Rocketship Stands With Dreamers / Rocketship está del lado de los dreamers

by Preston Smith
Co-Founder and CEO, Rocketship Public Schools

Dear Rocketeer families,

All of us at Rocketship are outraged by President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In six months, more than 800,000 young adults who came out of the shadows for the promise of a path to citizenship could lose their student and work visas and are at risk of deportation. Our families, students, alumni, staff, and communities are directly threatened by this action.

We proudly stand with our DREAMers and will continue to fight for them. This fight is at the core of our Rocketship movement. It’s a fight for equality for all children.

(version español abajo)

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Personalized Learning in the Classroom Comes in Many Forms

by Keya Lamba
Senior Associate, Personalized Learning

At Rocketship, we have always valued personalized learning as a core part of our instruction, integrating blended learning programs into our instructional model to meet the needs of each and every Rocketeer.

In a typical classroom, you will see one teacher teaching the same content to 25-30 students. In this whole group structure, it is near impossible to tell what content every student is comprehending and what gaps in understanding specific students may have. At Rocketship, we define personalized learning as an instructional approach where whole group instruction is more purposefully utilized (i.e. social-emotional lessons that are developmentally appropriate and require a large group or team), and Rocketeers engage in learning that is targeted to their individual academic and personal needs. While technology allows us to efficiently assign aligned conteIMG_5878nt and track growth, online tools do not solely define our personalized learning model. Rather, the authentic partnership of teacher insights, student agency, online tools, and data systems allow us to really give each learner what they need to succeed. Thus, personalized learning lives in all parts of the day, including, but not limited to: small group instruction, peer group projects, pull out groups with ISE (Integrated Special Education) specialist, leveled homework, Tier II interventions in the Learning Lab, and online learning programs (OLPs).
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Empowering Our Girls to Share Their Truth

by LaToya Fernandez
Social Justice and Culture Teacher, Rocketship Discovery Prep + Queen Hype Founder

“She goes to school. Feels uncertain about who she is. Tryin to hide behind the curtain so she lashes out. Out of fear of bein’ known, inside and out.”

“Jagged” by Queen Hype from SJ Digital Arts on Vimeo.

These words come from our Rocketeers’ work in Queenhype’s award-winning short film “Jagged.” The girls who wrote, directed, and starred in this movie are only 6-12 years old. Yet they used their voices and their art to show the struggle of a young girl, in school and in her community; to be okay with who she is. The girl eventually embraces who she is, inside and out, with the help of her other ‘queens.’ Queenhype partnered with San Jose Digital Arts to write and shoot this first short film to bring awareness to mental illness and violence in socio- economically disadvantaged communities.

QueenHype is an empowerment club that acts as a safe space for girls to confront their insecurities and move forward from them by establishing a strong sense of self-love and purpose. The skills we’re developing in QueenHype are improving not only their personal lives, but also their academic success, putting them on the path to tackle college and their careers with courage. QueenHype inspires our female Rocketeer students to find their voice, their confidence, and their reason to make their mark in history.

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Rocketship Schools Named Top Bay Area Public Schools for Underserved Students

by Beyond Editorial Staff
The accolades keep rolling in for our Rocketeers! In the fall, Innovate Public Schools released their 2016 report titled “Top Bay Area Public Schools for Underserved Students.” Their findings show that for the third year in a row, the majority of Rocketship schools made their lists for top schools closing the achievement gap. Six Rocketship schools in San Jose made at least one list of top schools getting results for low-income Latino or African-American students. In math results for low-income Latino students, six Rocketship schools made the list of the top 18 schools, the most of any district or charter management organization. We are so proud of our Rocketeers who are beating the odds and getting on the path to college and career. This report is just one of many testaments to the results our Rocketeers achieve through their hard work and dedication.
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Kindergartners Conquering Personalized “Quests” Learn To Love Reading

by Lauren Berry
Kindergarten Teacher, Rocketship Redwood City Prep

Anyone who’s worked to teach kindergarteners how to read knows that it can be a slippery challenge. Their squirmy bodies are full of energy, which can make it difficult for them to sit still through reading instruction, let alone through an entire text that they’re still struggling to understand.

