Curriculum and Instruction:
PFSJCS recognizes that there is no one-curriculum system that meets the requirements of all subjects and/or all students. It is important to have a variety of excellent resources to meet the needs of specific subjects and individual students. We believe that whenever possible, teachers and students should help to develop their own materials and lesson plans, so that they are personally and meaningfully connected to classroom learning.
In 1995, with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks still being developed, PVPA founders researched to find exceptional curriculum standards for all academics subjects, as well as structure for our performing arts programs. We felt it was essential to have standards that identified clear goals and expectations and, at the same time, allowed flexibility for a teacher’s creative input and for differentiated instruction. We were pleased to find exactly what we were looking for with McREL (Mid-continental Regional Educational Laboratory). We found that McREL’s standards exceeded Massachusetts Frameworks, and provided clear, consistent, and meaningful structure for most subjects. We used McREL in coordination with Massachusetts Frameworks to formulate a Scope and Sequence that would provide specific standards and benchmarks for each subject and grade. PFSJCS will update this Scope and Sequence to be in alignment with the Common Core Standards. McRELS also will provide our school with excellent administrator/teacher resources through their publications and training programs.
Prior to the start of each semester, all teachers will distribute course descriptions, materials, reading lists, timelines, as well as standards and benchmarks for each class. This will provide students and parents/guardians with a clear understanding of what will be covered and what students are expected to master.
Each day in class, teachers will post and verbally review the standards and benchmarks that the class is currently working on, the class agendas, and assignments. Students will be able to clearly articulate the specific skills they are in the process of mastering. Teachers will also distribute in advance well-defined rubrics and study guides for all graded assignments to assure that all students know what specifically is expected for minimum completion and higher levels of work. Students and parents receive regular checklists, updating standards and benchmarks that have been completed and work that is still in progress.
There is no social promotion at PFSJCS, only skills-based completion of work. Students are promoted to the next grade when they have completed all the required standards for their current grade. Along the way, there is no failure at PFSJCS; students are constantly in process of completing work, and will receive course credit when all class standards and benchmarks are mastered at a minimum 70% level. Students will receive continuous encouragement and support, not only to meet, but also to exceed the minimum 70% passing grade through additional studies, skill building, and assessments. A standards-based assessment system builds the important skill of persistence, pride in accomplishment, and mastery of solid skills.
9th Grade 10th Grade
ELA I ELA II
MATHEMATICS I MATHEMATICS II
AMERICAN HISTORY I AMERICAN HISTORY II
WORLD LANGUAGE I WORLD LANGUAGE II
11th Grade 12th Grade
HUMANITIES- Integration ELA/S.S. HUMANITIES- Integration ELA/S.S.
MATHEMATICS III MATHEMATICS IV
CHEMISTRY OPTIONAL LAB SCIENCE
WORLD LANGUAGE III OPTIONAL WORLD LANUGAGE IV
1. English Language Arts (4 years)- It is of vital importance that each PFSJCS graduate is highly competent in literacy skills, including: writing, reading comprehension, discussion, debate, and public speaking. Students will be able to formulate and communicate ideas and values through expository, persuasive, narrative, and expressive formats. Reading materials will cover a variety of cultures, genres, and periods, to help students identify personal interests and compare stylistic differences. Students will have daily reading and writing sessions to help develop their skills and increase their experience of a variety of written forms. Molly Welch, PVPA’s Department Head of ELA, will provide us with syllabi, lesson plans, materials, rubrics, and assessments tools for grades 9-12, and will help mentor our ELA teachers. Molly has had over fifteen years of experience providing outstanding education. This year, Molly’s high school students continued their achievements by placing first in statewide ELA MCAS scores. Using these materials, the Principal will work with ELA teachers to craft curriculum maps.
Social Justice Literacy: Students will engage in critical literacy and will actively examine the levels of power and injustice that exists in written formats. They will understand the codes and descriptions that undermine minority groups and marginalize members of society, and will read in a reflective manner, in order to deconstruct the intent and meaning of texts. They will read to understand the power relationship in language and the social inequities that exist. They will look at writing from a variety of perspectives and identify the voices of different classes and cultures. Readings will include works that reflect the values, interests and ideals of the surrounding community, and will contrast with portrayals of race, gender, and socio-economic stereotypes. (Freire, 1970) (Blackledge, 2000). Students will use their own experiences and observations in writing and will be empowered to develop their own voice, in order to affect change.
