Our Program at La Academia

At Academia Antonia Alonso, we believe that how children learn is just as important as what they learn.

Our curriculum is framed around the unifying themes of biliteracy and active learning.  Project Based Learning and a Two Way Dual Immersion Program are the collective forces behind our curriculum.

Project Based Learning provides opportunities for student to learn through interactive, hands-on projects that spark curiosity, promote active learning, encourage teamwork, build character, and capitalize on children’s desire to explore.  Students engage in real-world issues, learn to make connections, understand diverse perspectives, develop conclusions, and generalize to big ideas.

All Academia Antonia Alonso students learn to speak, read and write in English and Spanish. Our dual language program starts in kindergarten, at an age when children learn languages easily, and continues through 5th grade.

Students spend half their time learning in English and half in Spanish. Reading and writing in both languages is integrated into all our expeditions and across all subject matters.  Students do not need prior knowledge of Spanish or English to enroll.

The first weeks of each school year are dedicated to the evaluation of students’ language and academic levels to ensure differentiated and learner-centered instruction. Students receive intensive vocabulary development in English and Spanish.  During this time, students also begin exploring the world through Project Based Learning to ensure that they start off the school year understanding the focus and goals of the school.


Dual Language Program

two-way-immersion-logoAs a Two-Way Immersion (TWI) school, Academia Antonia Alonso will provide students with a rich opportunity to become bilingual, biliterate, and multicultural.  TWI is a distinctive form of dual language education in which native English speakers and native speakers of another language are integrated for academic content instruction.  The Two-Way Immersion strategy has been found to be among the most effective long-term approaches leading to academic achievement for English Language Learners (ELLs)(1).  TWI is a program which will promote La Academia’s goals of bilingualism and biliteracy, grade-level academic achievement, and positive cross-cultural attitudes and behaviors in all students.  Both native English speakers and native Spanish speakers will be taught to read, write, and speak two languages. The successes of the TWI model include:(2)

  • Students become proficient in two languages and develop deeper cultural awareness.
  • Students in Two-Way Immersion programs achieve well above grade level, even years after their participation in the two-way immersion programs.
  • As demonstrated by the high correlations between students’ math abilities in English and in Spanish, content learned in one language is transferred to the other language.
  • Both native Spanish speakers and native English speakers in Two-Way Immersion programs perform as well or better than their peers educated in other types of programs, both on English standardized achievement tests and Spanish standardized achievement tests.

In addition to these benefits, native Spanish speakers benefit greatly from an environment in which their language is valued and considered a resource (3), while native English speakers gain from having two perspectives for problem solving, and reap the “personal, social, educational and economic benefits of the ability to communicate in multiple languages in a global society. Bilingual individuals have more career opportunities in their own and other communities.”(4)  In a dual immersion model of instruction, language learning – whether learning Spanish or English – promotes high levels of literacy across languages.  Furthermore, unlike pure ELL programs that approach non-English native speakers as a problem or deficit that needs to be filled with English, in the dual immersion school, proficiency in a first language becomes an additive component to the instructional program.  Both languages are valued because proficiency in both languages is required for school success.

  1. Source: Dual Language Education of New Mexico
  2. Trends in Two-Way Immersion, August. 2003, quoted in http://www.cs37.org/english/academics_language.php
  3. Dual Language Education of New Mexico
  4. Lambert, W. E. (1987). An overview of issues in immersion education. In Studies in immersion education: A collection for U.S. educators (pp. 8-30). Sacramento: California State Department of Education.


Project Based Learning Principles

project-based-learning-principles-logoWhat is Project Based Learning?

Buck Institute for Education   www.bie.org/about/what_pbl define Project Based Learning (PBL) as a method in which students gain knowledge and skills over an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. Successful focus on student learning goals and include the following Essential Project Design Elements:

  • Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills – The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, communication, collaboration, and self-management.
  • Challenging Problem or Question – The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
  • Sustained Inquiry – Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.
  • Authenticity – The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact – or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.
  • Student Voice & Choice – Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
  • Reflection – Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.
  • Critique & Revision – Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.
  • Public Product – Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.

For more detailed information, please view the Project Based Learning video below.