Our K-8 Charter School Model
SPIRIT OF A FREE SOCIETY AND THE NEXT GENERATION
Our ultimate goal is to educate the next generation of American Citizens. American Citizens whom contribute to our society through a commitment to citizenship and outstanding moral character. Self-discipline, honest hard work, leadership, citizenship, compassion, courage, and responsibility are the cornerstones of character development. We follow the three R’s: respect for self, respect for others, and responsibility for all actions. We want our students to treasure the self-evident truths expressed in the Declaration of Independence: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and “that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Our team also wants students to understand and value the balance of rights and powers established in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the other constitutional amendments: our form of republican self-government in which individuals, states, and the federal government all play a part. We want our students to value their freedom and to respect the limits of political power, for as the Bill of Rights states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Our students, by end of fifth grade, using Core Knowledge will be able to pass the United States Citizenship test. Throughout their lives, thanks to our nation’s founding documents, graduates will use their liberty to pursue happiness in their communities and in their families, in their work and in their leisure, in economic life and in political life. As they do so, we hope they will be ever mindful of how privileged they are to be Americans, and that they will strive to pass on this heritage to generations yet unborn.
Our teachers care about the academic growth of the students who will become our future citizens. Using data-driven instruction, they develop skill-focused lessons infused with content from the Core Knowledge Sequence.
Educators on our team will have access to a broad range of professional development. Educators who share a vision of cultivating young citizens and motivating capable learners have the opportunity to share best practices across a thriving, collaborative network.
Our educators use a variety of research-based instructional strategies to meet the needs of our students. Cooperative learning, investigative learning, and the Socratic method are only a few of the instructional approaches that a teacher may use to meet the needs of a particular student or class.
Technology is integrated into our classrooms in a logical and thoughtful way. As students progress through our schools, they will be able to produce and discuss arguments and evaluate ideas presented to them by pouring over countless assets and experts available to them online. Technology is a tool, not a replacement of, our high-quality teachers.
Recognizing the role the family plays in a child’s academic and social development, we engage parents in the learning process. The success of each student takes the active participation, communication, and commitment of teachers, students, and parents working together. The success of a school is no different—it takes teamwork.
Our ultimate goal is to graduate thoughtful, articulate youth who are prepared to become productive, accountable, engaged citizens. We do so by ensuring that the Core Knowledge Sequence—a research-based, coherent, cumulative, content-specific K–8 curricular sequence in the language arts, history and geography, mathematics, science, art, and music—is implemented with fidelity. Core Knowledge content is infused into the teaching of skills such as reading and writing.
Our school employs the following model:
Core Virtues is a character education program that believe is essential in developing scholars into the next generation of American Citizens. The Core Virtues program, when taught on a daily basis, leads children to become an even better version of themselves by cultivating good habits. Children move from apathy to caring through the telling of stories, which awakens the love of the good. Through stories that intentionally intersect with Core Knowledge’s stories and authors, teachers will highlight virtues so that they cultivate the love of the good and a clear vision of who students can become. This non-sectarian approach will not only cultivate the desire to act rightly and to help children discern and complete virtuous acts, but it will also provide a vision of virtue that will inspire a love of the virtuous and provide a model that the children can emulate. The Core Virtues program offers teachers a clear strategy for implementation and a sequence for teaching consensus virtues on a three-year cycle, for children are developmentally different in grade one than they are in grade four. Reading the same stories about diligence and courage in the different grades promotes the understanding, embedding, and modeling of these virtues over the course of a scholar’s time within our school.
The Core Knowledge Sequence is a “coherent, cumulative, and content-specific core curriculum” developed by the Core Knowledge Foundation. In alignment with our mission, the innovative, rigorous academic nature of the Core Knowledge Sequence will result in improved student learning and achievement results. In studies and in practice in all types of schools in North Carolina and many other states, the Sequence has consistently produced scholars who score better on tests, are better prepared to address a broad range of topics and who are excited about learning more. It has also been shown to create an environment of collaboration and collegiality among teachers.