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Frustrated, Curious, Optimistic: How Teaching Social-Emotional Learning Benefits Students & Teachers

by Alyssa Warren
Senior Associate, Rocketship Schools Team
Aiden and I started the year off strong. At our home visit before the school year had started, we played “Chutes and Ladders” and ate ice cream and he showed me all of his books, reading the title of every single one. He was a new first grader, excited to start at a new school with uniforms, multiple teachers, dancing, and his big brother across the hall. Aiden was a quick learner, eager to participate, and always winning new friends at recess with his bright eyes, wide smile, and silly jokes. Continue reading

They Shoot, They Score: Rocketship’s Annual Special Olympics

by Emma Brady
Associate Director, Integrated Special Education

Goooooooal! Last Friday’s Special Olympics soccer tournament was a day sure to be remembered by many.  Cheers erupted from all sides of the soccer fields while students raced past family, friends and teachers on the sidelines to make that coveted goal for their school team. This tournament marked Rocketship’s second partnership with the Special Olympics.

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Coding for the Future: Hour of Code

by LaToya Fernandez
Teacher, Discovery Prep

Next week, Rocketeers will be celebrating Computer Science Education Week by joining in the “Hour of Code,” an international coding educational event. With this early introduction to coding, young Rocketeers can nurture their problem-solving and logic skills and express their creativity. Our students will become the future of medicine, politics, law and education. A solid STEM foundation will help them continue on a college-bound path and open up doors to careers in the sciences. Continue reading

Boys to Men: Mu Phi Gamma Fraternity

by Cameron Frazier
Teacher, Nashville Northeast Elementary

Great schools do more than teach kids how to read and write. They teach kids to engage, think critically and lead. When I first began teaching, I realized many of boys had room to improve both their academic and leadership skills. So, in October of 2012, I partnered with two colleagues at Matthew W. Gilbert Middle School in Jacksonville, Florida to unite the male population at our school. We envisioned a program that would help build the boys in our school into young men. Modeled after a fraternity, we focused on the pillars of scholarship, brotherhood and leadership. When I began teaching at Nashville Northeast Elementary in 2015, I extended the organization and created the Beta Chapter. I’m proud to share Mu Phi Gamma has already made an impression on our campus. Currently the Beta Chapter is impacting  18 young men. The Mu Phi Gamma Rocketeers participate in community service projects, tutoring, brotherhood gatherings, awareness seminars and have even formed a step dance group.

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December is Love of Reading Month!

by Brooke Pfaff
Associate Director of Humanities

If you asked me to name three of my favorite things, it would be challenging, maybe even impossible. However if you let me cheat a little, I would simply say books. Please just don’t make me say which three. That wouldn’t be fair to the others.

Growing up, my family had a Tuesday routine. Every week, for two hours, I felt like the luckiest girl. Continue reading

A Look into our Personalized Learning Toolbox

by Stephen Pham
Senior Associate, Personalized Learning

Here at Rocketship, we strive to deliver personalized instruction to our Rocketeers, giving them the right level of academic support right when they need it. By strategically leveraging teacher-led instruction, in-class activities, small-group instruction and our suite of blended learning programs, we do our best to balance the modalities of learning and give every student the academic supports they need.

Zooming into our blended learning programs, you’ll find that we don’t just depend on one online program to meet all of the needs of our students. Rather, we utilize a suite of programs – our personalized learning toolbox. After putting these programs through methodical pilots, assessing their benefits based on a disciplined rubric and ensuring each fits into our suite, we’ve put together a group of programs that support our instructional model. Below, you’ll find an infographic that compares our online learning programs side-by-side and forms our comprehensive suite.

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A (Not-So-Secret) Formula for Incredible Student Growth

by Anna Layden
Teacher, Southside Community Prep

When one of my students, Sarah*, achieved the most growth in her grade, I wasn’t surprised. Her incredible drive to work hard always stood out; for a kindergartner, that level of dedication was unique for her. She came in wanting to learn and improve.

When Sarah also achieved one of the highest overall scorers on her middle and end of the school year assessments, I was in awe. Her success was a testament to how personalized learning, the right school environment and a dedicated team of educators can make an extraordinary difference in a child’s learning. Continue reading