Connect4Learning (C4L) is a research-based curriculum comprising six units and 32 weeks of learning centers and lessons. It aims to synthesize research based approaches in four domains of learning: mathematics, science, literacy, and social-emotional development. Connect4Learning uses a project-based approach, in which children work toward a larger goal, such as playing a coral-reef scavenger hunt or converting their classroom into a museum throughout a curriculum unit. Each lesson can be tailored to fit the schedule and requirements of any classroom setting. Observation opportunities and individualized instruction strategies are built into the curriculum.
Teachers regularly observe and record children’s behavior, experiences and interests. Based on these careful observations, teachers are able to plan activities that will promote children’s growth and development. They also use these notes in parent meetings, conferences, and home visits to help parents better understand their children’s development.
The kindergarten environment is designed to provide the children an opportunity to build upon the skills they have attained in the preschool classroom.The kindergarten curriculum inspires children to develop inner discipline, self-assurance, and a love of learning through a rigorous English language arts and math program designed to teach students reading, writing, speaking, and listening, while developing deep vocabulary and broad background knowledge.
Elementary, Grades 1-5
The elementary curriculum is built upon the foundation laid in the lower elementary classrooms. New materials are introduced as the child moves from concrete to abstract thinking. The curriculum is integrated, individualized, academically challenging, and meets the developmental needs of each child, intellectually, socially, physically, and emotionally. The students experience individual, small and large group lessons, and projects. Subject areas include: language arts, math, social and science. Children build timelines, record science experiments, research and present written reports and projects, and learn computer skills. Field trips that relate to areas of study are scheduled to enhance the child’s learning experience. Organizational skills and independence are developed through the use of homework planners, and weekly schedules. Class meetings encourage cooperative efforts as questions of right and wrong lead to discussions on fairness, rules, and procedures. Also, literature circles serve as a venue for discussions about character development, responsibility, and accountability in our personal lives.
Middle School, Grades 6-8
With a ‘college to career connections’ mindset, the middle school team addresses two pivotal questions: What do we want an eighth grade graduate to look like when he/she graduates from New Branches? What skills are necessary for success in a global economy? The overarching goal of New Branches’ Middle School educational program is getting our students to work as a team while exposing them to the world of high school, post-secondary education and the world of work. The model also offers an academic curriculum based on Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. Additionally, our model includes professional development opportunities for teachers.
For a successful transition to high school, trade school and/or college and the workforce, we teach our students the following habits and skills to prepare them academically, socially, emotionally, cognitively, and morally:
- How to be career-focused and environmentally conscious.
- How to articulate and communicate ideas verbally and in writing.
- How to be organized, self-managed and motivated.
- How to question the world around them and investigate answers.
- How to be confident in their abilities.
- How to be leaders in their school and community.
- How to be highly focused and driven on work, learning and life lessons.
- How to recognize issues and find workable means for dealing with problems and work with diverse people.
- How to be a disciplined thinker that is clear, rational, open minded, and informed by evidence.
- How to implement study skills, particularly for passing tests, quizzes and other exams.
- How to have the ability and stamina to deal with a rigorous workload.
- How to work and live with integrity.
- How to have courage to stand up for what you believe in, determination, strong character-to model and make a difference, and grit.
- How to deal with stress using coping techniques.
Educational Development Plans for Seventh and Eighth Grade Students
- At the beginning of each school year, the students work with the teachers to develop and implement Educational Development Plans (EDPs) with all seventh and eighth grade students via one-on-one goal-setting meetings.
- The student follows the Xello program, which starts out as assessments in seventh grade and follows students through high school.
- In collaboration with teachers, parents, students and school leaders, students will have a copy of their EDPs by mid-October toward the goal of monitoring students’ success.
- Teachers and school leaders use the data from students’ EDPs to align lessons to students’ career goals, interests and educational needs. Parents, students, and teachers frequently meet to develop career paths that consist of revisiting students’ goals and making sure students are on track toward obtaining their goals and career aspirations.