Curriculum Overview


Y.A.L.E School Philadelphia’s curriculum incorporates the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) theory that emphasizes giving all students the opportunity to learn. By providing multiple means of representation, engagement, action and expression, students will be motivated and inspired in their learning. Y.A.L.E. School Philadelphia believes lessons should be differentiated in the way content is presented, how students express what they know, and kindle the desire and interest to learn more.

Our teaching philosophy is informed by the principals of “STEAM,” an acronym that represents an interdisciplinary approach to learning Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. Students will be immersed in these crucial 21st Century subject areas in collaborative and cooperative project-based lessons that encourage communication, exploration, and discovery. Y.A.L.E. School Philadelphia will give students access to cutting edge educational technology including iPads and specialized software to foster a truly integrated learning environment which will help prepare them for success in high school, college, and beyond.

Our curriculum emphasizes ongoing academic achievement. We use evidence-based teaching methods to maximize each student’s opportunities for intellectual, social, and emotional growth.

Students receive academic instruction in:

  • Reading, Writing and Language Arts
  • History and Social Studies
  • Mathematics
  • Science

Social skills instruction is an integral aspect of Y.A.L.E. School Philadelphia’s programming and is based upon Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking® framework. Because social communication and interaction can be the most difficult challenge to our students’ overall success in school, we conduct both intensive direct social skills instruction and constant incidental social skills teaching.

Reading, Writing and Language Arts

Students will demonstrate learning through various projects that allow individuals to showcase their knowledge in a hands-on way. Y.A.L.E. students will work in small groups on specific skills and strategies that are tailored to each individual’s needs as determined by formative assessments and informal observations made by the teacher. The students will also be able to choose activities to complete in stations that reinforce their skills and motivate them to become independent learners.

Because reading is challenging to so many of our students, certified reading specialists routinely consult with teachers to discuss student progress, monitor the effectiveness of instructional strategies, and, if needed, adapt instruction.

For students who need systematic instruction in phonics or other aspects of reading, Y.A.L.E. School Philadelphia uses specialized, evidence-based approaches. Our Wilson Reading System® certified reading specialists use a multi-sensory approach by teaching students how to segment individual sounds, use letter tiles to build words, read and spell phonetic words, sky-write high frequency words, and categorize word cards based on word structure. The Wilson Reading System reinforces fluency by teaching students to “scoop” groups of words in sentences into meaningful phrases using tactile activities. The program increases in difficulty as students progress because each step builds on previously mastered skills.

In Writing, Y.A.L.E. students will explore various styles of writing throughout the year by following the guidelines of writing as outlined in the Common Core State Standards. Students will analyze characteristics of good writing by interacting with mentor texts. They will use graphic organizers to organize their thoughts and establish good planning habits. Students will collaborate with peers and participate in conferences with instructors. They will use feedback from peers, teachers, and themselves to improve their work. Students will have access to technology such as the use of computers with Word Perfect, Inspiration, and Dragon Dictation to help develop their pieces of writing. Y.A.L.E. students will keep writer’s notebooks as a portfolio of writing samples and writing collections to encourage them to take risks in their writing and develop their craft.

History and Social Studies

Y.A.L.E. students will relive history and become part of their communities though hands-on, inquiry based projects in Social Studies. Students will study artifacts and primary sources from various points in history to draw conclusions about the past and relate those events to the world today. By studying historical documents, former cultures, and events of the past, students can learn to be participatory citizens in our country’s democracy. Students will read a plethora of non-fiction texts to inform their opinions and perspective, as well as improve their literacy skills. Students will argue and debate past and present issues that have influenced our society. They will re-enact the judicial system by creating a law governing student body that presents ideas to the school to propose solutions to student-observed problems. Y.A.L.E. students will take advantage of local museums, historical sites, and government buildings by visiting and taking part in special events that occur there.


In Mathematics, Y.A.L.E. students will participate in project-based activities that are presented in a meaningful way using the enVisionMath© curriculum. Students will work together and utilize their math skills to work towards the project goal. For example, students will learn measurement by constructing buildings taking on the role of an architect. Students will learn by problem-solving, participating in hands-on projects, and engaging in inquiry-based learning.


Through hands-on, rigorous exploration of science, Y.A.L.E. students will make scientific discoveries and revelations. They will use microscopes to look beyond what their eyes can see. They will classify rocks and learn about how different variations of rocks are formed. They will search for fossils and discover the wildlife that once lived in their own backyards. The students will scribe in their notebooks their observations; their hypotheses; their discoveries.

Social Skills

Students at Y.A.L.E. School Philadelphia receive direct and incidental social skills instruction based on the award-winning Social Thinking® framework developed by Michelle Garcia Winner. Social Thinking® helps strengthen social thinking skills, promotes social interactions, and addresses weaknesses in social communication for people of all ages and backgrounds regardless of diagnosis. This framework helps people process social information and teaches them to adapt to and navigate social situations to achieve more rewarding outcomes.