9th Grade-ELA I- Reading Comprehension and Writing Skills I-Students will learn the important fundamentals of reading comprehension and writing skills, and will develop an appreciation for a variety of written genres, including novels, short stories, plays, expository writing, and poetry. Students will identify important literary themes and begin to deconstruct the author’s intent. Students will keep vocabulary lists, daily journals and take part in class discussions, debates and presentations. Students needing additional support in demonstrating competencies will be required to attend skill building extended day and year programs. 9th grade reading choices will include: The Acorn People, Jones; Animal Farm, Orwell; Antigone, Sophocles; As You Like It, Shakespeare; The Color Purple, Walker; Flowers for Algernon, Keyes; Gulliver’s Travels and Other Writings, Swift; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou; Into Thin Air, Krakauer; The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury; Selected Poems, Neruda
10th Grade-ELA II-Reading Comprehension and Writing Skills II- Students will achieve higher levels of competency in their writing, reading comprehension and oral skills and deepen their understanding of literature. They will be able to analyze and critique a variety of written forms, and successfully frame and express their thoughts and ideas. Continued extended day and year support will be offered for students who are unable to demonstrate the required levels of skill development. 10th grade reading choices will include: Another Country, Baldwin; The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Wilder; The Dream Keeper, Hughes; The Kite Runner, Hosseini; Love in the Time of Cholera, Marquez, Medea, Euripides; The Metamorphosis, Kafka; Native Speaker, Lee; Night, Wiesel; One Flew Over the Cuckoos’ Nest, Kesey; Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare
11th and 12th Grade ELA Humanities Classes- Once students successfully complete the required ELA courses, they will have an opportunity to choose from a variety of integrated humanities classes. The offerings will change from semester to semester, but certain standard courses will be available every two years, so that all students have the opportunity to take them. Classes may include: Playwriting, Modern American Literature, Shakespeare, World Poetry, Literature from Spanish Speaking Countries. All humanities classes will include: textual analysis, research papers, and reflective essays. All students will be required to take one semester of Public Speaking during their junior or senior year. Students will become facile at developing ways to reach audiences, and use their voices and ideals to build awareness and initiate change.
“My role as a “progressive” teacher is not only that of teaching mathematics or biology but also of helping the students to recognize themselves as the architects of their own cognition process.” -Paulo Freire
2. Mathematics (4 years) – All students will be expected to be proficient in critical thinking, deductive reasoning, and problem solving. Students will learn to: make sense of problems and persevere in solving them; reason abstractly and quantitatively; construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others; model with mathematics; use appropriate tools and formulas strategically; attend to precision; look for and make use of structure; and look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. Students will learn through real-world applications of abstract concepts. The study and successful completion of a four year required program of mathematics will provide students with the skills to move into any higher field of study, and negotiate any future challenge with sound reasoning and skillful management.
Because our students and families need to have clear and understandable materials, we will use Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Saxon Math texts. The Saxon Math series addresses all the 9th through 12th grade math standards and benchmarks, Mass Frameworks and Common Core Standards, and presents the information in familiar, easy to understand and follow formats, that can serve as clear instruction for all students and families. We will add problem solving activities and labs to each unit, which the series does not regularly include.
Social Justice Mathematics: Math is an instrument for detailing social justice issues and developing critical consciousness. Math can be used as a tool to examine and compare the inequities that exist by examining: population rates, corporate salaries, economic concerns, infant mortality rates, defense budgets, and demonstrate, in graphic terms, the way people are oppressed and marginalized. Math becomes an analytic tool to bring awareness to important world issues. Students will learn how to use critical math to dispel myths and misinformation. Critical math will be a powerful tool to measure, predict and provide evidence. Students will use critical math skills to study important current economic, political, and social issues, which may include: United States bank fraud; comparison of income rates in First, Second, and Third World countries; the current recession’s impact on different income groups; how political races are financed. Math will have real world applications that will connect to a wide range of subjects including: science, history, political science, sociology, and language arts.
