Alamance Community School follows the NC Standard Course of Study http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/curriculum/ for English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. These standards outline state, national, and international benchmarks for achievement for all students. Teachers at ACS help students realize these achievement goals through research-based and developmentally appropriate methods and best practices in education. Effective classroom instruction in all subject areas at all grade levels includes the use of small group activities, project-based learning, classroom workshops, integrative units, authentic experiences and reflective and formative assessments.
Reading Workshop, Phonics, & Word Study: ACS uses the NC Standard Course of Study in Reading and follows the Reading Workshop Model from Teachers College at Columbia University and uses the Fountas and Pinnell Guided Reading Mini-Lessons Book in addition to the Fountas and Pinnell Phonics & Word Study curriculum. In Reader's Workshop, students develop strong reading skills through the use of: Mini-lessons, Small guided reading groups, Read alouds, Conferencing, Independent reading, Literature response, Purposeful share, and Literacy workstations.
Writing Workshop: ACS uses the NC Standard Course of Study in Writing and follows the Writing Workshop Model from Teachers College at Columbia University. In Writer's Workshop, students are invited to live, work and learn as writers. Students learn writing craft techniques and to observe their lives and the world around them while collecting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Students are given time to write, applying the skills and strategies they've learned to their own writing projects. As students write, the teacher provides feedback. Feedback is given through one-to-one conferences and small group instruction, and includes instructional compliments and teaching.
Math Workshop: We use the NC Standard Course of Study in Math and follow a Math Workshop Model. We pull from multiple resources to meet the math standards, including Math in Practice by Sue O’Connell, math talks, math tasks, and the NC DPI math resources. First, students have a math mini-lesson. Next, students rotate through math workstations, including a small-guided math group with the teacher on the student’s instructional level.
Project Based Learning/PBL
Project Based Learning/PBL at ACS can take many forms. All of our extensive grade level projects are aligned with the NC Essential Science and Social Studies standards and encompass many subject areas, connecting multiple fields of thought, and span most of the quarter. Other projects might be a “passion” project, a topic that the teacher and students want to investigate further. “Passion” projects are usually a couple of weeks in length. Field experiences (field trips) and guest experts are key component in Project Based Learning (PBL) and are a part of ASC’s project work curriculum.
All projects, however, offer rich educational experiences in which children are engaged in meaningful work that matters to them through tasks and inquiries designed to meet educational standards. Meaningful projects have several key components:
A need to know that provides an authentic reason for learning
A driving question to focus investigations and provide purpose and challenge
Student choice among options for learning and presentation
21st century skills including collaboration, critical thinking and technology
Opportunities for inquiry and innovation
Opportunities for achieving best work through feedback, revision, and reflection
Public exhibition of work
Through these experiences, students practice and develop the habits of mind and characteristics of life-long learners including persisting, thinking flexibly, striving for accuracy and precision, questioning and posing problems, creating, imagining and innovating, and thinking interdependently.
Responsive Classroom: At ACS, we use a system of classroom management called Responsive Classroom (RC). RC’s main goal is promoting optimal student learning and creating a caring community of students and staff. It is a research-based program that shows students learn best when they feel safe, challenged, and happy. The main components of RC are Morning Meeting, Hopes and Dreams, Rule Creation, Guided Discovery, and Logical Consequences. During the first six weeks of school, students spend time learning the rules, routines, and procedures that will foster our students as independent learners and will help our classrooms run smoothly. Morning Meeting is an opportunity to connect with classmates and build a strong classroom community. Morning Meeting, students will gather on the carpet and have time to greet each other and share any news they might have. In addition, students will work together to create a set of classroom rules that encourage responsibility and kindness. When children are involved in setting the standards for their classroom behavior, it is more meaningful to them. Guided Discovery allows students to explore new materials and classroom activities in an organized fashion, under the guidance of the teacher. The use of Guided Discoveries will help to make sure that students know how to properly care for materials in their classroom. Sometimes students make choices that are not acceptable. When this happens, we will use Logical Consequences; we will respond to the student's misbehavior in a way that encourages the student to correct the situation and learn from their mistakes without losing their dignity.
Specials: Students rotate through specials’ classes to gain exposure to other disciplines and enrich their experiences. Specials are: Art, Music, PE, STEM and Project Connections.