As mandated by the NH Department of Education, the Common Core guides the curriculum at Polaris Charter School. However this is delivered in varied ways. Students at Polaris Charter School spend a specified time each day in Skills Exploration and Assessment. Within this time period, students have the opportunity to choose from a range of inter-disciplinary activities, such as learning centers, games, print and material resources, and inquiry-based, teacher-facilitated lessons. Grouping remains flexible, allowing students to participate in some independent work, peer tutoring/ peer editing, and in varied small group configurations.
Children work at their own academic level on what they are studying – thus taking away the need to be held back once a task has been mastered or pushed ahead before a skill has been truly learned.
A large portion of the school day is also devoted to Project Based Learning. Polaris teachers guide and support student choice and time management. Students are given instruction in the skills of collaboration, research, and presentation. To ensure success, each student develops a Project Contract to record the learning objective(s), resources and strategies, completion date, project or evidence, and evaluation method. Throughout the task, the teacher monitors each student’s progress and is available to help if a student gets stuck, or becomes confused. As students become more comfortable with the process, they gain independence, confidence, and critical thinking skills as they assume greater responsibility for their own project-based learning.