9th Grade-Mathematics I-Based on a student’s prior experience and demonstrated skills, 9th Grade math will be, for most students, Algebra I and/or Geometry. Any student with the ability to demonstrate full competencies in both Algebra I and Geometry will be moved into higher levels of learning. At a minimum, students will complete Algebra I studies in 9th grade, covering: Algebraic Foundations; Functions and Relationships; Equations; Linear Equations and Functions; Polynomials; Rational Expressions and Functions; Inequalities; Systems of Equations and Inequalities; Radical Expressions and Functions; Quadratic Equations and Functions; Exponential Models; Absolute Value Equations and Inequalities; and Probability, Statistics and Data Analysis.
10th Grade-Mathematics II-Based on a student’s prior experience and demonstrated skills, 10th Grade math will be, for most students, Geometry and/or Algebra II. Any student with the ability to demonstrate full competencies in both Geometry and Algebra II will be moved into higher levels of learning. At a minimum, students will complete Geometry in 10th grade, covering: Geometric Foundations; Logic and Reasoning; Construction; Coordinate Geometry; Triangles-Congruence and Similarity; Polygons; Quadrilaterals; Geometric Properties with Equations; Measurement and Dimension; Right Triangles and Trigonometry; Circles; Solids; Transformations, and Modeling with Geometry.
11th Grade-Mathematics III Based on a student’s prior experience and demonstrated skills, 11th Grade math will be, for most students, Algebra II and/or higher levels of study. At a minimum, students will complete Algebra II in 11th grade, covering: review of Algebraic Foundations; Linear Functions; Matrices; Sequences, Series, and Logic; Polynomials and Polynomial Functions; Rational and Radical Functions; Linear Systems; Probability and Statistics; Quadratic Functions; and Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
12th Grade- Higher Level Mathematics Studies- Based on a student’s prior experience and demonstrated skills, 12th grade students will be challenged to reach their highest levels of mathematics achievement. 12th grade advanced studies include: Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Advanced Statistics, Discrete Mathematics, or other courses that would serve their future studies.
3. Science (3 years with a 4th year option) Students will experience the importance of scientific studies for the development of critical thinking skills, habits of mind, and methodical analysis and diagnosis. Students will be provided with authentic learning experiences that will widen their understanding of themselves and the world around them. They will learn to value important discoveries and formulate their own goals for productive and ethical scientific practices and activities. Students will be required to take part in a global initiative that will put into practice their scientific skills and abilities.
Social Justice Science: Science is a rich field for examining social justice issues. There are many documented scientific studies that have isolated a limited sub-group of our population. For example, examining the belief systems, misinformation, and racism involved in the study of: Eugenics, Phrenology, and Genetics, will expose students to the potential use and abuse of data. Students will also examine current scientific experimentation, and consider the potential misuse of data in relationship to: cloning, stem cell research, and other recent trends. Students will be involved in determining ways for a more equitable use of science, and examining organizations and research that supports social justice practices.
9th Grade- Biology- Students will study human biology, genetics, cell structure, bio-diversity, evolution and ecology. Students will take part in regular laboratory sessions and will use the scientific method to understand concepts and present their findings. We will use the Prentice Hall Biology Textbook that provides complete, clear information and excellent illustrations and diagrams.
10th Grade- Physics-Students will take a Conceptual Physics Lab Science Course in the 10th grade program. Physics will cover the investigations of motion and sound, including: velocity, acceleration, momentum, inertia, force, vectors, energy, wave theory, electricity, magnetism and sound. The Textbook Conceptual Physics by Paul Hewitt provides excellent information and relates concepts to everyday experiences.
11th Grade-Chemistry-Students will take Chemistry for the completion of their three-year mandatory science program. Chemistry will include: atomic structure, periodic table, chemical bonding, balancing equations, chemical reactions, thermodynamics, and moles. Modern Chemistry from Holt Rinehart, and Winston Publishers is clearly detailed and provides excellent worksheets for practice.
