At Rincon Valley Charter School, our primary method of instruction is Project-Based-Learning, which is defined as a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. Additional instructional approaches may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Utilizing strategies that emphasize critical thinking, complex reasoning, and differentiated instruction
- Providing students opportunities for feedback and choice that shape their learning experience
- Providing students with interactive learning opportunities within the community that bring them into contact with people with diverse perspectives
- Providing opportunities for students to engage in interdisciplinary and thematic explorations that require multiple levels of questioning and thinking
- Provide direct instruction and multiple opportunities to give and receive feedback in editing, revising, and finalizing work
- Utilizing modern technology to ensure that students become empowered learners, knowledge constructors, digital citizens, creative communicators, innovative designers, computational thinkers, and global collaborators
- Independent study in which the parent provides instruction in partnership/consultation with a credentialed teacher.
The following is a graphic comparison between traditional methods of teaching and project-based learning:
For more information on the research and efficacy of project-based learning follow this link:
The courses of study developed for our school are demanding, relevant, and taught through an interdisciplinary, project-based approach which encourages critical thinking and problem-solving. Students are better able to retain information and are more engaged when curriculum is presented through an integrated approach rather than through subject matter instruction done in isolation.
Our curriculum is based on the California Content Standards, including but not limited to the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and English Language Development Standards.
The core curriculum will include reading/language arts, mathematics, history/social science, and science. The content standards define for each subject and grade level the most important knowledge that students must acquire and the skills that they must master.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS
Students will demonstrate strong reading, writing, listening, speaking, and presentation skills, in multiple forms of expression (e.g., written, oral, multimedia), with communication skills appropriate to the setting and audience. They will comprehend and critically interpret multiple forms of expression including literature from various time periods and cultures.
- Students are required to articulate the expressed purposes and characteristics of different forms of prose, including the short story novel, novella, poetry, and essay. They will engage in identifying and tracing the development of an author's argument; reading, evaluating, and applying informational research as evidence of their own ideas; and analyzing setting, characterization, and conflict in fictional narratives.
- Word Analysis Fluency, and Systematic Vocabulary Development: Students must identify idioms, analogies, metaphors, and similes in prose and poetry and continue to clarify word meanings through definitions, examples, restatements and contrasts.
- Reading Comprehension – Nonfiction: Strategies focused on (I) use and analysis of categories of informational materials (e.g., consumer and workplace documents, textbooks, newspapers, instructional manuals); and (2) assessment of an author's argument.
- Literary Response and Analysis – Students are required to articulate the express purposes and characteristics of different forms of prose (e.g., short story, novel, novella, essay).
- The instruction is both deep and diligent and allows students ample opportunity to scrutinize a particular work. Selected works lend themselves to exploring with the students how events advance the plot; how each event explains past or present actions or foreshadows future actions, and how a character's thoughts, words speech patterns, and actions reveal characterization.
- Extensive independent reading is an important element of the curriculum – including good representation of narrative and expository instructional materials. A variety of methods are used to assess the reading done outside the classroom including student maintained reading logs and book reports in various formats.
- Writing will focus on multi-paragraph expository compositions. Students are expected to write texts of between 500-700 words for the purpose of informational summary, interpretation of literature, research reports, argumentative essays, and fictional narratives..
- Students will continue to develop strategies for organized writing with an emphasis on thesis statements, evidence, interpretation, documentation, and MLA format. Students will explore the various stages of the writing process including outlines, rough drafts, feedback, editing and revision, and finalizing.
- Students will be expected to demonstrate a general command of English language conventions in both writing and speaking.
- Curriculum emphasis at this grade level includes sentence structure (e.g., proper placement of modifiers and use of the active voice); grammar (e.g., proper use of infinitives and participles, clear pronouns and antecedents); punctuation (e.g., correct use of hyphens, dashes, brackets, and semicolons); and spelling (e.g., applying the spelling of bases and affixes to derivatives).
Speaking & Listening
- Students are expected to deliver focused, coherent presentations that convey ideas clearly and relate to the background and interests of the audience.
- Students will deliver well-organized, formal presentations employing traditional rhetorical strategies (e.g., narration, exposition, persuasion, and description) and strong presentation skills (e.g., maintaining eye contact, speaking loudly and clearly). Student speaking demonstrates a command of standard American English.
- Students are expected to demonstrate a wide range of speaking skills and strategies that may include but are not limited to: collaborative discussion, discussion preparation, following rules and formats of formal discussion, meeting deadlines, questioning ideas and making connections, interpreting evidence, analyzing purpose, establishing relevance, integrating technology, and academic language.
A high-quality mathematics program will be provided for each student. To compete successfully in the global economy, today’s students must have a high degree of comprehension in mathematics. The State content standards and key standards focus on essential skills to prepare students for the study of advanced mathematics, science and technical careers, as well as success in a secondary program.
Students will develop abilities to reason logically and to understand and apply mathematical processes and concepts, including those within arithmetic, algebra, geometry, etc.
The goals in mathematics education are for students 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 strategically
- Attend to precision
- Look for and make use of structure
- Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning
- Develop fluency in basic computational skills
Students will understand and apply historical, civic, economic, and geographical knowledge in order to serve as citizens in today's world of diverse cultures.
Grade Seven: World History and Geography; Medieval and Early Modern Times
Students in Grade seven will study the Americas and Afro-Eurasia between the years 300-1789 CE. After reviewing the ways in which archaeologists and historians uncover the past, students will study the great civilizations that were developing concurrently throughout the world during medieval and early modern times. They will examine the growing economic interaction among civilizations as well as the exchange of ideas, beliefs, technologies, and commodities. They will learn about the resulting growth of the Scientific Revolution, the Age of Exploration, and Enlightenment. Finally, students will connect democratic ideas that led to the foundation of the United States government and continue to influence the world today.
Grade Eight: United States History and Geography; Growth and Conflict
Students in grade eight will study the ideas, issues, and events from colonization to Industrialization. Students will analyze the heritage of our nation, the writing of the Declaration of Independence, framing of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. They trace the development of American politics, society, culture, geography, and economics relating them to the emergence of major regional differences. They will learn about the challenges facing the new nation, with an emphasis on the causes, course, and consequences of Westward Expansion, Civil War, Reform Movements, and Reconstruction. They will make connections between the rise of industrialization and contemporary social and economic conditions.
The science curriculum reflects a view of science as a balance between the body of knowledge, the practices that scientists and engineers use, and concepts that cross boundaries between disciplines. The curriculum provides the foundational skills and knowledge for students to learn core concepts, principles, and theories of science. The content standards are taught so that students have the opportunity to build connections that link science to technology and societal impacts.
- Students will successfully utilize scientific research and inquiry methods to understand and apply the major concepts underlying the life sciences and physical science.
- The study of science in seventh grade includes the structure and properties of matter, chemical reactions, history of Earth, Earth’s systems, matter and energy in organisms and ecosystems, interdependent relationships in ecosystems, human impacts, and engineering design.
- The study of science in eighth grade includes human impacts, space systems, history of Earth, growth, development and reproduction of organisms, natural selection and adaptation, waves and electromagnetic radiation, forces, interactions, energy, and engineering design.