We use Rhode Island’s Common Core Standards and Grade-Span Expectations, as well as the framework of Developmental Designs, as the basis for our work. Each year, students take three to four core courses, each involving some integration across academic disciplines—mathematics, integrated sciences, humanities, and social studies. All courses focus on student-centered, inquiry-based learning in which students gain knowledge, ask questions, and find answers for themselves. In addition, students are offered a variety of electives, including visual and performing arts, Spanish, college readiness, and math and literacy supports. All students take physical education/health every year.
The humanities courses in grades 9 and 10 integrate the English language arts standards and the Civics and Government standards. In grade 11, humanities integrates English language arts and U.S. history standards. Courses emphasize reading, writing, listening, and speaking, with a focus on issues of social justice and advocacy.
Sample Humanities Unit: Students choose a local social justice issue to research and then develop a written plan for improving their community by addressing that issue.
In integrated sciences, students focus on learning to think like scientists. Through activities that teach critical science content, students learn the skills of developing questions and hypotheses as well as researching, evaluating, and communicating their findings. Students take three core science classes that focus on biology, chemistry, and physics. Science electives and clubs are also part of our curriculum.
Sample Integrated Sciences Unit: Students create and observe an earth jar using mud, sand, pond water, and living organisms. They design and conduct experiments to further their understanding of ecology.
At PCS we believe that students should be exposed to multiple methods of math instruction and should learn number sense, problem-solving, and mathematical thinking as well as specific math skills. To this end, our curriculum includes multiple instructional formats, including problem-solving, direct instruction, and skill practice.
We work hard to meet the needs of different learners within each math class by using pretests to form flexible groups working at different levels and by including more simplified and more complex alternatives within each lesson. We offer algebra 1, geometry, algebra 2, pre-calculus, calculus, and advanced mathematics electives.
Sample Math Unit: Students make connections between two-dimensional drawings and three-dimensional shapes by constructing scaled models of shipping containers and cargo vessels out of cardboard, wood, and other materials.
Students have a choice of electives each year that include Spanish, visual and performing arts, college readiness, and math and literacy supports, among others.