12th Grade- Elective Science Program- Students have a choice for their senior year science program, including yearlong courses in: Ecology, Astronomy, Anatomy and Physiology, as well as advanced levels of Biology, Physics, and Chemistry.
4. Social Studies-This program of study provides an opportunity for students to examine the course of history, compare different civilizations, and understand that history is not a linear progression from primitive to advanced. Students will learn to discern and utilize information, research using both primary and secondary sources, and make connections and identify trends. Students will study the rule of law and our judicial system, and work to uphold human dignity, freedom, equal rights, as well as personal and civic responsibility. All students will be required to complete at least two years of American History and two years of integrated humanities studies. We have never identified one outstanding text for social studies; instead, we have gathered a variety of primary and secondary source materials. Gary Huggett, PVPA’s Social Studies Department Head and award-winning teacher, will share with us his extensive collection of reading materials, artifacts, activities, lesson plans, rubrics and assessment tools. He will also provide training and mentoring for our new social studies teachers. Using these materials, the Principal will work with Social Studies teachers to craft curriculum maps.
“All history is the history of the struggle for production, then class struggle. Relationships can never be understood except in the light of class analysis” Paulo Freire
Social Justice Social Studies: Students will develop a critical understanding of the world they live in, examination of structures of power and privilege, and learn to perceive social, political, and economic contradictions. Beginning with their own experiences and insights, students will examine current societal issues, such as: hunger, homelessness, racism, prejudice, and violence, and identify how their understandings relate to other cultures, governments, and periods of time. Students will learn to read responsibly, analyze sources, and determine intention. Students will examine the full scope of power and oppression, will learn democratic principles of equality, justice, and freedom, and will be active participants in creating those opportunities in class, our school, the surrounding community, and in the world.
9th Grade American History I- Students will study the origins of the United States during the Revolutionary and Constitutional eras and will continue with the study of the development of the United States through the Civil War and into Reconstruction.
10th Grade-American History II-Students will continue their study from Reconstruction to the present day. Areas of focus will be: the Industrial Revolution, the Progressive Movement and the New Deal, World War II, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and current issues.
11th and 12th Grade Humanities-After completing two years of American Studies, students will select four semesters of humanities courses that integrate ELA and Social Studies Standards. The selections will vary with each semester, and may include: History and The Media, Latin American Studies, African American Studies, History of the Oppressed, The Rise and Fall of European Powers, Power and Class in the 21st Century, International Affairs, and Economics.
5. World Language (3 years with a 4th year option) – Students are required to complete three years of one world language and are encouraged to take a fourth year optional course. Students will develop reading, speaking and listening skills as well as an understanding of the culture. Students will have a choice of the following languages: Spanish, Mandarin, and American Sign Language. We will also offer a Native Spanish Speakers program for students who have fluency in speaking Spanish and would like to improve their reading and writing skills. We selected these three languages because they offer a variety of learning options and support diverse student abilities, including linguistic, tonal, and kinesthetic skills. They also represent three unique cultural experiences and will build an understanding of diversity in communication. For Spanish we will use the textbook series En Espanol by Houghton Mifflin with Fluenz recorded materials for labs; for Mandarin, Living Language Starting Out in Chinese; and Talking with your Hands, Listening with your Eyes by Gabriel Grayson for American Sign Language classes.
“Because we are “programmed to learn,” we live, or experience, or we find ourselves open to experience the relationship between what we inherit and what we acquire. We become genetic-cultural beings. We are not only nature, nor are we only culture, education, and thinking”. Paulo Freire
Social Justice World Language- The 21st century provides access to a global community and creates a vital need to help students learn to build relationships and develop communication skills. There is no greater way to connect with people and have sensitivity and insight into their culture, than to speak with someone in his/her own language. Language acquisition is much more than learning words; it is building an understanding of the history, culture, customs, needs, fears, and desires of the people. PFSJCS will provide a world language program that will support students in appreciating diversity, understanding different perspectives, having first-hand experiences of other cultures, and listening and understanding the heart and intention of language.
