Academic Program Overview

English

Academics

Our academic program is both rigorous and engaging. Grade level curricula are aligned to the California State Standards in every subject area. Our scholars receive instruction that is differentiated to meet their individual needs. We offer balanced literacy and Mathematics, comprehensive units in Science and Social Studies and ongoing formative assessments to ensure that our students are learning to their fullest potential. Throughout their years at the school, scholars look forward to the signature activities of each grade level, such as expeditionary field trips and service learning projects that are integrated into the core curriculum.

Language Arts

Acacia Middle Charter School scholars participate in a “workshop” method of instruction which allows teachers to tailor instruction to a child’s individual needs and interests. Our program offers a balanced literacy approach which includes instruction in writing, guided reading, phonics and vocabulary development.

Writer’s Workshop was developed by Columbia University’s Teachers College and allows each child to become an author of original work. The workshop process organizes best practices in the teaching of writing to provide each child with writing instruction that meets his or her individual needs. 

Writer’s Workshop has five main components:

1. A teacher mini-lesson to provide direct instruction in a writing skill

2. Independent practice in a writer’s notebook or writing folder at home and in school

3. Guided writing practice in small groups

4. Writing conferences to provide one-on-one feedback from the teacher with student writing

5. Working through the writing process to publish written work

A very important tool in Writer's Workshop is each child’s writer’s notebook.  The notebook is a place for our young writers to gather ideas and begin storytelling. 

Acacia Middle Charter School scholars learn to take these small ideas and elaborate to tell interesting and meaningful stories. Scholars will write a first draft, revise their ideas, edit, and publish a written piece about once every six weeks. Each class will then celebrate the author’s writing by providing opportunities for the writers to share their published pieces.

Reader’s Workshop organizes the best practices in the teaching of reading to provide each child with instruction that meets his or her individual needs. 

Reader’s Workshop has five main components:

1. A teacher mini-lesson to provide direct instruction and modeling in a reading skill or strategy

2. Independent reading at a child's just right level

3. Guided reading in small teacher directed groups with text at reader's instructional level

4. Reading conferences to discuss a child's just right book and provide direction for independent practices

5. Teaching writer's reflection to provide time to think and respond to questions about how we have grown as readers.

 

Mathmatics

Our math program utilizes Scott Foresman California Math which was written specifically to meet the California Content Standards in Mathematics, with contributions from leading mathematics educators from across California and the nation. Acacia Middle Charter School's approach to math instruction is workshop base with an emphasis on critical thinking and student led solutions. Our teachers supplement our math textbooks with learning resources from Math Coach and Marilyn Burns Math among others.

The components of Math Workshop include: guided practice, guided Math small group or individual work with teacher, work stations/independent practice, Math Facts/Fact Fluency, Do Now/Exit Tickets, Mental Math/Math Journaling and Assessment/Observational and Conferencing Notes.

 

The Arts

Students participate weekly in Visual Arts classes in order to learn the foundational skills and knowledge of artistic literacy.  Students create their own unique works of art, study the lives and work of various artists and attend assemblies that highlight the particular art forms they are studying.  In addition, the arts are woven into the framework of the academic program.  Since students need the same skills to make scientific observations as they do to draw a still life, we work to ensure that students transfer their knowledge and skill they learn in art classes to other aspects of the program.

Artful Thinking

Artful Thinking is a program that was developed by Harvard Project Zero in collaboration with the Traverse City, Michigan Area Public Schools (TCAPS). The program was one component of a larger TCAPS grant from the US Department of Education that aimed at developing a model approach for integrating art into regular classroom instruction. The purpose of the Artful Thinking Program is to help teachers regularly use works of visual art and music in their curriculum in ways that strengthen student thinking and learning. In addition, we provide direct Art instruction to classes twice a week in 45 minute sessions as well as Arts integration activities in the regular classroom.

Acacia Middle Charter School's Visual Arts program aims to teach our scholars to think as artists. Students are encouraged to seek visual solutions to the creative questions and challenges put before them. Through guided practice students will learn to use the materials and tools of the art studio to express their own sense of creativity. Students will be given the opportunity to explore a variety of artistic media and discover their self-expression.

 

Service Learning

A culture of mutual care and respect is nurtured through structured opportunities to build community, make positive connections with peers and adults and learn the valuable skills necessary for conflict resolution. Our weekly Community Meetings serve as a forum for school-wide discussion and celebration.

Service Learning through Social Studies and Science

An important pillar of our school’s charter is civic education through Service Learning. Each of our classes participates in interdisciplinary signature projects during the year as well as classroom activities and projects that connect to the California Social Studies and Science standards.

Art and Service Learning

Each grade will work on a in-depth Signature Project that fuses their studies in the 4R’s, literacy, service learning and the arts. These projects are based on grade level California State Standards in Visual Arts, Social Studies, and Science. In addition, Signature Projects use K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice (established by the National Youth Leadership Council).

 

Science

FOSS (Full Option Science System)

FOSS is a research-based science curriculum for grades K-8 developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at Berkeley. FOSS is also an ongoing research project dedicated to improving the learning and teaching of science. The FOSS project began over 20 years ago during a time of growing concern that our nation was not providing young students with an adequate science education. The FOSS program materials are designed to meet the challenge of providing meaningful science education for all students in diverse American classrooms and to prepare them for life in the 21st century. Development of the FOSS program was, and continues to be, guided by advances in the understanding of how youngsters think and learn. Our scholars participate in at least two hands-on labs every month.

http://www.fossweb.com/

Garden Program

We provide hands-on, garden-based activities based on California standards in Science, Math, Language Arts, Health and Nutrition, Ecology and Art. Each class receives 30 minutes of instruction in our edible classroom each week.

 

Physical Education

Our Physical Education program supports learning by providing safe, healthy and inclusive play and physical activity to schools at recess and throughout the entire school day. Our coach not only teaches PE, but also supports our teachers with their own PE instruction during the week. He also organizes games and activities for students during all recesses.

 

Support Programs

Counseling

Acacia Middle Charter School provides group therapy and student and family referrals for counseling services

Special Education

Students who may have specific learning disabilities are referred to the school's Individual Education Planning (IEP) Team. The team members include an administrator, resource specialist, health educator, speech therapist, classroom teacher(s), specialists, parent(s), and when appropriate, the student. A student found eligible for special education services may receive services for remediation and support.

Resource

The Resource Program provides additional help to academically able students who have an identified learning disability. Our part-time resource specialist provides individual remediation and support to identified students in the general educational classroom.

Speech

Speech and language therapy is provided for children who need assistance with language acquisition, comprehension, or verbal communication. Children are referred to the speech therapist for misarticulation of sounds, non-fluency, hearing difficulties, physical anomalies, (such as cleft palate), insufficient voice production, and language problems. Students are enrolled in individual or small group therapy on a weekly basis.

Student Study Team (SST)

The Student Study Team consists of an administrator, classroom teachers, parents, and support personnel as needed. The goal of the Student Study Team is to review a referred student's progress, gather pertinent information concerning the student's health and school history, and make appropriate recommendations. Student Study Teams meets monthly. Staff or families may request a meeting of the Student Study Team to review a student’s progress.

Before and Afterschool Program

The regular school day extends into a before and afterschool enrichment program. Students receive academic support in the form of structured homework assistance, academic support and multi-disciplinary activities, including Visual Arts, arts and crafts, Science exploration, and physical activity among others.  Other important program components include daily nutritious snacks, rest and relaxation and organized play. The afterschool program is fee based and registration is required.