At Our Community School we aim to teach students to be highly skilled in all areas of the Common Core Standards and to be effective problem solvers, critical thinkers, and caring, responsible citizens. We have researched and selected curriculum programs that support these goals, developing them into our own innovative school-wide curriculum. Below is a brief description of our curriculum.
The school day is divided into three equal portions between language arts, mathematics and integrated humanities studies. These studies incorporate student inquiry and project-based learning to help them make meaningful connections and improve critical thinking skills.
Language Arts Program (K-5th): We strongly believe that a Common Core standard-based, balanced literacy approach best serves the needs of the emerging reader and writer and that is why our teachers selected to implement Pearson’s Good Habits, Great Readers (GHGR) language arts curriculum. The GHGR program is a comprehensive reading and writing curriculum for Kindergarten through 5th grade. The foundation of GHGR focuses on 7 habits of a great reader. Great readers see themselves as readers, make sense of text, use what they know, understand how stories work, use text to learn, organize information, and think critically about books. These skills are easily transferred to use in classroom book clubs. Students reading is evaluated regularly using Developmental Reading Assessment 2. Teachers use Writer’s Workshop model to instruct in writing, as well as Words Their Way for vocabulary and spelling development and Zaner Bloser Handwriting.
Upper Grade Language Arts Program (6th-8th): Teachers use a humanities core block, which integrates reading, writing, speaking, and listening with the study of history. Students reading is assessed using John Reading Inventory.
Mathematics Program: Our Community School adopted Singapore Math as its math curriculum in 2008-09.
We use the following curriculum as a foundation to learning Singapore Common Standards edition and Ready Common Core. Our math program is based on three components:
1. Concrete hands-on learning using manipulatives
2. pictorial representations
3. abstract (algorithms)
Students learn math from the ground up and never learn a formula without understanding its contextual meaning. Our math program allows children to be problem solvers and to use higher-level thinking skills in mathematics. Our upper grade math program uses this same structure to teacher math 7 & 8 and pre-algebra. Prentice Hall is used as a foundation for learning as well as Ready Common Core and teacher created units of study.
Interdisciplinary Humanities Studies: Each teacher uses the National Standards in Social Studies, Science and Language Arts to identify and create three to five studies of integrated concepts each year, clustering standards in logical groupings. Our upper grade teachers use History Alive as a foundation for instruction.
Science: Consistent with our school-wide philosophy of experiential, child-centered learning, students will be using the scientific process to engage in solving real life scientific problems. In keeping with the California Content and Next Generation Standards. Teachers will incorporate the three main areas of science: Earth Science, Life Science, and Physical Science. Teachers use components of FOSS learning modules and Education and the Environment Initiative units of study.
Democracy in Action: An integral part of our school Interdisciplinary Humanities Studies is the incorporation of democratic practices throughout the school, evidenced by:
- Democratic Classrooms: Students and teachers collaborate to create codes of conduct, develop and vote on rules to address ongoing classroom issues, and provide peer support using Responsive Classrooms and Developmental Designs program components.
- Service Learning: A school-wide program where each class develops and operates an ongoing service for the community (i.e.: lost and found, or recycling).
- Student Senate: Weekly student senate meetings led by our 6th graders with support by our Principal. Two representatives from each class identify issues, brainstorm and implement solutions as well as plan school spirit days and offer ideas for budgeting for school wide student needs.
- Conflict Resolution and Peaceful Learning Communities (PLCs): With adult support, students learn and take ownership of addressing concerns and conflicts openly and respectfully. Weekly classroom PLCs offer students as a group to resolve issues and give feedback to each other about their successes.
- Cooperation, Collaboration, and Communication: Extensive work where small groups of students must analyze assignments or problems together, communicate individual ideas, compromise for the good of their objectives, and create quality work.
- Buddy Classes & Assemblies: Younger and older buddy classes visit one another to develop relationships and to share work and support curriculum (culminating presentations at the close of a study). Student-led school assemblies allow our students to practice presenting skills and share their work. Whole school assemblies allow an opportunity for our community to come together to celebrate school events.