9th Grade: World Language I- Students will select and begin the study of one language for at least a three-year period. World Language I will provide a solid foundation for continuing studies, as it familiarizes the students with both communication skills and cultural understandings. Students will learn basic ways to provide and receive information, express their feelings and emotions, and exchange thoughts and ideas. Students will begin to understand the cultural background and norms, historical, and geographical representation of the language.
10th Grade: World Language II- Students will continue their studies and gain more confidence in communication and expression. They will be able to understand patterns in communication and be able to construct sentences and have the ability to better represent their thoughts, feelings and ideas. Cultural studies continue with more in-depth examination and understanding of issues of daily life and expressions through the arts.
11th Grade: World Language III- Students develop proficiency with their chosen language and have more fluency in communication and expression. Students are given opportunities for using their skills both inside and outside of the classroom, and have more first-hand knowledge of the culture through research projects, classroom visitors, and field trips.
12th Grade: World Language IV- Students are encouraged to take a fourth year of world language study, to increase their level of fluency and establish confidence in communication and expression. Students will have more opportunities for interpersonal activities and events that will allow them to utilize their skills, and engage with the culture.
6. Electives (4 years) – Students are able to take four electives each year. They will be required to select (1) Physical Education Elective, (1) Technology Elective (1) Arts Elective and (1) Community Development Elective each year.
Physical Education Electives- all students will take part in physical activities for at least one semester each year. Students will have a variety of choices that may include: Competitive Sports, Tai Kwon Do, Tai Chi, Yoga, Funk/Hip-Hop, Mime, Fencing, Track, African Drumming/Dance, and Capoeira.
Technology Electives- All students will have at least one semester each year of technology classes, and they will be expected to be fluent in the use of technology. Students will learn word processing, PowerPoint presentations, web-design, computer graphics, flash animation, data visualization, and on-line resources.
Arts Electives- All students will have at least one semester each year of an arts class. All art classes will focus on developing skills that would be helpful in building vision, communication and leadership skills. Electives will vary by semester and will include the following selection of classes: Photography, Filmmaking, Radio Station, Television Studio, Graphic Skills, Boal- Theater of the Oppressed, Arts for Social Change, Arts as Expression, Community Murals, Sculpture with a Statement, and Speaker’s Corner.
Community Development Elective-Students will have one elective each year to work on positive initiatives for the school and surrounding community. Electives will change each semester and may include: Peer Mediation, Leadership Skills, Resource Development, Neighborhood Support, Mentoring, and Creating Equality.
7. Internships- Prior to graduation, every student will be required to participate in at least one internship program. Internships are scheduled for junior and senior years, and may happen during the weekends, evenings, or summers. Students will select an internship aligned with their future goals. Internships must be at least 50hrs in length and will need to be approved in advance. Internship sites might be: state office, not-for profit program, law firm, television studio, social justice organization, environmental program, literacy program, or healthcare program.
8-Social Curriculum- PFSJCS will teach a social curriculum that outlines: rights and responsibilities, appreciation of diversity, self-awareness and self-management, interpersonal skills, decision-making, and integrity of rewards and consequences. Regular social curriculum programs and events will be scheduled throughout the year, to build community and to continue the educational process.
Students, along with teachers, will be active members in formulating, adopting, and monitoring a code of conduct for the school. The code will be reexamined and ratified every year to include new perspectives, and to affirm what is important to our school community. All students, teachers, staff, and parents will receive a copy of the current code of conduct. A teacher and student review panel will examine appropriate code of conduct infractions and make recommendations. The student in question will review recommendations and make amendments to conduct and behavior, and perform a school service project. The Dean of Students, along with parents, will review any second infraction, or major issue, adhering to clear rules and consequences, which are posted and distributed to the entire school community.
Educational Planning, Assessing and Aligning
Grade Level Teachers-Prior to the school year, grade level teachers will work together to examine and update curriculum maps and determine opportunities for integrative activities. During the school year, grade level teachers will meet weekly to discuss student needs, strategize interventions, and plan cross-curriculum activities.
Departments: Prior to the end of each school year, teachers in each department will meet with the Department Head to examine student progress in relation to the school’s accountability plan and departmental annual goals. (In year one the Principal will facilitate this process.) The department members will determine any necessary curriculum changes, additional teaching materials and tools, staff development needs, and department goals for the following year. Department Heads will meet individually with the Principal to review departmental needs and goals.
