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Curriculum & Philosophy


Philosophy

Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School provides Project Based Learning Opportunities. Thematic integrated curriculum is prevalent in the classrooms on a daily basis. Individualization of instruction, student choice, public exhibitions of achievement, and community service are vital aspects of the school’s Project Based learning pedagogy.

The MVPCS uses the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks to structure and guide curriculum at all developmental levels.


The Curriculum Guide is available in PDF format here

Personal Education Plans

We have created a video about Martha's Vineyard Charter School PEPs — with students, parents and teachers. It can be found here. >

Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School provides Personal Education Plans.
PEPs are regular, personalized & goal-oriented
conversations with students, teachers and parents. Different from parent-teacher conferences, PEPs provide each student an opportunity to become involved in and take ownership of their educational experience by permitting them the forum to express themselves and advocate for their own education and school experience.

Project Based learning opportunities using thematic integrated curriculum are prevalent in the classrooms on a daily basis.  The individualization of instruction, student choice, public exhibitions of achievement, and community service are vital aspects of the school’s project based learning pedagogy.  The MVPCS uses the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks to structure and guide curriculum at all grade levels.


Kindergarten

Personal Growth and Development

Productive participation, respect to classmates and teachers, ability to transition easily from one activity to another, and the development of clear communication skills are qualities that are nurtured in the kindergarten classroom.

 

General Approach to Learning

General approach to learning includes focus and enthusiasm, following directions, respect and understanding of classroom routines and guidelines, the ability to work independently and in small and large groups, and participation in public exhibitions of school work.

 

Reading

The Guided Reading instruction is an opportunity to work with small groups focusing on specific topics or stages of literary development using a variety of literacy games that help promote peer learning.

 

Writing

The goals for beginning writers include recognition of lower and upper case letters, recognition of letter/sound correspondence, and the use of inventive spelling to understand picture/text relationship. Fine motor, prior knowledge, attention level and interest areas are the focus areas of these beginning writers.

 

Math

The Singapore Math series is introduced at this level to facilitate understanding of math concepts which include number sense, patterns, and geometry. Math concepts are introduced throughout the school year through a variety of activities and games.

 

Social Studies

The students are encouraged to focus on building a healthy and unified community. Cooperation, responsibility, respect, and trust are daily areas of focus as they relate to the School’s Rights and Pillars. Throughout the thematic studies during the year the students explore varying global attributes to help them understand the relationship between living and nonliving things and how they relate to the world around them.


Science

A number of activities encourage students to investigate, question, experience, and experiment through the process of discovery and inquiry. Critical thinking and research skills are goals of the program.


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Grades 1 and 2

Six through Eight-Year-Old Program (Grades 1 and 2)

English Language Arts
The language arts program incorporates principles and activities from a number of approaches.  Guided Reading, Four Blocks, Fundations, and the 6+1 Traits of Writing are methods that guide instruction.  Reading skills addressed include word work, decoding strategies, reading fluency and comprehension.  The students work with whole group and in small, flexible, multi-age teams based on similar needs.  Reading levels are determined by using the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA).  Language Arts centers offer the children the self-directed activities around the room that develop their independent skills and enjoyment of literature.  The children write throughout the curriculum for different purposes.  The development of ideas, organization, writing voice, penmanship, spelling, and vocabulary development are continually addressed.


Mathematics
The Singapore Math Program is used at this level. Daily whole group discussions encourage the use of mathematical vocabulary as students explain their thinking.  Discussions also guide the students as they make connections and learn problem-solving strategies.  These are followed by hands-on activities, cooperative math games and independent journal work.


Social Studies
Social studies curriculum coincides with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks of history and geography, economics, civics and government.  In the beginning of the year the children review the School’s Rights and Pillars.  These founding principles help to guide the children as they conduct themselves independently and interact with others in the learning community.  The two-year span includes work with maps, the ocean economy, geology, patriotic signs and symbols, and immigration.


Science
Inquiry based learning drives the science portion of the thematic studies curriculum. This involves the children in the techniques of questioning, predicting, exploring, observing, and recording.  Research skills using nonfiction texts along with hands-on science experiments, activities and class trips are included and coincide with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.  The two-year span includes the following topics: The Earth and Space, Solar System, Dinosaurs, The Ocean, Simple Machines, Inventions and The Human Body. 


