A Balanced Approach

The Willows embraces innovation—not change for the sake of something different–but innovation that energizes curriculum, creates a dynamic campus climate, lends a new perspective to learning, and generates an exceptional community of learners. Joined together, innovation and fundamentals are powerful learning tools that speak to the needs of our students. A structured curriculum, adaptable to change, is vital in our modern, ever-changing world. Learning at The Willows is a constantly evolving dialogue between student and teacher, not a predetermined path. 

Willows students are active, engaged learners who are encouraged to problem solve, think critically, ask questions, and take intellectual and creative risks. By thinking “out of the box” on a daily basis, our students see first-hand how the creative process works and how people collaborate to build on an idea.  At The Willows, students begin to understand the most important lesson of all: as a learner, anything is possible.

Where can you find innovation at work? 

Where can you find innovation at work?

In our approach to interdisciplinary learning, which supports the integration of the disciplines and collaboration among faculty. We believe that the most meaningful learning happens when children can make connections among the subject areas. Here are just a few examples of where you can see interdisciplinary learning in action:
  • Integrated Curriculum – In the Lower School, teachers take a thematic approach to learning by introducing multiple subjects under the umbrella of one topic of study. 
  • Middle School Core – an integration of English and History scheduled for two consecutive periods four times each week, which allows ample time for reading, discussion, and project-based learning.
  • Intersession –a two to three week session when the entire school explores a single topic in-depth from the multiple perspectives of science, mathematics, literature, history, and the arts in multi-age learning groups. Learning across these disciplines links science experiments, art projects, technology and music in a one-of-a-kind learning experience.
In the classroom, as teachers constantly refine the academic program.
Following rigorous academic guidelines for learning expectations at each grade level, teachers adapt their curricula, drawing from new resources and teaching ideas. With permission to innovate, teachers have the freedom to listen to their students, discover what they need, and develop appropriate lessons and materials. 
 
In our arts program, where students are provided the structure and skills needed to soar creatively, whether it’s composing their own music in electronic music classes, choreographing movement in a dance elective, or designing their own pieces for a school-wide recycled-material fashion show.
 
In our commitment to technology, which is relevant, student-centered, cutting-edge, and woven seamlessly into the curriculum, adding to the wonder and excitement of learning.  Computers join pencils, paper, and calculators as tools for learning in our 1:1, 24/7 Middle School Laptop Program and in our 1:1 Laptop Program in Kindergarten through fifth grade.  Multimedia digital resources in every classroom consisting of an interactive whiteboard and projector or a 60" Smart TV with interactive overlay.  iPads, iPods, ChromeBooks, Wacom tablets, a digital darkroom, digital still cameras, document cameras, table-top filmmaking materials, HD video and green screen technology, LEGO laboratory, Lily Arduino wearable electronic components for programming and science exploration, and programmable robots are examples of our wide range of tech tools.

In our dedication to STEAM and maker, which has long been a foundation of The Willows educational program that embraces the philosophy of creative problem solving, learning by doing, and design thinking. We continually enhance our maker and STEAM programs and launched our STEAM2(science, technology, engineering, art, math, and maker) program that is seamlessly integrated into our curriculum and allows students to fully engage in each discipline. We have two makerLabs, a designLab, STEAMStudio, and outdoor workspace and dedicated spaces in our Developmental Kindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms to empower students to develop a maker mindset and design thinking as they envision, prototype, design, build, rebuild, and share.
Willows students are active, engaged learners who are encouraged to problem solve, think critically, ask questions, and take intellectual and creative risks.

Highlights of Classroom Innovation

List of 8 frequently asked questions.

  • Looping

    Looping is implemented in our lower school. Students remain with their teachers for two consecutive school years (first/second grades, and third/fourth grades) to improve consistency in curriculum implementation and forge strong bonds between students and teachers.
  • Sound Reading System

    Sound Reading, a systematic approach to beginning reading instruction using sound/symbol associations, begins in Developmental Kindergarten and progresses in a structured way through fifth grade.
  • Electronic Music Program

    Our electronic music program integrates the arts, technology, and music and offers students an opportunity to develop a basic understanding of music theory and composition in a dynamic way. With teacher direction and support students work individually and collaboratively using G5 iMacs, keyboards, Garage Band software, and state-of-the-art recording equipment to create melodies with layered sound and multiple tracks. 
  • Middle School Gender Separation 

    Single-sex learning is practiced in two settings in our Middle School: math and physical education. Instruction in these two areas is tailored to the specific needs and learning styles of each group, offering a safe setting for learning that builds self-confidence.
  • Poet-In-Residence

    Students from Developmental Kindergarten through sixth grade meet with a poet-in-residence during a five-week program in which the study and writing of poetry is integrated with curriculum.  This program culminates in the annual all-school Poetry Night, an evening of performances of poetry, music, art, dance, and drama.
  • Rock Band

    “Rock Band,” is a middle school elective, where students couple their creative ideas with musical passions in the creation and performance of original, as well as popular music.
  • designLab, makerLabs and STEAMStudio

    Our Labs, makerspaces, and STEAMStudio are flexible-use lab spaces that offer students and teachers access to the newest, most exciting technology and maker materials on the market in a collaborative learning environment.
  • 1:1 Laptop Program

    In Kindergarten through eighth grade, each student is assigned his or her own laptop. Middle School students have a 24:7, 1:1 latptop program. Teachers fully integrate the laptops in class activities while also helping students to develop healthy, effective, safe habits for using technology in their daily lives.
The Willows  |  A DK-8 independent school serving greater Los Angeles.
8509 HIGUERA STREET
CULVER CITY, CALIFORNIA 90232
PHONE 310 815 0411 FAX 310 815 0425