Engineering and Energy:
The school will emphasize engineering and energy education with a strong environmental component. Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and the National Energy Education Development (NEED) will be the two pillars of the school's curriculum. PLTW centers on hands-on, real-world projects that help students understand how the information and skills they are learning in the classroom may be applied to everyday life. This program is comprehensive that begins in Kindergarten and continues until grade 12. PLTW is standards based, yet flexible and customizable to the needs of the school and students. This program lines up traditional math and science courses to include principles found in Engineering, Civil Engineering, Bio-Medical and Architecture. The elementary curriculum is called Launch. PLTW’s Launch taps into an elementary student’s exploratory nature while engaging them in problem solving and learning. PLTW Gateway to Technology (GTT) is the middle school version of PLTW. This activity-oriented program challenges and engages the natural curiosity of middle school students and is taught in conjunction with a rigorous academic curriculum. PLTW offers intensive and ongoing professional development through the University of South Carolina in Columbia.
The NEED (National Energy Education Development Project) program is nationally acclaimed with significant energy resources and substantial professional development opportunities for GCOM teachers. Students at all grade levels will learn about energy - heat, light, motion, sound, nuclear energy and electrical energy through age appropriate, hands-on explorations that emphasize the scientific process and experimental design. NEED provides comprehensive, objective energy information and activities on the energy sources that fuel the United States, including economic and environmental impacts. The history of energy, current energy events and the possible future of energy development are explored. Students discuss and debate the energy sources needed for today and for the future. A real plus for the NEED curriculum has been the continual updates that provide the teachers and students with the most up-to-date information and energy concepts available. These are proven programs that have been fully implemented in GREEN Charter School with tremendous academic success. These programs provide an Inquiry based method of instruction that promotes academic growth in scientific and mathematical skills in a problem solving environment. Both PLTW programs and the NEED curriculum are used in conjunction with an integrated science and math program that follow the South Carolina Academic Standards but goes much beyond the state standards.
We will offer integrated science in grades K-12 with a focus on building strong habits of mind and investigative skills while following the South Carolina state mandated standards. Our high school science program will include Physical Science, Earth Science, Physics, Biology (1,2), Applied Biology (1,2), Chemistry (1,2), AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, and Environmental Science. We will also offer robust internships, community-based fieldwork, and exploratory opportunities. The Science Electives provided by PLTW will be offered in both in middle and high school levels. The science curriculum will be guided by the course standards specified in the South Carolina Science Academic Standards.
With NAEP scores, TIMSS reports, and international benchmarks indicating drastic reform is imperative in science within the United States, GCOM will support an inquiry-based approach to learning valued knowledge in science through authentic experiences of questioning, designing, reasoning, analyzing, and communicating. Teachers will be expected to elicit critical thinking from their students through activities, reading assignments, debates, discussions, case studies, experiments, and student-driven research. Students will explore science concepts in depth in all of their classes and experience enrichment through clubs (SC Department of Natural Resources, 4-H Engineering, and Science Olympiad), field trips (universities, private labs, museums) and internships through community partners.
The spiraling mathematics curriculum provided by Everyday Math will offer mathematics courses for grades K-5. Everyday Mathematics is a research based comprehensive mathematics program developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project and published by McGraw-Hill Education.
In Middle School, the Mathematics curriculum is one of the most focused curricula in GCOM. The College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM) curriculum is developed and published by CPM Educational Program, Sacramento, CA. Students will have considerable experience in making data, tables, graphs, and geometric sketches and using them, along with symbols and clear English, to describe a wide variety of patterns and relationships. Students will examine the limitations of mathematical models in describing and predicting events in real world. They will be encouraged to state their own criteria for what is a satisfactory result to discuss their judgments in terms of their purpose. The Math Curriculum will align with State Math Standards.
The Mathematics curriculum in high school will provide a sequence of rigorous courses beginning with Algebra and leading to advanced mathematics. The math courses at GCOM will be aligned to meet and exceed the expectations of the South Carolina Mathematics Academic Standards based upon the premise that project-based learning will be integrated into every mathematics course in the school. By designing problems that are relevant, realistic, and rigorous with an emphasis on student interests, teachers can promote inductive reasoning and build computational skills that will endure through college or career pathways.
English/Language Arts will be offered at each grade level with an honors format option in high school. The language arts curriculum will be based on the South Carolina English Language Arts Standards.
The primary focus of the language arts program will be to help students use the reading process effectively. Students will be able to select and use pre-reading strategies that are appropriate to the text such as discussion, making predictions, brainstorming, generating questions, and previewing in order to anticipate content, purpose and organization of a reading selection. Reading will not be passive, but rather an interactive process involving the text itself, the reader, and the context of the reading situation. In addition, students will use writing processes effectively. They will be able to select and use appropriate prewriting strategies, such as brainstorming, graphic organizers and outlines. The students will also be prepared to use viewing and speaking strategies effectively and understand the nature and power of language.
GCOM will use a research based methodology called The Daily 5 in elementary. This methodology mirrors a Comprehensive Core Reading and Language Arts program. The CCRP correlates to all Reading and Language Arts SC State Standards and addresses the five areas of reading: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The CCRP is the tool used to provide initial and differentiated instruction and is used to expose and instruct students on grade level. All students will participate in a daily, 90-minute block of uninterrupted reading instruction following the high quality, explicit, and systematic initial instruction in the Reading curriculum.
The purpose of GCOM Language Arts program in the middle and high school is to provide instruction and promote academic excellence in reading, writing, oral communication, and the interpretation of literature. Instruction in language arts will continuously emphasize fundamental functions of language. The content will include, but not be limited to, the study and interpretation of traditional and contemporary literature, application of the writing process, formal grammar and usage in preparation for the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, and ACT sections of Writing and English, effective use of speaking and listening skills, higher-order reading skills in preparation for the State and other required Assessment Test, and study skills enabling success in school and beyond when entering the world of work. For students reading below grade level, remedial action will be taken and formalized assistance given.
GCOM founders feel strongly that our students must have a solid background in history and government in order to be a highly functioning global citizen in the 21st century. After a student’s sophomore year, he/she will have an opportunity to take psychology or sociology to help prepare them for an advanced placement social science in his/her senior year. Social Studies classes will be taught in a hands-on, project-based approach, relying on important primary source documents to address rigorous literacy standards along with technology to enhance the delivery of content knowledge or quality products created by students. Classroom debates and Socratic seminars will be commonly used teaching strategies to elicit student response and raise student engagement.
GREEN Charter School, the charter school being replicated, has been one of the highest performing academic public school’s in South Carolina using the above curriculum.