Project Based Learning

A variety of projects complement the entire classroom curriculum.  Twice a year the students display projects in public presentations that show each student’s mastery of subject matter and achievements.

 

Specials

Physical Education, Spanish, Music, Art, Drama, and electives (Artists in Residence) are part of each student’s week.              

 

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Grades 3 and 4

Eight through Ten-Year-Old Program (Grades 3 and 4)

English Language Arts

The English Language Arts program includes guided reading instruction, focused area instruction, phonics, and writing through flexible, multi-age groupings. Writer’s Workshop, independent reading (DEAR), poetry, expository and creative writing, cursive, spelling, vocabulary, and research skills are regular and essential components of the program. The literature and writing program is thematically based. Literacy skills are assessed using the Beaver (Developmental Reading Assessment), Ekwall-Shanker, Gambrell (Motivation to Read), GRADE, and Qualitative Reading Inventory assessment instruments in October and April.

 

Mathematics

The Singapore Math series is the text used to teach number sense and operations, patterns, relations and algebra, geometry and measurement, and data analysis, statistics and probability. The class is assigned to grade level groups to match the math series’ grade level expectations.  Small group and individual learning opportunities are prevalent daily.

 

Social Studies

The social studies curriculum focuses on themes during the two-year cycle to study ancient world cultures, democracy, history, economics, governmental structures, US and world Geography, Native Americans, and early American History.  The students work on writing and research skills, cooperative learning and citizenship through the social studies curriculum.


Science

Thematic units are the core of the science curriculum revolving around the study of Plant and Animal Life Cycles, Adaptations, Electricity and Magnetism, Rocks and Minerals, Matter, Weather and Climate. Inquiry, observations, predictions, questioning, hypothesizing, and conclusions are present in all scientific investigations.

 

Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning opportunities using thematic integrated curriculum are prevalent in the classroom on a daily basis. The individualization of instruction, student choice, public exhibitions of achievement, and community service are vital aspects of the Project Based Learning pedagogy.

 

Specials

Physical Education, Music, Spanish, Art and electives (Artists in Residence) are part of the weekly activities for each student.


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Grades 5 and 6

Ten through Twelve-Year-Old Program (Grades 5 and 6)

English Language Arts

The English Language Arts Program is focused on literature, composition, and word study.  Classics, Fantasy, and Poetry Anthology are major components of the literature program during the two-year cycle.  Composition includes narrative, persuasive, and expository writing.  Word study involves vocabulary, spelling, Greek and Latin root words, prefixes, suffixes, phonics, and dictionary skill work.  Thematic units used during the two-year cycle are the Biography Project, Historical Fiction Study, and School Literacy Publications.  The student’ understanding of literacy is assessed using the Mass. Curriculum Frameworks, GRADE and the Ekwall Shanker assessment instrument.

 

Mathematics

The mathematics program uses the Singapore Math program to teach math at grade levels (5 & 6).  Number sense, statistics and probability, patterns relations and algebra, and geometry and measurement are covered through activities using worksheets, word problems, manipulatives and games.  The students’ understanding is assessed weekly using the computer-based Accelerated Math program to direct individualized and large-group instruction. 

 

Social Studies

The thematically driven curriculum for social studies includes geography, exploration, colonization, slavery, the American Revolution, and westward expansion for first year students.  Second year students expand the boundaries of North America to study world geography through the lens of economics, geography, and civics and government.  All students are exposed to a wide variety of experiential learning through research and analysis of non-fiction and fiction literature, secondary and primary sources, oral presentations, art, theater, poetry, and chart and map study.  Students create evidence of their learning to show their progress on the school assessment tool.  The assessment tool is tied into the Mass. Curriculum Frameworks.

 

Science

The Science program uses an active, inquiry based approach to discovery. The two-year cycle studies Electricity and Magnetism, Astronomy, Environmental Science, Geology, Physics, Life Science, Physical Science, the Island Ecosystems, Molecules, Sound, and Light.  Active exploration, experimentation, observation, class discussion, nonfiction literature, writing, and projects are the strategies used to enhance learning. The unique environment of Martha’s Vineyard Island and its resources are an integral part of this curriculum.

