Seven Hills Charter Public School Curriculum Overview
Seven Hills Charter Public School offers a challenging, innovative and flexible curriculum that provides teachers and students with a program of distinction. We are committed to providing all students with an educational experience that helps them grow not only in knowledge and skill, but also in character. We select our curriculum based on its ability to accurately reflect and appeal to our diverse population. Teachers regularly work with the administrative team to examine programs in order identify stereotypes or biases and to ensure that programs are respectful of differences in race, color, gender, gender identity, sex, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. We are proud of the way our school, staff and programs prepare our children for success as students, workers and citizens.
Seven Hills strives to help all students reach high levels of achievement and self-satisfaction by exposing them to a variety of instructional strategies designed to support the wide range of learning paces and styles present in every classroom. We focus on fostering individual growth of students by identifying and nurturing their talents, setting goals and monitoring progress toward achieving those goals. We constantly assess student learning and refine our programs to enhance opportunities for success. Our three-tiered curriculum model (RTI) allows all students to access the skills and concepts outlined in the Common Core Standards. Our core curriculum (Tier 1) consists of solid programming in all of the content areas. In addition, all students access supplemental programs (Tier 2) that are designed to target individual areas of strength and weaknesses. Students needing more intensive interventions may access a full range of services through special education and other individualized programming (Tier 3).
Technology plays a critical role in both instruction and assessment at Seven Hills. Lessons are designed to take advantage of the many tools we have available, including wireless laptops, Smartboards, Easyteach and Quizdom. Students regularly access online resources and curriculum supports and participate in computer based testing and instruction. In addition, assignments are designed to encourage students and staff to use technology to communicate with each other, prepare presentations, organize and interpret data and much more. Having the skills to “be connected” is critical to success in the twenty first century.
In order to account for the full range of knowledge and skills that students will acquire, the curriculum is described according to commonly accepted divisions. In practice teachers frequently integrate the subject areas. Integrated experiences capitalize on students’ strong need to make connections and help them better understand the important ideas encountered throughout the academies.
SHCPS’s mathematics curriculum requires 60 minutes of daily math instruction, and an additional 30 minutes of targeted tutorial or enrichment opportunities. Our math program prepares children to solve problems flexibly, enables them to carry out tasks encountered in everyday life, fosters number and spatial sense, develops positive attitudes toward mathematics, and stimulates mathematical thinking. To achieve these goals, the curriculum stresses not only computation but also the full range of mathematics including data collection and analysis, probability and statistics, geometry, and algebra. The required core instructional programs are Singapore Math (K-5) and Prentice Hall (6-8). Supplementary programming is available through the use of various enrichment materials, Everyday Math, Study Island ,RM Math and the University of Michigan’s Classwide Peer Tutoring (CWPT) model.
In our Early Learning Academy and Primary Academy students learn math facts and how to compute with speed and accuracy. They also learn to apply addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to real-world problems and situations. Through hands-on activities with manipulatives and projects, students apply and test their mathematical ideas and understandings. They work in pairs and in groups to make mathematical discoveries, develop mental math skills, explore mathematical relationships, and strengthen their thinking. This introduction helps ensure that they go through life confident in mathematics and capable of applying it to their daily lives. In addition to the curriculum based assessments our student’s progress is tracked by our benchmarking and progress monitoring system using the Test of Early Numeracy (only ELA students) and Customized Study Island Benchmark Tests are given a minimum of three times a year (more often for individual progress monitoring) in order to set goals and to guide the decision making process of student programming for the tutorial / enrichment block.
