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 Standards for Excellence 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.
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
• How can I better understand who I am and the world around me?
• Why is it important to learn?
• Place: backyard, home, school, community, self, family
- 1st Grade – Exploring OUR World with Our Hearts and Minds
• How can we explore our world with our hearts, bodies, and minds?
- 2nd Grade – Connections
• How do connections help us understand ourselves, each other, and the world we live in?
- 3rd Grade – Foundations
• How do my foundations as a learner help me understand my world?
- 4th Grade – Conflict and Cooperation
• How does conflict impact, lead to, or influence change?
- 5th Grade – Perspective
• How does an individual’s perspective or collective agreements impact the greater community?
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 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.
Students in grades 6-8 at ANCS explore a broad and balanced curriculum that focuses on conceptual understanding and essential skills based on the world around us.
Building on the experiences of grades K-5, students in grades 6-8 at ANCS transition into 8 academic subject areas that focus on conceptual understanding and essential skills. These 8 subject areas are: Arts, Design, Health and Physical Education, Individuals and Societies, Language and Literature, Spanish Language Acquisition, Mathematics, and Sciences. Within each subject area, teachers focus on teaching and learning in context while still continuing to develop attributes of the whole child through explicit instruction in the Approaches to Learning.
Following an advisory session that begins each day, students in grades 6-8 follow an A Day/B Day schedule, attending 4 of the 8 subject areas each day in 70-minute blocks.
Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School is an authorized International Baccalaureate World school offering the Middle Years Programme. These are schools that share a common philosophy – a commitment to high quality, challenging, international education that Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School believes is important for our students.
As an authorized school, students at ANCS develop skills to be internationally minded lifelong learners with an emphasis on service. As students progress through the MYP at the middle campus, they work toward a piece of culminating work called Community Project. This work is an opportunity to show development of the Learner Profile attributes, the Approaches to Learning, and the Guiding Principles, all 8th grade students participate in the Community Project. This project encourages “students to explore their right and responsibility to implement service as action in the community. It gives students an opportunity to develop awareness of needs in various communities and address those needs through service learning.” The aims of the Community Project are as follows:
- Participate in a sustained, self-directed inquiry within a global context
- Generate creative new insights and develop deeper understandings through in-depth investigation
- Demonstrate the skills, attitudes and knowledge required to complete a project over an extended period of time
- Communicate effectively in a variety of situations
- Demonstrate responsible action through, or as a result of, learning
- Appreciate the process of learning and take pride in their accomplishment.
The Arts subject area is built on the foundation of creativity helping students explore, shape, and communicate their sense of identity and individuality.
The aims of the Arts subject area are to:
- Create and present art
- Develop skills specific to the discipline
- Engage in a process of creative exploration and (self-) discovery
- Make purposeful connections between investigation and practice
- Understand the relationship between art and its contexts
- Respond to and reflect on art
- Deepen their understanding of the world.
At the middle campus, students explore the Performing Arts during their 6th grade year and Visual Arts during their 7th grade year. In 8th grade students are able to choose which of the two arts disciplines they would like to explore further. Despite having two different arts explorations, students are evaluated on the criteria of Knowing and Understanding, Developing Skills, Thinking Creatively, and Responding in each year of the programme.
Arts guide, Sept 2014
The Design subject area serves as the link between innovation and creativity through the use of well-established design principles and processes. In Design, students apply practical and creative thinking skills to solve design problems.
The aims of the Design subject area are to:
- Enjoy the design process, develop an appreciation of its elegance and power
- Develop knowledge, understanding, and skills from different disciplines to design and create solutions to problems using the design cycle
- Use and apply technology effectively as a means to access, process, and communicate information, model and create solutions, and to solve problems
- Develop an appreciation of the impact of design innovations for life, global society, and environments
- Appreciate past, present, and emerging design within cultural, political, social, historical, and environmental contexts
- Develop respect for others’ viewpoints and appreciate alternative solutions to problems
- Act with integrity and honesty, and take responsibility for their own actions developing effective working practices.
Students explore aspects of both product and digital design during each year of the middle campus. The Design subject area uses the assessment criteria of Inquiring & Analysing, Developing Ideas, Creating the Solution, and Evaluating.
Design guide, Sept 2014
Individuals & Societies
The Individuals & Societies subject area has a strong focus on inquiry and investigation encouraging learners to respect and understand the world around them by helping students develop their identities as individuals and as responsible members of local and global communities.
The aims of the Individuals & Societies subject area are to:
- Appreciate human and environmental commonalities and diversity
- Understand the interactions and interdependence of individuals, societies, and the environment
- Understand how both environmental and human systems operate and evolve
- Identify and develop concern for the well-being of human communities and the natural environment
- Act as citizens of local and global communities.
Students in sixth grade explore the western hemisphere: the Americas, Europe, and Oceania. The seventh grade students focus on Asia and Africa. In eighth grade the emphasis shifts to Georgia history. Despite having a different region of focus in each year, students are assessed on the same four criteria: Knowing & Understanding, Investigating, Communication, and Thinking Critically.
Individuals & societies guide, Sept 2014
Language Acquisition: Spanish
The Language Acquisition subject area provides students with the opportunity to develop insights into the features of crafting language and the concept of culture in order to realize that there are diverse ways of living, behaving, and viewing the world.