 

Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning opportunities using thematic integrated curriculum are prevalent in the classroom on a daily basis. The individualization of instruction, student choice, public exhibitions of achievement, and community service are vital aspects of the Project Based Learning pedagogy.

 

Specials

Each student’s week includes World Language, Art, Physical Education, and Electives (Offerings and Artists in Residences).

 

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Grades 7 and 8

Twelve through Fourteen-Year-Old Program (Grades 7 and 8)

English Language Arts
The program focuses on critical reading, class discussion, the writing and revision process, vocabulary, and grammar instruction.  Writer’s Workshop is a key component. The short story, essay, memoir, poetry, biography and autobiography, literary analysis, and individual research projects are units of study. Reading assignments include The Adventures of Ulysses, The Giver, Of Mice and Men, The Outsiders, and various short stories and poetry.


Mathematics
The math text, Connected Math, sets the course of study of the strands of Number Sense and Operations, Patterns, Relations, and Algebra, Geometry and Measurement and Data Analysis, and Statistics and Probability.  Students study elements of graphing linear equations and inequalities while exploring the workings of a graphing calculator.  Small and large group instruction is consistently part of the pedagogy. The Accelerated Math Program supplements the program and to increase individualized instruction for the students

Social Studies

In this two year course the students study the foundations of human society and the development of cultures around the world. The scope of the study is broad- from our most distant ancestors through the Holocaust.   Students gain a deep understanding of human behavior and the role of geographic location in the development of societies.  The course examines the archeological and scientific evidence for African genesis and human migration across the globe.  Classes examine the rise of civilizations in river valleys and the spread of culture by the sea peoples around the Mediterranean.  The classical civilizations of Greece and Rome and the development of western civilization are examined.   The Course examines the environmental, social, political, religious and economic aspects of the classical world through to the Medieval European ages.  A significant part of the course uses the text Facing History and Ourselves; A study of the Holocaust and Human Behavior


Science

During this two year course, logic, chemistry, physics, and design are focal topics during one year.  Modern chemistry from phases and phase change, the structure of atoms, arrangement in the periodic table, and simple stoichiometry are investigated.   A combination of human anatomy and physiology help underpin our physics based investigations. Using the ocean as an overarching theme, students begin the next year by examining ideas relating to the origin of the solar system and the formation of planet Earth, its present structure, and plate tectonic theory. We then examine the evolution and present composition of the atmosphere, the water cycle, winds and ocean currents. Cellular structure, function and reproduction, eugenics and Mendelian genetics, classification, trophic interactions, and human impact on environmental ecosystems are investigated. The year culminates with the presentations of their Marine Environment portfolios.

Specials
Each student studies Art, Spanish, Physical Education, Life Skills, Computer Technology and Electives (Offering and Artists in Residence classes) each week. 


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High School Program

The High School program is divided into two separate programs with a set of distinct goals.  The ‘First Years’ (ninth and tenth grades) program is classroom and curriculum centered offering a variety of project based learning experiences in preparation for the 10th grade MCAS tests.  The ‘Penultimate and Ultimate Year’s’ program is driven by independent research experiences, referred to as portfolios and juried exhibitions, under the supervision of the faculty.  In addition, the students are required to demonstrate 12th grade understandings as outlined in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.


Grades 9 and 10

The First Years Program (Grades 9 and 10)


English
The students will read four works of literature, Romeo and Juliet, The Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men, and The Great Gatsby. These works will be discussed as a class, analyzing literary elements and the language that each wrier employs. Each of these units will culminate in a final project. Throughout the semester the class will engage in daily writing exercises, poetry analysis, grammar and vocabulary study, and independent reading.

 

Mathematics
The major theme this year, “Examining Structure in Mathematics” will engage students in activities that develop their ability to analyze the structure of mathematical representations. Students will utilize structural analysis to reinforce and deepen their understanding of concepts in algebra, geometry and data analysis.


Social Studies
The focus on the history of war and conflict will be studied and researched this year from Reconstruction to the present. Through first hand accounts and major texts, students will learn about why and how this country chose to enter into wars and conflicts, and what the outcomes were for both sides. Current events will focus on present day conflicts the United States are involved in, and how they relate back to the nation’s history of war and conflict on the whole.