The Core Knowledge Sequence has been shown to be effective for all scholars and to level the playing field for scholars of all backgrounds, including low-wealth, at-risk scholars. It has been shown that at-risk and lower academic achieving scholars generally have lower standards and expectations set for them. The Core Knowledge Sequence in conjunction with its higher standards, will create scholars who are able to achieve more and who are better prepared to compete and succeed in a global society.
CKLA is fully, and explicitly, aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and does not require any additional or supplemental programs to support children’s language arts development. It is designed to develop readers and writers who are able to manage the high, complex standards of the current educational context. While CKLA is a coherent program, there are important differences in the grades K–3 and grades 4–5 materials, as well, as approaches. The focus in K–3 is twofold: to develop fluent reading and writing skills and to enhance language comprehension by building knowledge and vocabulary. This is accomplished through two strands: the Skills strand and the Listening & Learning strand; each takes approximately 60 minutes per day. The Skills strand focuses on decoding, encoding, grammar, handwriting, and the writing process; it contains decodable stories on a variety of topics. The Listening & Learning strand mainly focuses on building background knowledge and vocabulary; teachers read aloud stories that are too advanced for students to read on their own, enabling children to enjoy complex texts on a variety of topics from literature, science, social studies, and the arts.
In grades 4–5, students are still focused on building reading and writing skills as well as knowledge and vocabulary. Throughout the year, students study 8 to 9 content-focused units (including The Middle Ages, Geology, Treasure Island, and Native Americans). Taking 90 minutes per day, the various lessons in each unit include read-alouds; whole-group,
small-group, and partner reading; close reading; literal, inferential, and evaluative comprehension questions; vocabulary; grammar; writing; morphology and spelling (10–15 words per week); and unit assessments.
All of the materials for grades K–5 were developed with substantial input from teachers and then were refined based on feedback from teachers and students who used early trial versions of the program. Core Knowledge encourages thought provoking, higher-order application of prior knowledge to new circumstances. It is a sequential, spiral curriculum that builds on previous learning as it expands and deepens students’ knowledge base. This program is an effective way to prepare all students for a complex and changing 21st Century society.
Singapore Mathematics was founded in 1998 with the belief that all scholars should have and need access to a high quality math curriculum. Singapore provides intense, hands-on, detailed curriculum from Kindergarten through the 8th grade. It is unique in its simplicity in that one of its main tenets has to do with scholars gaining a deep and true understanding of the basic elements of math (number sense, place value, etc.) so that attainment of algorithmic understanding is considered a logical endpoint for the scholars. They then have the ability to take this
deep understanding of the basics and an understanding for the abstract concept of algorithms and apply it to real world uses.
Singapore takes scholars, over time, through what is essentially the CPA model. CPA stands for concrete, pictorial, and abstract and is series of systematic steps that takes scholars from the tangible to the algorithmic over time. Singapore begins by engaging scholars in dynamic hands-on activities (the Concrete phase) that allows them to “feel”
and gain a sense of numbers, values, etc. It then instructs them how to create pictures to represent (the Pictorial phase) what they were manipulating in the Concrete phase.
This then culminates in the scholars converting this number sense and these pictorial representations into numbers and symbols (the Abstract phase) that allow them to complete common algorithms. This logical progression of learning and understanding allows the scholars of any community, socio-economic group, to be able to have a true sense of numbers, values, representations, and algorithms that can be readily applied to the real word.
SCIENCE AND HIGHER ORDER THINKING
A high-quality science education means that students will develop an in-depth understanding of content and develop key skills— communication, collaboration, inquiry, problem solving, and flexibility—that will serve
them throughout their educational and professional lives. Our students believe they can meet increased expectations. Rigor in classes help focus on the application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills. Educators encourage extended responses and push students to not only know information, but apply their understanding in new and unique ways. They demonstrate their understanding through reflection and analysis of thinking and learning. These skills are help students to be evaluative, creative and innovative.