Interdisciplinary study in social studies, science, health, and most of GICS’s literacy instruction is theme-based, provides opportunities for meaningful project-based learning, embeds technology, and fulfills Minnesota’s new Academic Standards. A three-year rotating curriculum provides the framework for this interdisciplinary coursework and ensures that every student experiences age-appropriate and sequential instruction across the curriculum throughout the student’s tenure at GICS. This integrated course of study supports student achievement by providing connections among academic subject areas.
Subject-specific, Commercial Programs
Students will receive math and beginning reading instruction in grade level groupings. Commercial programs will serve as the foundation for reading, math, and science instruction. Licensed staff will review and select each of these packaged programs based on the perceived quality of the materials, the comprehensive nature of each program’s prescribed curriculum, the appropriateness to the school’s educational goals, and the “fit” with the Minnesota Academic Standards. A reading series with a strong foundation in children's literature, similar to the one published by Scott Foresman, will provide a scope and sequence of instruction that is aligned at all levels. Foss Science, or a similarly developed commercial program, will incorporate a hands-on, discovery approach to science instruction, and a highly rigorous, hands-on program such as Everyday Math will be selected for mathematics instruction.
Reading instruction includes phonics and literature, sight word recognition, and writing-to-read methodologies. Emergent readers will receive reading instruction utilizing a blend of decoding strategies that foster fluency and comprehension in all genres. As students become more capable readers, reading instruction will be delivered in multiage settings and focus on increasingly complex comprehension skills and word etiology. Flexible groupings throughout the grade levels will provide opportunities for adaptations and modifications to meet individual learning needs.
Throughout the grades, literature selections, audiovisual media, and internet resources will enrich the commercial reading program. These enhancements, along with a well-designed plan for reading instruction, will result in a comprehensive literacy program. In addition, the literacy program supports social studies, science, and health thematic units. Students will hone their writing skills during extensive, authentic daily writing experiences. The literacy program will also provide opportunities for listening, viewing, and speaking skill development.
Because of the sequential nature of mathematics instruction, it will be taught in grade level groupings. The highly rigorous program that is selected will utilize manipulatives for concrete concept development, provide frequent authentic problem-solving activities in which students apply skills, and set forth a challenging approach to math instruction. A program approved by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) will be adopted.
Music, Physical Education, and Art Curricula
Music, Physical Education, and art instruction will provide a purposeful balance of academic, physical, and cultural learning. Each of these areas of instruction will occur in multiage settings with modified curricula designed for multiage delivery. Depending upon the number of students that enroll at GICS, Physical Education and Music instruction will occur two to three times per week, and weekly art instruction will be delivered by classroom teachers in core rooms.
Social, emotional, and behavioral components of a school’s program are rarely included as part of an academic curriculum, yet GICS planners believe the creation of a positive and respectful school climate in which there is a minimum of distracting behaviors is crucial to increased student achievement and to the development of a responsible citizenry. To that end, care will be taken to ensure students engage in meaningful community service projects, character education instruction, and significant relationship-building experiences.
Homeroom learning activities will be designed to allow opportunities to practice affective outcomes and students and staff will practice these behaviors each and every day. High behavior expectations, coupled with frequent and intentional interactions with elders from the Green Isle area, will generate a “kinder, gentler” school community. Furthermore, the Behavior Plan that will be developed with input from parents, students, and staff will serve as a learning tool to teach appropriate behaviors rather than to prescribe punitive consequences.
Global Sensitivity Activities
Since Green Isle, Minnesota, has a strong Irish heritage and is the only Green Isle in the United States, GICS will establish a partnership with a school in Green Isle, Ireland (or another Irish school). Other efforts to encourage a peace-filled, globally sensitive student body will include activities related to social justice issues, intentional civic projects, and cultural studies of nations of the world. The student body will collaborate to earn designation as an International Peace Site and strive as a school to live up to the intent of that honor.