 

Science
Engineering and Experimentation will be explored this year. Mechanical principals by building automata moving models, elements of computer-aided design using “Inventor”, and basic statistics to apply to experiential findings will be explored this year.


Specials
Physical Education, Art, Electives, Community Service Learning, and World Languages are part of each student’s week.  In addition, each student participates in a weekly mentorship with an Island adult in an area of interest to the student.

 

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Grades 11 and 12

The Penultimate and Ultimate Years Program (Grades 11 and 12)


English
This course will focus on World Literature. Make connections between themes and genders, examine narrative techniques, and do in-depth independent work on mythology and literature of a region. On-going writing will be focused on arguments and essays with supporting details, narratives and revision for clarity.

 

Math

Grade 11

The course presents advanced topics with emphasis on polynomials, complex numbers and vectors, and trigonometry. The course begins with a review of algebra fundamentals before expanding into transformations of functions, polynomials, and systems of equations and inequalities. Second semester topics include sequence and series, the binomial theorem, data analysis, statistics, and probability.  These fascinating and interconnected topics are presented conceptually as well as in the form of real-world applied problems.

Grade 12

This course begins with a review of algebra fundamentals before branching into advanced trigonometry and polar calculus.  The course will explore applications of data analysis, statistics and probability.  These fascinating and interconnected topics are presented conceptually as well as in the form of real-world problems.


Social Studies
Social Justice is the main theme for this course. Identity and social norms play a large role in defining and restricting social and economic mobility.  Environment Protest, Talking About Religion, Making the Case for Liberation and Social Justice-Civil Rights, and Gender and Sexual Orientation From Before Stonewall will drive the research and study in this course.

Science
Global population, energy and pollution will be the themes for this course. Investigate and document the impact humans have on the environment will take place all year. Connections to community based organizations will be instrumental in our work this year.


Portfolio and Juried Exhibition

A portfolio is a year-long project each student completes each year of high school on a subject of his/her own choosing. Final portfolios look very different; generally, however, portfolios include a written component, and some combination of personal experience and research. The course is designed to support students in the development, implementation and presentation of a portfolio that reflects in-depth understanding and self-directed learning.

Specials
Each student participates in Physical Education, Community Service Learning, Art,
Electives, and World Languages each week.  In addition, each student is engaged in a weekly mentorship with an adult in an area of interest to the student.

 

Offerings, Project Period, & Artists-in-Residence

 

In addition to addressing student interests during the daily classroom structure, the MVPCS puts great emphasis on the afternoon Offerings, the two-week Project Periods in February and June, and the ongoing Artists-in-Residence Program.

 

The Offerings are electives offered to the ten through fourteen-year old-students.  They take place on Monday and Friday afternoons.  During these classes, teachers share a variety of learning experiences with students, which often center on the teacher’s own interests and hobbies.  Some of the past year’s course titles were:  Theater, Let’s Build a Dory, Creating With Out and About Photography, Figure Drawing, Screen Writing, Ultimate Frisbee, Stock Market, Chain Mail, Chorus, Soccer, Pencil Drawing and Architecture.

 

Project Period takes place twice a year- two weeks in December and the last two weeks of the school year. The students select a course of study from an array of courses designed by the faculty. Curriculum connections to the MA Curriculum Frameworks as well as the assessment rubrics are the foundation of each course.  Each course requires a public exhibition of the work accomplished during the course.  Course titles have been:  Boat Building, Animals Around the World, The Lorax, North Country Trek, Wellness and Fitness, Writer’s Life, Biking, Walkabout, Island Outside, Photography and Independent Study.

 

The Artists-in-Residence Program has existed since the school first opened.  Every student in the school has the opportunity to participate in these weekly, Wednesday afternoons, multiage classes.  Students engage in a variety of artistic endeavors while directly learning from the experts.  Course titles have included:  Storytelling and Puppetry, Artist’s Workshop, Ceramics, Backyard Birding, Young Naturalist Nature Games, Viva Mexico, Masks and Memory Boxes, Aye, Aye Mate, Large and in Charge, Clay Days, Dance Performance, Intermediate Aikido, Belly Dancing, Darkroom,  Legos and K’nex,

 

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Subpages (1): Personal Education Plans