Cluster One (Grades K-3)
The Cluster One program of the Sonoma Charter School provides settings for children ages 5 to 8 to accommodate a wide range of experiences, interests and ways of learning. An integrated curriculum involves active investigation, play, experiential and interactive exploration, respect for all of humankind, and reliance upon parents as partners. Documenting children’s progress through assessment and evaluation is integral to the facilitation of the child’s learning.
Fundamentally, our objective is to facilitate the development of the complete and whole child resulting in a literate, thinking, active, and compassionate participant of the global society. We consciously work to teach our students higher-order thinking skills: analysis, synthesis, and evaluation instead of mere memorization of factual material. We strive to encourage students to become engaged in and excited about their schoolwork, and to pursue additional paths of study in their areas of special interest.
Parents, friends and older students are encouraged to come to the classroom and listen to the children read, share special talents and interests (such as storytelling, puppetry, drama, environmental studies, cooking, sewing, computer literacy, weaving, etc.), help coordinate and drive on field trips, assist on the playground, substitute during teacher meetings, organize and coordinate classroom celebrations and special events, assist in the art program, and keep an ongoing communication with us in the assessment of their child. We are always open to hear about additional ways parents can contribute to the education of their children.
The following are guidelines in the organization of the curriculum:
- Arts are central to children’s learning
- Opportunities to read and write are ongoing and varied
- Mathematics is a way of thinking
- Scientific method is used throughout the curriculum
- History, geography and science are integrated
- Physical well being is part of total well being
This program encourages a developmentally appropriate curriculum for children in kindergarten through grade three. The curriculum is based on the belief that young children create knowledge from their experiences; therefore, both teacher-directed activities and child-originated activities constitute the curriculum, emphasizing exploration, clarification and reflection. The continuous building of community, respect and trust becomes the foundation for meaningful studies.
Focus upon a particular curriculum theme within the integrated format is determined by various means, including:
- The observation that children are all interested in something
- The belief that one child’s interest reflects many children’s interests
- The knowledge that work upon any particular theme captures children’s interest and meets their needs in a variety of ways
- Multiculturalism in the classroom stresses that understanding other cultures and other languages in the world is crucial to the inter-connectedness of humans; thus, encouraging self-esteem, respect for all life, and the experience of success in life
- The classroom environment must be a ‘prepared’ one, in order to make the program a success
- Active participation is essential; learning materials are concrete and relevant to children’s lives. Objects children can manipulate and experiment with such as blocks, cards, games, tapes, books, tools, computers, arts and crafts materials, and scientific equipment are enticing and readily accessible
- Multicultural images and materials are integrated throughout the environment
- Attention is given to an organization that allows for flexibility of whole class instruction, small group instruction, or individual study
Teachers continuously gauge the progress of each Cluster One student in a variety of ways, including formal and informal assessments, teacher observations and individual student portfolios. Students receive trimester progress reports (1 parent-teacher conference and 2 written) with report cards based on academic progress as well as social and emotional skill acquisition.