The program of study at Sylmar Biotech Health Academy has been shaped by a variety of factors including student interest, workforce needs, teacher expertise and postsecondary opportunities. We currently offer 3 different pathways: Biomedicine, Sports Medicine, and Engineering.

    The curriculum for our biomedical and engineering pathways is Project Lead the Way (PLTW). Our science and engineering teachers continue to participate in intensive two-week trainings, which prepare them to teach the courses. PLTW courses are hands-on, project based courses that seek to provide our students with the skills and tools needed for a biomedical career. At the annual conference and summer trainings our teachers attend every year, one of the most inspirational pieces consistently is the connection between the courses offered and the professions that will be in the greatest need for skilled workers in the next 10-20 years. We want our students to be prepared for careers that will be available to them, and the biomedical an engineering fields both predict a shortage of workers as the need increases from the retirement of the aging of the baby boomer generation and level of advancement being rapidly made in both fields.


    Integrated Core

    PLTW courses are aligned with Common Core State Standards in math and English Language Arts, Next Generation Science Standards, and other national and state standards. Programs are flexible and customizable so that schools can meet their local curricular and community needs. Courses are designed to complement math and science courses offered by a school.

    The first course, Principles of Biomedical Sciences, begins with a dead woman on a warm summer day. Students learn about and perform various analysis of evidence from the crime scene as well as the deceased medical history to piece together what happened. The next course in this sequence is Human Body Systems, which explores physiology and anatomy. Students use many of the skills they learned in the previous course, such as gel electrophoresis, to complete this course. The focus of this course is about how body systems work together to maintain the health of an individual. The third course, Medical Interventions, focuses on a family with a variety of disorders. Again, students use skills learned from the previous courses to learn about bacterial infections, genetic disorders and hormone deficiencies. All these courses fulfill the D requirement for lab science.

    The Sports Medicine pathway is designed for students who are interested in fields such as athletic training, physical therapy, medicine, nursing, fitness, exercise physiology, kinesiology, nutrition, EMT, and other sports medicine related fields. It is offered as a classroom and lab course to provide students with an avenue through which to explore these fields of study. This course focuses on the basic information and skills important in the recognition of, care, prevention, and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. The Sports Medicine courses fit well within our overall theme of patient care and are complimentary to the biomedical pathway, as it provides students with a variety of pathway options without ever having to sacrifice the internship experience or the professional certification from Mission College.

    Our Engineering course, which is a new industry pathway for us, came into existence due to the need for engineers in our country as evidence from industry forecast data, as well as from the feedback of parents in the community and from faculty at our feeder middle school, Olive Vista. We felt compelled to add the engineering pathway to provide our students with exposure to a growing field. Engineers make significantly more money than other entry positions, and we want our students to be competing for those higher paying jobs.

    Post-Secondary Exposure

    We currently have a partnership with our local community college, Mission College. This gives our student body – comprised mostly of underrepresented youth – the opportunity to become college and career-ready and to contribute to the greater community’s need for highly skilled professionals in the health and medical fields, an industry that is forecasted to grow exponentially over the next decade. Mission College has collaborated diligently with us to offer two professional certificate programs for our students, 36 of which graduated with the Health Occupations Credential certificate in the Summer of 2016 where they explored various health professions including the Biomedical field. The students received dual enrollment credit and invaluable post-secondary and industry experience. Mission College recruitment assisted with the matriculation application through enrollment. Mission College was committed making sure our students felt welcome on campus and were dedicated to reducing student anxiety by hosting an Orientation for the students on the Mission campus. Our goal is for every student to have earned 1 – 2 professional certificates and at least on internship upon graduation from SBHA.

    Cohort Scheduling & Project-Based Learning

    Our current master schedule was created in an effort to cohort students and allow for common planning periods for content area teachers. The student cohorts move from class to class together, a useful design method for the master schedule when implementing multidisciplinary projects. Project-based learning (PBL) is required for each pathway team. Teams are organized according to grade level, and have representatives from each major subject. Cohorting has allowed these multi-disciplinary projects to be truly transformational as students work on a component in each of their core classes, culminating into one product. Common planning time has also been beneficial as it allows teacher with time to plan out these projects, which require an immense amount of preparation. When teams meet, they record their minutes on a common planning form in an effort to capture the planning process.

    SBHA uses the Buck Institute’s approach to Project-Based Learning (PBL) and members of the Buck Institute’s National Faculty has trained all SBHA teachers in PBL implementation. PBL is the glue that ties our industry themes to our classroom practice. PBL units are easily designed to be rigorous, relevant, and real-world based as the PLTW curriculum is presented in project form already. The PLTW curriculum can be tailored to the needs of our students and adapted to PBL in a variety of ways including providing accommodations for students who have IEP’s to adding more scaffolds to students who may need extra time with a new concept or skill.

    Pathway Community of Practice

    The goal of our pathway community of practice is for students to progress towards measurable and achievable learning outcomes. Their four years at Sylmar Biotech should prepare them for college and career. Through the work of our faculty and partners, we have best practices in place to help us achieve our goal of providing our students with the tools and opportunities necessary to reach our student learning outcomes.

    Each year SBHA teachers self-assess using Linked Learning’s Community of Practice Continuum. The self-assessment identifies the degree to which the faculty has implemented the best practices on the continuum with fidelity. Based on this evidence, we move forward to establish areas of strength and areas of growth. This annual process holds us accountable to the Linked Learning teaching and learning framework and affords us the time to participate in the cycle of improvement and reflection necessary for sustainability.

    Professional Development

    In order to do the work that we envision, we need time for teacher collaboration. We have developed a master schedule where departments share a common conference period so that teams can collaborate on projects and curriculum. In addition to meeting during common conference periods, our professional development cycle (PD) every Tuesday from 2-3pm provides time for teachers to develop and refine project-based learning (PBLs) units, plan advisory curriculum, and to analyze student data/work.

    One of the goals of our school is to have student’s complete meaningful projects. In order to do this, we created pathway teams by grade level. The multi-disciplinary team’s focus is to develop and implement project-based learning (PBL). Each grade level’s goal is to complete a minimum of two projects per year, one per semester. Once the project is complete, we exhibit our student work in front of an industry panel, whose purpose is two-fold: students receive real-world feedback on their work from industry professionals and the school continues to build and develop our industry relationships.

    In order to capture the work completed at the content or grade level meetings, teacher teams fill out a common form. The common planning form is a useful tool that reminds us of our working agreements and Linked Learning’s teaching and learning framework. There is also a division of responsibility, which helps keep everyone accountable. We understand that having a record of what is discussed is useful for revision as well as transparency.

    In addition to having time to plan out lessons and projects, it is also important that teachers have the opportunity to learn from each other. There is value in teachers observing each other’s classrooms in order to share best practices and receive critical feedback. We developed a schedule for Instructional Rounds, where small groups of teachers go into classrooms and focus on specific shifts the staff deemed important. The group collectively formulates a problem of practice and develops a question to help guide the collection of data in classrooms. Currently, our foci include academic rigor, student collaboration, metacognitive strategies and learning objectives. The goal of instructional rounds is to sustain a community of practice in which we regularly receive and give feedback to one another so that we continue to provide our students with the skills necessary to be college and career ready.

    SBHA calendars a five-day Summer Institute every year. We schedule two days in June and three days in August. The June goals include reflecting on the year and assessing our progress toward a sustainable Linked Learning model while the August goals include goal setting for upcoming year and acclimating new teachers to our instructional program, refining our PBL practices and inquiry-based model of instruction, and cultivating a collaborative culture through team building activities.