CURRICULUM

Our curriculum provides a balance between independent study, one-on-one instruction, group classes, community building, and the freedom for students to explore their own interests.  We encourage social justice, empathy, and social skills, and provide a flexible and open environment for students to learn and grow.

We work with students to help them build an individual course of study that suits their specific needs. This individualized program is organized and implemented through the use of the biweekly system.

BIWEEKLY

Every two weeks, students meet with their teachers to create academic goals in the following subject areas: geometry, reading, writing, vocabulary, Latin, and math. At the end of this period, students assess their progress over the previous two weeks and set adjusted goals for the next biweekly.

Students are free to choose what to work on during Academic Work Time, but are responsible for completing their work by the end of the biweekly. This structure allows students the flexibility to determine how to use their time, while providing a structure that ensures success. Students learn the invaluable skills of time management and task allocation.

MORNINGS

WRITING
Students work on their creative writing at the beginning of every morning. Many work on stories over the course of weeks or even months. After working silently in a comfortable spot, students and teachers come together to share their stories and poems. Though students are never required to read aloud, most choose to share. The group observes a few basic rules to assure that writers feel comfortable and respected. Writers get useful and supportive feedback and find that listening to their peers is as engaging as writing their own stories.

Students also turn in 14 essays throughout the school year based on writing prompts relating to that year’s humanities topic. We focus on three types essays: reading responses, research papers, and creative writing.

VOCABULARY/SPELLING
Four Winds uses the Wordly Wise series to challenge and expand students’ vocabularies. We can also provide additional spelling support if needed.

LATIN
Learning Latin is a great foundation for English grammar and vocabulary, as well as learning other languages later in life. At Four Winds we use the Ecce Romani textbook series.

MATH
Students practice math as a larger discipline rather than a series of discrete skills. From the evaluation each student is placed in a math program suited to thier level of achievement. Math lessons incorporate drills with math facts and problem solving, as well as a continual review of previously learned concepts. For middle grade math, they have the choice of working through the Incremental Math series from Hake/Saxon or the Math in Focus series from Singapore Math. If students advance to high school level math, they have a choice of using the Greg and Shawn Sabouri textbook series or the Summit Math series (which is just for Algebra I).

LITERATURE
Students read six to seven required books every school year, relating to that year’s Humanities topic. We also have a library of hundreds of other books for students to choose from in their free time.

AFTERNOONS

AFTERNOON CLASSES

After lunch on Mondays through Thursdays we have group Humanities or Science classes. In group classes, we typically start with a discussion and then do an activity or group work. Our Science and Humanities curricula run on the following four-year cycle:

HUMANITIES SCIENCE
Prehistory and Ancient Civilizations Life Science: Biology, Anatomy, & Psychology
1600s: Native People and European Colonists Earth Science: Geology & Meteorology
1800s: Industrial Revolution & Slavery Environmental Science: Ecology & Botany
20th Century: Social Justice, Wars, & Government Physical Sciences: Physics & Chemistry

Every winter we take a break from science class and have 6-8 health classes instead. Our health teacher, Brian Melanson from Whole Children/Milestones, uses the innovative Whole Selves program with our students to teach them about puberty, consent, boundaries, and more.

PROJECT TIME
After our afternoon class, we end most days with project time. During this time students can work on visual art or other projects such as fiber arts, knitting, crocheting, practicing an instrument, graphic or digital art, reading, creative writing, strategy games such as chess, or anything else that is in some way creative, educational, or enriching. At the end of the day, students have a change to share or show off what they created during this time.

CLEANING DAY
On Wednesdays, instead of having project time we instead work together to clean the building! Students work together in teams to clean the main classroom, quiet room, and bathroom. In addition to working on valuable teamwork skills, they also learn how to vacuum, dust, wash, and scrub. This teaches students accountability and respect for the building, because they know if they make a mess, they’ll be the ones to clean it up. This part of the day is usually pretty fun, and once students are done they have free time until pick up time.

FIRST FRIDAYS

On the first Friday of the biweekly we focus on Social Emotional Learning. After Creative Writing time, we have:

Mathtivity, in which students explore a wide variety of topics including the history of math, the work of individual mathematicians, and mathematical applications. Unlike a traditional math class, however, students explore these topics through hands on, “low floor, high ceiling” activities while simultaneously developing their Growth Mindset and Critical Thinking skills

Skills Workshop, in which students explore topics relating to our school and wider communities. Students develop skills for social interactions, emotional regulation, social justice, and study habits. They are also able select topics for discussion allowing the curriculum to be personalized to their specific needs and interests.

Fun Friday Activity, which can range from bringing in visitors to share their expertise or activities with the class, visiting one of the many local museums or parks, or nearby Barton’s Cove for a fun outing, or doing something fun together at school such as our fall pumpkin carving party or winter holiday party, or sometimes even just watching a movie together for fun.

SECOND FRIDAYS

After Academic Work Time on the second Friday of the biweekly, students who have completed their work have free time. Students who have not will continue working until 2:30, at which point we all meet together to set reflect on what went well or didn’t go well from the previous biweekly and to set goals for the next one.

Students who still haven’t finished their biweekly work by the end of the day will have to complete it for homework, but that’s the only time that students have assigned homework. This helps to teach accountability and valuable time management skills. Parents will learn if their student has homework in the progress report that we send out every other Friday.

 

WEEKLY SCHEDULE

TIME MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY 1ST FRIDAY 2ND FRIDAY
8:30 – 9:30 Poems & Writing
9:30 – 10:45 Academic Work Time Mathtivity AWT
10:45 – 11:00 BREAK
11:00 – 12:30 Academic Work Time Skills Workshop AWT
12:30 – 1:30 LUNCH
1:30 – 2:30 Humanities Science Humanities Science Fun Thing: Movie, Free time / work time
2:30 – 3:30 Project Time Project Time Cleaning Day Project Time field trip, activity, etc Biweekly Writing