English Language Arts (ELA)
The Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) Listening and Learning Strand is designed to help students build the background knowledge and vocabulary critical to listening and reading comprehension. The decoding skills needed for future independent reading are taught separately in the Core Knowledge Language Arts Skills Strand. The two strands complement each other, building the requisite decoding and comprehension skills that comprise fluent, mature reading. The teaching of the two strands, however, need not be correlated, i.e., teachers may provide instruction and practice in a given unit of the Skills Strand as needed, while moving on to new topics and anthologies in the Listening and Learning Strand.
Grades 4-5 ELA
The Grade 4 and 5 curriculum modules are designed to address Common Core State Standards ELA outcomes during a one-hour English Language Arts block. The overarching focus for all modules is building students’ literacy skills as they develop knowledge about the world.
Middle School English Language Arts
Students in Grades 6-8 are challenged to think deeply and analytically, studying texts that are complex but accessible — made even more so with digital supports. Our thoroughly interactive curriculum ignites a passion for reading and writing, with experiences that help students make tangible connections to what they are learning. Understanding rigorous texts, including classics from the likes of Frederick Douglass and William Shakespeare, requires additional scaffolding for many middle-schoolers. Amplify ELA presents challenging texts in a variety of ways, such as through dramatic readings and story animations by award-winning actors and artists. Giving students different ways to grasp texts makes close reading, the task at the heart of the new standards, possible.
Social Studies and Science Series: K-8
Our kindergarten and eighth grade classrooms implement the Pearson curriculum series for social studies and science. The Pearson program is a scientifically research based program that supports Michigan State Grade Level Expectations and the Common Core State Standards in literacy, science and social studies. It includes children’s books, flip charts, picture cards, song books, puppets, student workbooks, a full battery of assessments, and vocabulary cards. This program supports our mission of providing a rigorous, academic and cultural program where our children learn to become healthy, responsible citizens, life-long learners, and world leaders.
New Branches Charter Academy implements the Pearson program in its kindergarten through eighth grade classrooms. Our use of this program will help bridge the gap for children and families by providing an opportunity for consistency in their educational continuum. This curriculum complements our goal of preparing our students cognitively, intellectually, morally, physically and socially toward the goal of improving the global economy and instilling in each child a love for life-long learning.
Math In Focus: K-8
New Branches Charter Academy implements Math in Focus (2013), which “provides an authentic Singapore math curriculum—highlighting problem solving as the focus of mathematical learning. This complete program teaches concepts using a concrete–pictorial–abstract learning progression to anchor learning in real-world, hands-on experiences, supported by seamless integration of technology with the use of eBooks, Interactive Whiteboard activities, online student activities, online manipulatives, and a bar modeling app.” Math In Focus Supports the goals of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics; is research-based pedagogy, which focuses on classroom learning, discussion, and practice; and balances conceptual understanding, visual learning, and problem solving (Houghton-Mifflin/Harcourt, 2013).
At New Branches we believe that there is a positive correlation between a student’s health and well-being and his/her ability to learn. We play an important role in the developmental process by which students establish their life-long health and nutrition habits. We support this development by teaching, practicing and modeling the guidelines outlined below:
- Lunch meals prepared in the on-site school kitchen meet the required standards set by federal and state guidelines. Everyday lunch includes an array of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and whole grain items from which the students may choose.
- Studies have proven that students who eat breakfast in the morning are more prepared for learning. Therefore, breakfast is offered to all students, everyday, free of charge. Breakfast is served in the Cafeteria for students in grades 3-8, and in the Multi-Purpose Room for grades K-2 at the beginning of the school day in order to assure all students have access to a healthy meal.
- Students in our GSRP Preschool program eat all of their meals (breakfast, lunch, and snack) family style with their teachers in the classroom.
- Health and Nutrition education is integrated into the Physical Education specials class and classroom learning through the Michigan Model Curriculum. Additionally, our school follows the goals set forth in our Local Wellness Policy in regards to nutrition education, school policy, physical education and physical activity.
- Food is not used as an incentive or reward for student achievement in most cases; we focus on finding alternatives such as increased physical activity time or teacher time rewards.
- Classroom parties and celebrations may include healthy snacks or other small prizes. We believe it is important to teach students that celebration can be healthy and fun.
- Only foods that have been approved by the School Administrator in conjunction with the Coordinated School Health Team will be sold or used for any fundraising before, during or after the school day, including school sponsored sporting events.
- New Branches Team is expected to model the healthy habits. Our team members help students understand that healthy habits and choices will follow them into adulthood. Engaging in physical activities with the students and making healthy food choices are examples of the type of modeling we strive for.
All of the above guidelines are in place to help students learn that healthy choices will lead to healthy habits. We believe that providing healthy food options and fun physical activities during the school day will help children discover how to apply their learning to their life beyond the school doors.
At New Branches, we believe students should have the opportunity to be responsible citizens in caring, respecting and learning about the environment. The environmental focus begins in Kindergarten and progresses and builds upon knowledge of Michigan’s natural resources, environmental concerns and being stewards of the Earth.
Beginning February 2017, students will add an “Environmental Science” class time once per week. They will spend a class period working with our Environmental Science Specialist, Mrs. Hasenbank, and their classroom teacher to learn more about the environment.
- Every classroom offers environmentally focused lessons such as: weather, ecosystems, landforms, climate change, recycling, energy, and water quality.
- Students will learn about an environmental science theme each month.
- Students have the opportunity to participate and learn from environmentally focused science projects.
- Community Service: monitor water quality of Plaster Creek and report to the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, recycling cardboard, paper and plastics, and WeatherBug station reporting.
- Water recycling: Rain barrel water collection is used to water the school rain gardens.
- Students will celebrate Earth Week in April by participating in school-wide activities.
- Learning Excursions: Students have the opportunity to participate in learning excursions through grade level field trips in Michigan, e.g. Grand Rapids Recycling Center, Kent County Waste Water Treatment Plant, Blandford Nature Center, The Bunker Nature Center of Calvin College, Frederick Meijer Gardens, The Grand Valley Science Research Vessel, The W.G. Jackson docked in Muskegon, MI.
Middle School Science
Our middle school science program offers inquiry-based learning with an environmental focus. At New Branches Charter Academy, we know students learn best by doing, exploring, and creating. Kiddos love hands-on learning! In middle school, our students take field trips and create projects that serve to meet the Next Generation Science Standards. With the support of Pearson’s Interactive Science Curriculum, students track plant phenology, learn about Michigan’s environment, study climate change, create giant organelles, care for animals, explore microscopic organisms, and learn about how everyone impacts our world and community. Our program leads to career and college readiness!
Students will attend a specials class each day on a rotating basis where they will be exposed to experiences to help supplement their common core subjects.
- Physical Education
- Environmental Science (beginning February 2017)