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Classrooms

The Green Isle Community School (GICS) Curriculum:

  • Incorporates research-based, best teaching practices
  • Aligns with Minnesota Academic Standards
  • Provides interdisciplinary curriculum that integrates core curriculum studies, project-based learning, technology, and community-based service learning opportunities
  • Provides subject-specific instruction based on student needs
  • Promotes mutually-respectful and peace-filled relationships among stakeholders
  • Fosters strong character development in students
  • Cultivates global sensitivity through an international partnership


Interdisciplinary Curricula
Subject-specific, Commercial Programs
Literacy Curriculum
Mathematics Curriculum
Music, Physical Education, and Art Curricula
Homeroom Curricula
Global Sensitivity Activities


Research regarding project-based learning, multiage grouping, service learning:

Project-based learning is a dynamic approach to instruction that provides students with a degree of choice and ownership, enhancing the likelihood that they will maintain a positive attitude toward the understandings they are developing. Schools that make extensive use of project-based learning are bringing opportunities for constructivist learning experiences to their students. Constructivism is a widely supported educational theory that rests on the idea that students create their own knowledge in the context of their own experiences (Fosnot, 1996). Project-based learning, and the constructivist theory upon which it is based, focuses on students being actively engaged in “doing,” rather than passively engaged in “receiving” knowledge. Research on improving students’ higher-order cognitive skills emphasizes the need for students to engage in problem-solving tasks and the need for specific instruction on how to attack and solve problems (Moursund, 1995; Perkins, 1992). Project-based learning experiences provide students with opportunities to plan their approaches to problem-solving, thus promoting the development of higher-order thinking skills.

The multiage grouping philosophy recognizes that students learn better when they have role models they can turn to for assistance, and when they are able to practice their skills by demonstrating to others. The multiage class in one where differences are accepted and nurturing is valued and encouraged. Research suggests that students benefit in many ways from experiences in multiage classrooms (Miller, 1990). Some argue that, academically, children usually do better in multiage classrooms than in traditional classrooms (Anderson and Pavan, 1993). Children in multiage classrooms often have a greater sense of belonging (Sherman, 1984) and possess more positive social relationships. Miller (1989) reviewed twenty-one studies of multigrade classes. In terms of academic achievement, there were no significant differences between single-grade and multigrade classes, but in terms of emotional factors, results favored the multigrade classes. Students in multigrade classes had more positive attitudes toward school and toward themselves, and more positive social relationships.

Research on service learning shows that it can have multiple positive outcomes for participating students. Schools with the best results have linked service learning to standards and have allowed students opportunities to reflect, talk, and write about their service experiences. A great deal of research has been conducted regarding the impact of service learning. Students who engage in service learning are more likely to increase their sense of self-esteem and self-efficacy (Shaffer, 1993). Stephens (1995) shares that students who engage in service learning show increases over time in their awareness of cultural differences and attitudes toward helping others. Follman (1997) reports that students who engage in service learning are less likely to be referred to the office for disciplinary measures. Community members who participate in service learning as partners with the school see youth as valued resources and positive contributors to the community (Billig and Conrad, 1997).

Interdisciplinary Curricula
Interdisciplinary study in social studies, science, health, and most of GICS’s literacy instruction is theme-based, provides opportunities for meaningful project-based learning, embeds technology, and fulfills Minnesota’s new Academic Standards. A three-year rotating curriculum provides the framework for this interdisciplinary coursework and ensures that every student experiences age-appropriate and sequential instruction across the curriculum throughout the student’s tenure at GICS. This integrated course of study supports student achievement by providing connections among academic subject areas.

Subject-specific, Commercial Programs
Students will receive math and beginning reading instruction in grade level groupings. Commercial programs will serve as the foundation for reading, math, and science instruction. Licensed staff will review and select each of these packaged programs based on the perceived quality of the materials, the comprehensive nature of each program’s prescribed curriculum, the appropriateness to the school’s educational goals, and the “fit” with the Minnesota Academic Standards. A reading series with a strong foundation in children's literature, similar to the one published by Scott Foresman, will provide a scope and sequence of instruction that is aligned at all levels. Foss Science, or a similarly developed commercial program, will incorporate a hands-on, discovery approach to science instruction, and a highly rigorous, hands-on program such as Everyday Math will be selected for mathematics instruction.

Literacy Curriculum
Reading instruction includes phonics and literature, sight word recognition, and writing-to-read methodologies. Emergent readers will receive reading instruction utilizing a blend of decoding strategies that foster fluency and comprehension in all genres. As students become more capable readers, reading instruction will be delivered in multiage settings and focus on increasingly complex comprehension skills and word etiology. Flexible groupings throughout the grade levels will provide opportunities for adaptations and modifications to meet individual learning needs.

Throughout the grades, literature selections, audiovisual media, and internet resources will enrich the commercial reading program. These enhancements, along with a well-designed plan for reading instruction, will result in a comprehensive literacy program. In addition, the literacy program supports social studies, science, and health thematic units. Students will hone their writing skills during extensive, authentic daily writing experiences. The literacy program will also provide opportunities for listening, viewing, and speaking skill development.

Mathematics Curriculum
Because of the sequential nature of mathematics instruction, it will be taught in grade level groupings. The highly rigorous program that is selected will utilize manipulatives for concrete concept development, provide frequent authentic problem-solving activities in which students apply skills, and set forth a challenging approach to math instruction. A program approved by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) will be adopted.

Music, Physical Education, and Art Curricula
Music, Physical Education, and art instruction will provide a purposeful balance of academic, physical, and cultural learning. Each of these areas of instruction will occur in multiage settings with modified curricula designed for multiage delivery. Depending upon the number of students that enroll at GICS, Physical Education and Music instruction will occur two to three times per week, and weekly art instruction will be delivered by classroom teachers in core rooms.

Homeroom Curricula
Social, emotional, and behavioral components of a school’s program are rarely included as part of an academic curriculum, yet GICS planners believe the creation of a positive and respectful school climate in which there is a minimum of distracting behaviors is crucial to increased student achievement and to the development of a responsible citizenry. To that end, care will be taken to ensure students engage in meaningful community service projects, character education instruction, and significant relationship-building experiences.

Homeroom learning activities will be designed to allow opportunities to practice affective outcomes and students and staff will practice these behaviors each and every day. High behavior expectations, coupled with frequent and intentional interactions with elders from the Green Isle area, will generate a “kinder, gentler” school community. Furthermore, the Behavior Plan that will be developed with input from parents, students, and staff will serve as a learning tool to teach appropriate behaviors rather than to prescribe punitive consequences.

Global Sensitivity Activities
Since Green Isle, Minnesota, has a strong Irish heritage and is the only Green Isle in the United States, GICS will establish a partnership with a school in Green Isle, Ireland (or another Irish school). Other efforts to encourage a peace-filled, globally sensitive student body will include activities related to social justice issues, intentional civic projects, and cultural studies of nations of the world. The student body will collaborate to earn designation as an International Peace Site and strive as a school to live up to the intent of that honor.

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