During the school year, members in each department will meet weekly to monitor goals, examine progress, discuss concerns, review student work and test results, and share best practices. The Department Heads will meet weekly with the Principal for supervision.
Educational Leadership Team- Department Heads will meet weekly with the Principal and Dean of Students as an Educational Leadership Team to determine school-wide educational issues, interdisciplinary strategies, review budgetary considerations, review test results, create a priority list, plan staff development activities, and set school-wide goals for the following year. During the school year, the Educational Leadership Team will meet weekly to examine progress, discuss concerns and plan strategies.
Teaching Approach and Strategies
Paulo Freire’s Critical Pedagogy demands that we move from a banking concept of education, in which students are passive recipients, required to memorize and repeat, to a Constructivist approach that encourages student participation in meaningful learning experiences. PFSJCS’ founders believe that education must be an active process that provides students with first-hand experiences to engage, stimulate, and inspire learning. Students who have a direct relationship to their education are able to experience personal ownership for learning, become active participants in the development, teaching and evaluation of their studies, and grow in both ethical and intellectual development.
PFSJCS is committed to the following instructional approaches:
1.Intentional Teaching: Education needs to be clear in its intention, purpose and meaning. Teachers, in preparing lessons, will consider: what is worthy of understanding; what will be accepted as evidence of learning; what skills will the students need to effectively achieve the desired results; and, what materials and activities will be needed to reach the desired goals. Students will be provided with a clear understanding of what is being studied: the standard and skill areas that are the focal points, the goals and objectives of the lesson, and the relevance of this study. It is important for students to ask the “essential questions” related to the learning, and identify the core ideas. It is also important to identify what will be expected as end results, what the students should know, understand, and be able to achieve with this learning experience. Finally, students will review the evidence that will be used to determine competency and success. Students will have the full scope of the study at the beginning of a unit. (Wiggins, Grant, and McTighe, 2005)
2-Active Engagement-Engagement is an essential key to learning. It is important to build on value-based, meaningful experiences that are relevant to the student. Brainstorming, dialogues, debates, projects, interviews, investigations, events, internships, visits, and travel give students an opportunity for personal input and experience. They are encouraged to question and work towards positive change. A students’ view of education is directed beyond the confines of the classroom, into the community and the world. Students learn to view everyone and everything as a personal resource to their education.
Students as Teachers- Students become leaders and collaborators in education, as they are able to develop curriculum, teach to their understanding, instruct younger students, become mentors, peer mediators, and tutors. Students become producers and directors of lessons and are able to see themselves as innovators and contributors. (Werder and Otis, 2009)
Service Learning- Students become responsible members of their community as they initiate and facilitate projects that provide support for the surrounding area. Students hone their leadership skills in democratic, and productive ways that have meaning to them and the people they work with and serve. Students create tangible results from their efforts and their influence and involvement has direct impact on their learning. (Komives and Wagner, 2009) (Cipolle, 2010)
3-Relevant Information and Activities- Education is about making connections, finding personal meaning, and building a relationship with what is being studied. The learning process must support the student in forming a connection with the subject, which goes beyond the standards and benchmarks into the personal life, culture, community and environment. In building a relationship to learning, associations are made and new access points and bridges to understanding are available. Personal history, belief systems, emotional landscapes, and cultural norms are an integral part of the process.
