Specialist, 6-8

El Dorado Charter Special Education Local Plan Area

Mental Health Services

The Museum School has a full-time School Counselor and a part-time School Psychologist. Our School Counselor, Tiffany Yang, provides socio-emotional curriculum and conducts activities with all students throughout the school. Additionally, she provides both group and individual counseling to support students in academics and emotional needs. The Museum School also partners with SAY San Diego to facilitate mental health supports outside of the school when necessary. If you are interested in receiving services for your child, please contact Tiffany Yang at or contact the school’s Director, Sandy Du-Song: