The curriculum at ANCS does not rely on textbooks; rather, it is driven by rich and interesting projects and learning experiences that help students to show understanding and develop meaningful skills.

What We Teach and How We Teach

The development of curriculum and the teaching practices at ANCS are guided by the Common Principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools that place students at the center of their learning in a hands-on way, actively engaged in exploring questions and coached by their teachers towards the demonstration of mastery of higher-order concepts and skills. The curriculum at ANCS does not rely on textbooks; rather, it is driven by rich and interesting projects and learning experiences that help students to show understanding and develop meaningful skills. 

Teachers work collaboratively in developing the curriculum to reflect both the Georgia Performance Standards for each grade level and the standards of national discipline-specific organizations, and they use the Understanding by Design process as a planning framework. In addition, experiences that take students away from the school on field trips to support their learning occur on a regular basis.

Each grade level has year-long theme which serves as an organizing concept for the skills and knowledge expected for each year. The curriculum in grades K-5 uses basic scientific concepts as its focus.

Grades K-5

Once students have begun to build basic understandings and relationships with their world, they can then participate in more detailed and in-depth explorations of it.

The overarching themes for grades K –2 are CARING AND SHARING. Throughout these years, students experience firsthand the plants and animals of their world. The overarching theme for grades 3 – 5 is EXPLORATIONS. Once students have begun to build basic understandings and relationships with their world, they can then participate in more detailed and in-depth explorations of it.

In addition to the themes described above, each grade level has year-long theme which serves as an organizing concept for the skills and knowledge expected for each year. The curriculum in grades K-5 uses basic scientific concepts as its focus. Both the Georgia Performance Standards and national professional standards were considered and are maintained in the creation of the curriculum maps.

Grade Level Themes

Listed below are the themes (with thematic content summaries) for each grade level in K-5:
  • Kindergarten – Me, My Role and Responsibility
    • Place (backyard, home, state)
    Community
    Self
    Family
  • 1st Grade – A Year in Our Backyard
    Survival
    American Traditions
    Weather
    Cycles
    Patterns
  • 2nd Grade – Connections
    Connecting Ourselves
    Connecting Our Families
    Connecting to Nature
    Connecting to Our Past
  • 3rd Grade – Foundations
    Conservation
    Government
    Earth, Physical, and Life Science
    Economics
  • 4th Grade – How Do Populations Survive and Adapt To Change?
    Solar System
    Physical Features of the United States
    Populations Through History – How do underlying concepts (geography, politics, flora/fauna, economic, technology, culture, etc.) affect populations?
    Historical Periods – Native Americans, Colonization, Beginning of a Nation, Inventions, Westward Expansion, Civil War, Outer Space
  • 5th Grade – Truth: How Does the Evidence We Gather Impact Various Perspectives of the Truth?
    Systems – What are the underlying components of all systems?
    Responsibility – What is our responsibility to self, community, society and the world?
    What are the issues that arise from different perspectives throughout history?

Language Arts

In grades K-5, a comprehensive language and literacy framework using Lucy Calkins reading and writing workshop model serves as a conceptual tool for organizing instruction. To offer authentic reading and writing experiences for students, literacy standards are organized using a balanced literacy framework that pays careful attention to words and word study combined with natural experiences with print and oral language. This balanced approach includes the following components: reading aloud, shared reading, guided reading, or reading workshop, shared writing, interactive writing, guided writing or writing workshop, independent writing and letter and word study.

Mathematics

Mathematics in grades K-5 follows a program that embodies the vision of the rigorous national standards for mathematics developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS). Using the Everyday Math curriculum developed by the University of Chicago, teachers create math curriculum maps that provide a scope and sequence for math instruction for the year, essential questions, and assessment measures.

Learning activities emphasize the understanding of mathematical concepts through student articulated theories and strategies, focus on the myriad ways to solve problems, actively engage students through manipulative materials and games. Students develop flexibility and confidence when approaching a variety of complex problems, proficiency in using mathematical skills and tools, and fluency with facts, computation, and other areas of mathematics such as geometry, data and algebraic thinking.

Art, Music, & Physical Education

In the grades K-5, each week, students receive instruction in physical education, visual arts, and music. Teachers of these classes regularly collaborate with grade level classroom teachers to create integrated lessons/units and to support classroom instruction and student learning.

Grades 6-8

Students in grades 6-8 at ANCS continue in classes that integrate different disciplines built around essential skills and questions.

Building on the experiences of grades K-5, students in grades 6-8 at ANCS continue in classes that integrate different disciplines built around essential skills and questions, but the classes begin to specialize somewhat based on content area as students prepare for the transition to high school. 

