High School students in biology. Photo courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

"One of the reasons why I love working here is we get to celebrate our students on a daily basis. Everything is very student centered. We get to celebrate their academic mastery and their personal growth. We get to celebrate the cultures and the assets that they are bringing to our school."

Justin Lopez-Cardoze, Instructional Coach and DC 2020 Teacher of the Year

At Capital City, the core elements of the instructional approach are consistent across the grades of our PreK – 12 program. These core elements include:

Deeper Learning

Research and evidence show that there is a critical set of skills that students will need to succeed in a changing world. These deeper learning skills — critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, communication and learning how to learn — are the core focus of instruction at Capital City. Through them we build a foundation in traditional academic subjects and foster an understanding of grade level content and skills.

Watch EL Education's video to see one of our approaches in action. 

Authentic Experiences

We believe that learning should be compelling for students and connected to the real world. Students in all grades engage in in-depth studies called learning expeditions. Through expeditions, students participate in fieldwork, meet with experts, engage in research and in turn become experts themselves. Students share their expertise with others through projects and by presenting their work to a real audience.

Learn about our 5th grade voter turnout fieldwork on NPR and The 74As part of their fall Humanities expedition, A More Perfect Union? Game On!, students studied the three branches of government, the constitution, and the history of the United States. In 2018, for the midterm election, 5th graders traveled to George Mason University to poll college students, canvas campus and encourage more people to get out and vote. Our young Eagles used their learning and voices to change the community and country in which they wish to live.

5th graders getting out the vote

Photo credit: The 74

Personalized Instruction

Our students are well known by their teachers and peers and are challenged and supported in their learning. Low student to teacher ratios, daily advisory or class meetings, on-going assessment of progress and strong parent-school collaboration support our approach to personalization.

Capital City classes use the workshop model to tailor instruction for individual students. A class typically begins with a whole-class mini-lesson in which new material is introduced. The bulk of the period is devoted to working on assignments and projects where students work independently or in small groups while teachers provide targeted assistance and assess student progress. At the end of the period, the entire class reconvenes to debrief the day’s work, share what they learned, and raise questions or topics for further investigation.

Middle school teacher and students

A Whole Child Approach

We believe in educating the whole child. We focus on a strong social curriculum where students develop social skills within the context of a nurturing community. We also believe the arts are vital to our whole child approach and support creative expression in all grades. Beginning in Pre-K, all students are provided instruction in visual arts, music and drama, and arts are integrated into the core curriculum.  We also support the health and wellness of students through a comprehensive sports and fitness program, health education, and building a healthy environment.

A 2016 EL Education video highlights our arts program as a national model. (Scroll to 6:25 to see arts at Capital City.)

Top photo of Capital City students courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action