The aims of the teaching and learning of MYP language acquisition are to:
- Gain proficiency in an additional language while supporting maintenance of their mother tongue and cultural heritage
- Develop a respect for, and understanding of, diverse linguistic and cultural heritages
- Develop the student’s communication skills necessary for further language learning, and for study, work, and leisure in a range of authentic contexts and for a variety of audiences and purposes
- Enable the student to develop multiliteracy skills through the use of a range of learning tools, such as multimedia, in the various modes of communication
- Enable the student to develop an appreciation of a variety of literary and non-literary texts and to develop critical and creative techniques for comprehension and construction of meaning
- Enable the student to recognize and use language as a vehicle of thought, reflection, self-expression and learning in other subjects, and as a tool for enhancing literacy
- Enable the student to understand the nature of language and the process of language learning, which comprises the integration of linguistic, cultural, and social components
- Offer insight into the cultural characteristics of the communities where the language is spoken
- Encourage an awareness and understanding of the perspectives of people from own and other cultures, leading to involvement and action in own and other communities
- Foster curiosity, inquiry, and a lifelong interest in, and enjoyment of, language learning.
Students explore the Spanish language during each year of grades 6-8. Spanish is offered in phases that progress in depth of understanding as the students grasp the concepts of language and culture presented. In the subject area of Language Acquisition, students are assessed in the four criteria of Comprehending spoken and visual text, Comprehending written and visual text, Communicating in response to spoken and/or written and/or visual text, and Using language in spoken and/or written form.
Language acquisition guide, September 2014
Language & Literature
The Language & Literature subject area exposes students to the areas of listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing, and presenting.
The aims of MYP Language & Literature are to encourage and enable students to:
- Use language as a vehicle for thought, creativity, reflection, learning, self-expression, analysis, and social interaction
- Develop the skills involved in listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing, and presenting in a variety of contexts
- Develop critical, creative, and personal approaches to studying and analysing literary and non-literary texts
- Explore language through a variety of media and modes
- Develop a lifelong interest in reading
- Apply linguistic and literary concepts and skills in a variety of authentic contexts.
Students in grades 6-8 explore a variety of genres (persuasive, analytical, creative, narrative, poetry) and literature from around the world while they develop their oral, written, and visual communication skills. Teachers utilize the Georgia Standards of Excellence as well as the Key and Related Concepts provided by the IB to develop conceptual units of study. Students are assessed in the four criteria of Analysing, Organizing, Producing Text, and Using Language.
Language & Literature guide, September 2014
This subject area helps students uncover the powerful universal language of Mathematics. It promotes inquiry and application through a search for patterns and relationships so that students can develop problem-solving techniques that transcend this single discipline.
The aims of MYP mathematics are to encourage and enable students to:
- Enjoy mathematics, develop curiosity and begin to appreciate its elegance and power
- Develop an understanding of the principles and nature of mathematics
- Communicate clearly and confidently in a variety of contexts
- Develop logical, critical and creative thinking
- Develop confidence, perseverance, and independence in mathematical thinking and problem-solving
- Develop powers of generalization and abstraction
- Apply and transfer skills to a wide range of real-life situations, other areas of knowledge and future developments
- Appreciate how developments in technology and mathematics have influenced each other
- Appreciate the moral, social, and ethical implications arising from the work of mathematicians and the applications of mathematics
- Appreciate the international dimension in mathematics through an awareness of the universality of mathematics and its multicultural and historical perspectives
- Appreciate the contribution of mathematics to other areas of knowledge
- Develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to pursue further studies in mathematics
- Develop the ability to reflect critically upon their own work and the work of others.
In grades 6-8 students are encouraged to construct their own meaning in the concepts presented to them, rather than just being presented with formulae and algorithms. Teachers in this subject area utilize the Georgia Standards of Excellence as well as the Key and Related concepts provided by the IB to develop units of study framed in real-world explorations. During each year at the Middle Campus, students are assessed in the criteria of Knowing and Understanding, Investigating Patterns, Communicating, and Applying Mathematics in Real-life Contexts.
Mathematics guide, September 2014
Physical & Health Education
The Physical & Health Education subject area seeks to empower students to understand and appreciate the value of being physically active and develop motivation for making healthy lifestyle choices. Engaging with ANCS’s mission of educating the whole child, this subject area connects with the holistic nature of well-being by encouraging students to appreciate and respect the ideas of others and to develop effective collaboration and communication skills.
The aims of MYP physical and health education are to encourage and enable students to:
- Use inquiry to explore physical and health education concepts
- Participate effectively in a variety of contexts
- Understand the value of physical activity
- Achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Collaborate and communicate effectively
- Build positive relationships and demonstrate social responsibility
- Reflect on their learning experiences.
Teachers in this subject area utilize the standards from the Georgia Performance Standards combined with the Key and Related Concepts provided by the IB to develop units that help students make informed healthy lifestyle decisions and promote positive social interaction. Over the course of the three years at the Middle Campus students are assessed on the four criteria of Knowing and Understanding, Planning for Performance, Applying and Performing, and Reflecting and Improving Performance.
Physical and Health Education guide, September 2014
The Sciences subject area guides students to independently and collaboratively investigate issues through research, observation, and experimentation. Students are encouraged to make connections between science and everyday life by identifying assumptions and alternative explanations.
The aims of MYP Sciences are to encourage and enable students to:
- Understand and appreciate science and its implications
- Consider science as a human endeavour with benefits and limitations
- Cultivate analytical, inquiring, and flexible minds that pose questions, solve problems, construct explanations, and judge arguments
- Develop skills to design and perform investigations, evaluate evidence, and reach conclusions
- Build an awareness of the need to effectively collaborate and communicate
- Apply language skills and knowledge in a variety of real-life contexts
- Develop sensitivity towards the living and non-living environments
- Reflect on learning experiences and make informed choices.
Students in sixth grade explore Earth Science, transition to Life Science in seventh grade, and finally experience Physical Science in eighth grade. Despite having specific areas of focus in each year, over the course of grades 6-8, students are assessed on the same four criteria: Knowing and Understanding, Inquiring and Designing, Processing and Evaluating, and Reflecting on the Impacts of Science.
Sciences guide, September 2014
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.