ACADEMICS

The expectation at our school is that all students are learning at the high edge of their current abilities. This means that all students should find their work to be challenging, but not overwhelming, and that all should be engaged with a high level of effort and focus.

While all of our teaching is informed by the nation's rigorous common core standards in literacy and math, our learning experiences will not be dictated by any set curriculum. We will be hiring teachers who are strongly grounded in their understanding of the developmental level of the age group they teach and who demonstrate skill in creatively integrating the academic standards for that age group within interest-based inquiry projects.

Literacy

We infuse our preschool and elementary teaching with rich ways for our students to engage in the skills of reading and writing. For example, we agree with the common core standards that learning to decode words and independently read is developmentally appropriate between the ages of 4 and 6. Therefore some students may start to independently read and write before kindergarten, while others may not be ready until they are nearing the end of their kindergarten year.

Regardless, ALL students will be actively engaged in developing the skills and understanding that underlie the higher-order thinking that is necessary for meaningful communication. Students learn to communicate their ideas clearly to others as they draw designs that demonstrate their proposal for a new project or as they verbally negotiate their ideas in a group. Students develop the art of story telling during imaginary play, puppet-shows and dance performances. Within story hour all students are developing their comprehension skills such as making predictions, asking questions, considering character motivation, and pondering the author's message.

Mathematics

Children are in the concrete operational stage until around the end of elementary school, meaning that their world view is based on concrete objects and events. In terms of mathematical thinking, this means that our best instruction during these years is that which relates to meaningful events in the children's lives that pertain to real objects or people. At IC Community School we feel that it is more important that our preschool and elementary school students be able to solve real problems that arise in their inquiry projects using mathematical tools and strategies than that they memorize arithmetic. In addition, during Math Workshop we will pull engaging hands-on math investigations from the California-adopted curriculum, TERK, as well as teach a wide variety of math games during math workshop as a way to introduce the basic math concepts in a constructivst manner.

Our focus on developmentally appropriate uses of math in the younger years will give our students a deep understanding of how numbers work as well as a sense of confidence when approaching math. These skills and attitudes will give our middle schoolers a strong foundation on which to explore math in a more conceptual way as they move into more complex mathematical problems and their study of algebra and its application in the real world.

Social Studies and Science

All of our inquiry themes are either related to topics in social studies or science. Therefore, while many students in traditional schools may only have the opportunity to study these topics infrequently or superficially, our students will be constantly engaged in thinking deeply about social studies and science.

Our students will leave our school as confident, passionate and skilled learners who are prepared to take on the challenges of the academic path they choose after their time at IC Community School. Just as importantly, our students will have developed their creative and collaborative abilities along with the critical thinking skills necessary for participating successfully in today's society.