Core Curriculum

Core content at Deer Creek is designed to teach and develop lifelong skills through the Colorado learning standards, project-based instruction, social-emotional learning, and student choice.  Students engage with a challenging curriculum aligned to the Colorado Learning Standards, taught in the context of real-world application and project-based learning.   

Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning (PBL) is a curricular and instructional design that challenges students to learn through engagement in an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge.  PBL is a format that simultaneously develops critical thinking skills, creativity, civic and global engagement, content knowledge, communication, collaboration, and self-direction. The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning by supporting, guiding, and monitoring the learning process.


Problem Based Learning in Math

In order to learn mathematics, students should spend time in math class doing mathematics.  “Students learn mathematics as a result of solving problems. Mathematical ideas are the outcomes of the problem-solving experience rather than the elements that must be taught before problem solving.” (Hiebert, 1996)
In math classes at DCMS, students take an active role, both individually and in groups, to see what they can figure out before having things explained to them or being told what to do. Teachers play a critical role in mediating student learning, but that role looks different than simply showing, telling, and correcting. The teacher’s role is:

  • To ensure students understand the context and what is being asked,
  • Ask questions to advance students’ thinking in productive ways,
  • Help students share their work and understand others’ work through orchestrating productive discussions, and
  • Synthesize the learning with students at the end of activities and lessons.

    Vertical white boards are one way we help groups solve problems together.  In this way, students and the teacher can see all the math learning that is going on in the room and use student work to synthesize learning.


    Student Choice

    Providing choice in student learning is an important aspect of personalizing learning for each student, and a focus at Deer Creek.  In the core and elective areas, choice is provided through a variety of ways:

    • PBLs and other projects provide students with choices about their content focus, learning process, and/or demonstration of learning
    • Thematic units in English Language Arts (ELA) give students options for literature choices
    • Core content options in 7th and 8th grade ELA allow students choice in themes or genres they are most interested in pursuing - visit our Course Guide for more information 
    • Elective courses allow students to explore a range of electives, as well as avenues to focus on specific interests - visit our  Course Guide for more information 

    Social-Emotional Learning

    Deer Creek values the social-emotional development of all students, providing a variety of programs to support social and emotional learning (SEL).  

    Our Counselors provide support and instruction for all students through classroom, small group, and individual settings.  To give them familiar and consistent support, students keep the same counselor through their three years at Deer Creek.  Among the supports the counselors provide:

    • Coordinating the transitions from elementary and to high school
    • Consulting with students on academic needs
    • Addressing personal and social needs
    • Promoting and using restorative practices
    • Providing classroom instruction on various topics
    • Career planning through the Naviance system for high school and beyond
    • Intervening in crisis situations both at school and throughout the district
    • Meeting with their grade-level teams weekly
    • Collaborating with teachers to develop interventions
    • Managing student 504s and ALPs

    The Social Emotional Learning Specialist provides SEL support to all students by working collaboratively with staff to develop and deliver social and emotional instruction.

    • MindUP - The MindUP program is built upon four pillars - neuroscience, positive psychology, mindful awareness, and social-emotional learning - to promote positive mental health and well-being
    • Second Step- The program consists of four modules based on the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) competencies identified by researchers as critical to success in school, the workplace, and life in general: social awareness, self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.  The four modules are 1) Mindsets & Goals, 2) Recognizing Bullying and Harassment, 3) Thoughts, Emotions & Decisions, and 4) Managing Relationships &Social Conflict.
    • Random Acts of Kindness - Rooted in the belief that all people can connect through kindness and that kindness can be taught, Random Acts of Kindness follows a simple framework: Inspire -> Empower -> Act -> Reflect -> Share
    • Social Emotional Skills - weekly classroom meetings building community and kindness through connection with peers 
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