Following an advisory session that begins each day, students in grades 6-8 have a daily schedule that rotates through three different blocks of approximately 2 hours each: one block of Math/Science/Technology, one block of Humanities (language arts and social studies), and one block of visual, performing arts, Spanish, and/or Fit for Life. For the 2016-17 school year, the middle campus has been designated a “candidate school” for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB MYP)

Humanities

In Humanities students develop skills in reading, language arts and social studies with primary attention given to comprehending, analyzing, and producing expressive pieces in a variety of different genres (persuasive, analytical, creative, narrative, poetry) while exploring different regions of the world. In the sixth grade, the content focuses on the culture, literature, and history of the western hemisphere: the Americas, Europe, and Oceania. In the seventh grade, the content focuses on Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, while in the eighth grade the emphasis is on Georgia history in the context of the history and literature of the United States. During the IB MYP candidate phase, Humanities teachers will transition to the use of the Individuals and Societies and Language and Literature frameworks.

Performing Arts & Visual Arts

Classes in the arts are designed to provide students with skills and ideas in a variety of artistic media and an appreciation for different styles of artistic expression. Students in the sixth grade have performing arts as their artistic concentration. Performing arts classes introduce students to basic theatre concepts and immerse students in different types of acting (monologue, plays, improvisation) as well as to various aspects of stage production. In the seventh grade, students have a visual arts concentration. These classes introduce students to techniques in drawing, collage, and other forms of expression. During the IB MYP candidate phase, Performing and Visual Arts teachers will transition to the use of the Arts frameworks.

Eighth grade students currently choose between taking a yearlong class in the arts or enrolling in a yearlong course in advanced Spanish. The eighth grade arts classes build upon the foundational skills developed in the sixth and seventh grades by giving students the opportunity to explore more sophisticated concepts and techniques. In visual arts, this includes two- and three-dimensional art making methods and mixed media. The performing arts class ranges in focus from scene study to play production. As part of the IB MYP candidate phase, all students will be required to take Spanish beginning in the 2017-18 school year. This change will require the 8th grade Related Arts choice process to be revisited.

Math, Science & Technology

The integrated math, science, and technology curriculum in grades 6-8 centers on essential skills and concepts to bridge students from the basic numeracy and emerging problem solving of elementary school to the more advanced thinking and knowledge necessary for success in high school. The content strands focus on foundations in algebra and geometry, number sense, probability, data analysis and measurement in math across all grade levels and use the JUMP math program as a guide. In science, the earth sciences (oceanography, astronomy, geology, and ecology) are the focus in sixth grade, while in seventh grade students explore content in the life sciences with an emphasis on biology. In the eighth grade, science content focuses on physical science, with strands in the nature of matter, laws of energy, matter, motion and forces, and energy transformation. Throughout their time in grades 6-8 students use technology as a tool to explore math and science with a focus on developing foundational computing skills and greater ease with different types of technology and their use. During the IB MYP candidate phase, MST teachers will transition to the use of the Mathematics and Sciences frameworks.

Spanish

Sixth and seventh grade students have Spanish class for one hour twice a week for the entire school year. In this class, Spanish language and grammar are taught through the context of cultural units to strengthen students’ skills in speaking, listening, writing, and reading the language with a progression from basic to more intermediate Spanish. Eighth grade students can opt either to take a yearlong course in advanced Spanish to further develop their skills and possibly earn high school credit, or they may elect to enroll in a yearlong arts class instead. As part of the IB MYP candidate phase, all students will be required to take Spanish beginning in the 2017-18 school year. This change will require the 8th grade Related Arts choice process to be revisited.

Fit for Life

All students in grades 6-8 take part in Fit for Life classes for the entire year. In Fit for Life, students develop their physical, mental, and social-emotional wellness. The curriculum—focused on sports and interpersonal communication activities, health and adolescent development, social-emotional skills, and other mind-body connections—uses a holistic approach to empower students to take responsibility for making healthy personal decisions. During the IB MYP candidate phase, Fit For Life teachers will transition to the use of the Physical and Health Education frameworks.

Advisory

In addition to the classes described above, students in grades 6-8 at ANCS are also a part of an advisory group. The advisory group is a small group of around 12 students who meet daily under the guidance of an advisor from the ANCS faculty. The advisor serves as the primary link between school and home for the student.

The advisory program in grades 6-8 is designed to help meet the developmental and academic needs of middle school-aged students. The central purpose of the advisory program is:

  • To create and support meaningful relationships within our community,
  • To develop and maintain students’ social and academic skills, and
  • To maintain relationships between home and school in order to ensure students’ needs are met.