Relationship to Knowledge Base- Using scaffolding techniques to activate prior knowledge provides an immediate relationship with what is being studied. These initial connections create safety, meaning, and focus for the student. They also create a level of familiarity that demystifies new studies. (Beyer, 1991)
Relationship to Self- Seeing the connection, impact and relevance of information in relation to self, family, and surrounding community, encourages a personalized experience of learning. Examining the relationship provides a vehicle for an integration of cognition and emotion, and increases meaning. One can deepen an understanding by comparing and contrasting information to what is familiar and known. The questions that need to be asked are: “What meaning does this have for me?” and “How will I personally use this information?” (Gonzalez, Moll, and Amanti, 2005)
Relationship Across Disciplines- Examining ways that information integrates across the curriculum, in both vertical and horizontal ways, grade-to-grade, and subject-to-subject helps to bridge knowledge and forms unique and meaningful associations. Through the connection of ideas and values from different grades, courses, and departments, students experience learning that breaks down conventional barriers and establishes a nexus of ideas. (McNeil, 2009)
PFSJCS will utilize a wide range of teaching strategies and tools to help support individual student success. The following three modalities share common attributes, are consistent with our pedagogical approach, and will be utilized in all classrooms. Ljuba Marsh, our educational leader, has been a trainer and graduate school instructor, helping teachers across the state to use these specific teaching techniques. She will provide in-house teacher training and supervision.
1-Multiple Learning Styles- A multiple learning style approach demonstrates that every student has inherent capabilities that can be identified and utilized to support student success. It helps teachers and students develop a more holistic approach to learning and helps students to become more reflective and self-aware of how they learn best. Teachers learn how to incorporate a full spectrum of learning styles into their curriculum and assessment systems. During orientation, all students will take part in a multiple learning style lab in order to build a conceptual understand of multiple learning styles and experience ways to support their individual needs. Teachers will complete a self-assessment of their primary learning styles, so that they can affirm what is most natural for them, and build an awareness of what they need to work on and include in the classroom to support all learners. (Campbell, L., & Campbell, B., 2000).
2-Differentiated Instruction-This approach increases a teacher’s ability to address the individual learning needs of students by differentiating, not only through learning styles, but also by identifying an individual’s readiness and interests. Through differentiated instruction teachers build a positive and cooperative relationship with students, and create a safe and supportive classroom environment. Differentiated instruction incorporates a variety of strategies and groupings to engage, challenge, and support all students in reaching high-level achievements. Teachers will emphasize both linear and lateral thinking, connective and linking factors, scaffolding and mapping techniques, and integrative programs. Students will learn to use inquiry, assessment, and reflection as regular patterns of thought.
3- Brain-based Learning-This approach focuses on understanding how the brain functions and how memory and learning are enhanced. Brain-based strategies create safe, flexible, and cooperative educational environments that support students reaching their highest levels of achievement. Teachers and students learn to use instructional strategies that address natural memory, learner constructed meaning, mind-body connection, and non-conscious processing. This system establishes learning as the primary priority and creates understanding and structures for providing clarity and unity of purpose. (Jensen 1998)
PFSJCS will also incorporate the following tools to support classroom instruction:
1-Curriculum Maps- These are tools for organizing content, skills, assessments, and resources over the course of each semester and are helpful for cross-curricula planning. Curriculum maps can also be used in coordination with assessments to provide specific data and determine modifications of instruction.
2-Understanding By Design- This provides a framework for curriculum development though a “backward design” process that first identifies the goals and essential questions; next, determines the means of assessment; and finally, plans the appropriate activities. Teachers and students will be active partners in the design process.
3-Graphic Organizers-Teachers will use a variety of graphic organizers and thinking maps to help provide students with visual structures to convey ideas and see patterns and relationships.
Hiring Excellent Teachers
There is nothing more important to the quality of education than the hiring of excellent teachers. PFSJCS takes this task very seriously, and will use a comprehensive hiring process, developed by Ljuba Marsh and used successful at PVPA and other charter schools. The process includes: a thorough review of applications, initial screening interviews, candidate’s demonstrations of teaching and classroom management skills, and a day-long visit to our school. (See attachment pages 97-99)
Teacher Training, Supervision and Evaluation- PFSJCS believes that hiring excellent teachers is only the first step in creating quality education. We have a deep commitment to our teachers to provide ongoing communication, supervision, feedback, support systems, training, and a dynamic and responsive school community. We invest the time and resources necessary to have teachers make a long-term commitment to our school, and provide the consistency and collaboration necessary for achieving excellence in education. Prior to the start of the school year, new teachers will receive two weeks of orientation and training. The Principal and Department Heads will provide support, supervision, feedback, and evaluations, as outlined in a complete document. (See attachment pages 87-90)