Academic Programming Model
Carson Elementary’s academic programming model is both unique and exemplary within Denver Public Schools. It is our privilege as a school to not only serve our K-5 traditional classrooms, but to also house the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center-Based Program in addition to being a magnet school for Highly Gifted and Talented in grades 3rd-5th. As our wonderful community continues to grow, we are creating a space for all of our neighborhood children by phasing out our HGT program completely by 2022-2023.
At Carson Elementary, we know that each child has unique needs, strengths, styles, and approaches to learning. In order to create environments in our classrooms that are inclusive and best support each child, our teachers utilize a small-group instructional model for core instruction. Our core instruction is fully aligned to the Common Core State Standards through our collaborative backwards planning processes. This means that students spend time in collaborative groups alongside similar skilled peers in order to receive a rigorous level of instruction, tailored to their performance levels. Students also spend time during their instructional day in mixed groupings engaged in learning connected to our Common Core State Standards. Through this mixed grouping model, our teachers are able to differentiate instruction for our students who are high achieving, on track, and needing more support.
Our teachers receive training from our Special Education team in order to better implement individualized scaffolds, accommodations, and modifications in the classroom.
In addition to this training, our Gifted and Talented Specialists have trained our staff in utilizing various strategies to increase the depth and complexity of tasks and learning.
Every child at Carson Elementary has an individualized academic experience so that they can grow and excel in all areas of learning.
At Carson, one of our major improvement strategies addresses meeting the needs of the whole-child through our implementation of the Zones of Regulation Curriculum. All teachers and specialists have been trained and are using various strategies to help students regulate emotions while recognizing that all emotions are OK. This curriculum is designed to support students in emotional regulation strategies, emotion identification, and self-advocacy skills.
Our school Psychologist uses a curriculum with our 5th graders called Riding the Waves. This curriculum focuses on building emotional skills within children, coping skills to deal with emotional stressors, encouraging students to seek help when they are concerned about the emotional well-being of peers, loved ones or themselves. She implements grade-level, age-appropriate lessons for many classes including: space invaders, mindfulness, Zones of Regulation journal strategies, and peace circles.
Lastly, we have many teachers who regularly utilize mindfulness strategies and approaches in their daily practices to support with transitions and regulations.
Gifted and Talented
Carson used to house a Highly Gifted and Talented Magnet program for grades 1-5. As our neighborhood has continued to grow, we created space for three traditional classrooms at each grade level by phasing out the HGT magnet program. In response to this shift, we have created a model to support the unique needs of our gifted students.
When considering class groupings, we ensure all students have similarly skilled peer groups to engage in academic content. Our teachers are trained and supported in accelerating, compacting, and enriching the curriculum to meet the needs of GT students, no matter which content area they are identified.
As we phase out the HGT magnet program, we are committed to meeting the affective needs of our GT learners. Our Gifted and Talented Specialist will meet weekly with children using a whole-child approach focusing on advocacy, executive functioning, problem solving, and goal setting. This GT support will benefit them within their classroom work where they will be receiving content instruction with like-ability cluster groupings as well as heterogeneous groupings. Teachers are consistently provided with resources that support the differentiation for our GT learners.
It is a priority in Denver Public Schools that all students who are learning English as a second language are supported at all times and in all settings. This is why all DPS teachers are required to take a series of ELA certification courses. Our teachers are all trained in supporting the language, vocabulary, and content knowledge of our students learning English. In addition to this support, our students see our ELA teacher every day for specific instruction based on their current levels of speaking, reading, writing, and listening.
Carson has an incredible Special Education Team committed to meeting the needs of our unique learners. We believe strongly in an inclusion model and work towards students being in the general education classroom as much as possible, while ensuring their needs are consistently met. We have two phenomenal Mild Moderate teachers who serve students through both push-in and pull-out models. Our related service providers, such as the speech-language therapist, occupational therapist, vision specialist, and physical therapist serve students on an itinerant basis. Students receive services according to their individual goals and services as outlined in their Individualized Education Program.
Deaf/Hard of Hearing Program
We are so proud to be the home of Denver Public Schools’ center-based program for students who are deaf/hard of hearing (DHH). Here at Carson, we provide intensive, language-based services to DHH students in grades ECE-5. Students in the program are placed by their IEP team and require the support of a Teacher of the Deaf to progress in their academics and communication skills. Our program serves to meet the goal of closing the language and vocabulary gaps of DHH students so they can access and succeed in the grade-level curriculum at a level commensurate to their grade-level, hearing peers. We subscribe to a comprehensive communication philosophy: the belief that all children, no matter their communication modality, deserve equitable access to communication and English language proficiency. We use our expertise in language development to meet each child’s individual communication needs, incorporating listening and spoken language, signed languages, Cued Speech, and combinations of these. Students in the DHH program spend parts of their day learning alongside their hearing peers in a variety of settings, including the traditional classrooms. Students are supported by our DHH paraprofessionals and Educational Sign Language Interpreters.