We employ a blended learning approach, where students participate in both traditional instructor-led, face-to-face activities and self-guided computer-based instruction. Through this approach, we address all learning styles to meet the varying needs of our students.
We use Positive Youth Development in our instruction, encouraging students to have a say in their activities and take on leadership roles. This helps our instructors build rapport with our students, making them feel safe, respected and heard. By combining this type of hands-on instruction with tailored online curricula, we encourage students to learn more actively and at their own pace, increasing academic outcomes.
For our online instruction, we use IntelliSeeds, a highly interactive online tool that accounts for differences in learning styles and speed, maximizing student gains throughout the year. We provide individual credentials to parents, enabling students to continue practicing math, reading, logical reasoning, and critical thinking skills outside of program hours, and we develop custom reports for parents to track their students’ growth.
In addition to using IntelliSeeds to teach reading, math, and critical thinking skills, we incorporate technology into everything we do. Our students live in an increasingly digital world and we want to give them the skills and exposure they need to succeed. While our students have experience with smart phones and tablets, many lack keyboarding skills that are vital for success on computerized standardized tests and in future academic ventures. For example, we use Typingclub.com to develop a high level of comfort using computers and improve typing speed and accuracy in our students.
We offer a 2:1 student-to-computer ratio when in-person. We also leverage YouTube videos, web-based games, and an online library to supplement our curriculum. Our Parent Engagement Team shares information with caretakers about accessing these resources to help learning at home.
Our academic programming increases student exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). Each week, students participate in Common Core-aligned, hands-on STEAM lessons designed to expose them to science, technology, engineering, art, and math at an early age. Studies demonstrate that students of color express the same interest in STEAM as their white peers, yet they often lack the opportunities and family resources to access STEAM education. Because of this, our budding scientists participate in labs that require them to use STEAM skills to examine a problem or research question. This fosters interest in STEAM and inspires students to think about potential careers as scientists, engineers, and more.
The integration of social/emotional learning has numerous benefits for students. Studies show it improves academic achievement by an average of 11 percentage points, increases prosocial behaviors (such as empathy and sharing), improves student attitudes towards school, and reduces depression and stress among students. At The Fishing School, students learn the value of self-esteem, manners, confidence, and determination through guided group activities. Through our curriculum units (School Success, Perseverance, Self Esteem and Establishing Positive Behaviors, and Taking Care of Yourself), students define specific life skills and understand how to apply them in their day-to-day life. We further reinforce positive social skills through Friday Fins Awards where youth are publicly recognized for positive behavior.
We use Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) as a foundation to raise college awareness in our participants and encourage students to see college admission as a long-term, achievable goal. Students partake in activities that explore specific universities and assess their interests, strengths, and academic habits with college in mind.
Students participate in clubs and various co-curricular experiences throughout the year. These clubs provide additional time for developing personal talents, reinforcing math and reading skills, and building positive social skills. Through their involvement in clubs, students learn about topics of interest and have a voice in guiding club activities.
- Fitness Club: The Fitness Club introduces students to the dynamics of fitness and healthy living. The Fishing School students participating in Fitness Club learn how to make healthy food and physical fitness choices and study sportsmanship and mindfulness techniques. Students also develop their strength, flexibility, rhythm, balance, and stress-management through progressive conditioning, yoga/meditation, and aerobic dance.
- Tech Club: The Tech Club equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in the digital economy. Students are exposed to a variety of computer skills that they can utilize later on in life, including coding, website design, music production and editing, songwriting, and graphic design.
- Do It Yourself (DIY) Club: The DIY Club teaches students to creatively transform common household items and things found in nature into art or something useful. Students who choose this club draw on skills from art, history, science, math, and engineering to engage in a wide array of activities including crafts, scavenger hunts, hiking, and science experiments.
- Sports Club: The goal of Sports Club is to introduce and define everyday sports to our students. The major themes are basketball, kickball, and drills. Students who participate in this club develop physical fitness by maintaining and increasing their speed, flexibility, muscular strength, and muscular endurance. They will also develop an ability to observe, analyze, and judge the performance of self and peers in sporting situations. Additionally, they will get the opportunity to develop leadership skills and foster qualities of cooperation, tolerance, consideration, trust, and responsibility when faced with group problem-solving tasks.
We use a number of strategies to promote literacy and lifelong love for reading. Children in grades 1-2 participate in read alouds while students in grades 3-5 do shared reading. Culturally responsive reading materials are specifically chosen to align with our academic and life skills activities. We use Epic, an online library, to increase access to books and reading materials for students at home.