In Elementary Academy, the mathematics curriculum continues to balance concept instruction with meaningful application. Students apply their more advanced mathematical tools and techniques to a rich variety of cross-curricular projects and activities. They explore concepts such as decimals and percent; mean, median, and mode; ratio and proportion; and functions. They participate in wide-ranging discussions about math, engage in a variety of cooperative-learning projects, explore simulations, and make increasingly more sophisticated mathematical observations. Calculators and computers play important roles in both the Primary and Elementary academies because they greatly expand the range of math problems and calculations that students can perform. Of course, students still use pencil and paper to complete some algorithms, but the math program emphasizes choosing from a range of problem-solving methods and tools, including mental arithmetic. Additionally, we often ask students to explain why their calculated or computed answers are reasonable, thereby calling on their understanding of operations and strengthening their ability to judge the validity of answers. In the Elementary Academy, Customized Study Island Benchmark Tests, are given a minimum of three times a year (more often for individual progress monitoring) in order to set goals and to guide the decision making process of student programming for the tutorial / enrichment block.
Three themes form the core of the mathematics curriculum at the Junior Academy level: applied arithmetic, pre-algebra, and pre-geometry. These themes are fully integrated into the Academy’s programs, Prentice Hall Mathematics Courses 1, 2, and 3. Concepts and ideas are consistently taught and elaborated upon through a spiral curriculum approach that takes students beyond rote learning to true mathematical understanding. In Junior Academy, students move toward a higher level of abstraction, developing their understanding of variables, generalizations, and informal proofs. By the end of their Junior Academy experience, students have learned to apply their arithmetic skills in a variety of real-world situations, to delve into problems involving all sorts of numbers, to think through different wordings and problem presentations, and to confront new contexts with confidence and understanding. They have also received the background in algebra and geometry necessary for more advanced work that lies ahead of them in their academic careers. Students who are able to move through the Junior Academy mathematics curriculum in only two years will be provided, in eighth grade, with Prentice Hall Algebra, using program materials and its tools and also students’ work to investigate the mathematics inherent in real-world situations. High-interest projects and investigations, conducted individually or in cooperative teams, help students learn that by drawing on the ideas, tools, and techniques of mathematics, they can strengthen their thinking, communicate with greater precision, make important connections across the curriculum, and find solutions to perplexing questions and challenging problems. The integration of the Math and Science core classes with strengthen these connections and provide opportunities for the expansion and compression of the curriculum. Junior Academy teachers also use Customized Study Island Benchmark Tests, that are administered a minimum of three times a year (more often for individual progress monitoring) to inform programming and offer regular feedback on student progress.
Reading and English Language Arts
All Seven Hills students participate in a minimum of 90 minutes a day of English Language Arts instruction, with an opportunity for an additional 30 minutes of targeted tutorial or enrichment. SHCPS’s reading programs emphasize a balanced approach to literacy instruction. We foster high levels of literacy in the areas of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing.
In our Early Learning, Primary and Elementary Academies our goal is to have every child reading on or above grade level by third grade. To meet this ambitious but essential goal, we not only utilize Scott Foresman’s integrated literature program Reading Street, but incorporate strategies to increase comprehension. The program is supplemented by a variety of intervention programs focused on phonics, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary and phonemic awareness.
The ability to read fluently and comprehend opens up vast new worlds for adolescent learners. Junior Academy reading is designed to help all students achieve the fluency required to explore these new worlds. The program offers students a rich variety of young adult novels and literature anthologies such as, Prentice Hall’s Choices in Literature, that present new stories, new experiences, and complex worlds to adolescent readers. By combining the best in young adult novels with classic and contemporary poems, essays, biographies, memoirs, journalism, and short fiction, Junior Academy language arts not only provides students with a solid foundation in the power and value of the written word, but also builds a strong understanding of the structure of the English language that contributes to their fluency as readers, thinkers, and writers.
All academies are committed to the writing process and the writing workshop approach to writing instruction. The goal of writing workshop is to develop proficiency while fostering an enthusiasm for writing as a form of communication, self-expression, and personal reflection. The writing process replicates the general stages through which all writers must successfully advance a piece of writing: pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing and proofreading, publication. Topic selection, idea development, and organization are emphasized in the early stages of the process; word choice, spelling, punctuation, grammar, and other writing conventions are emphasized in later stages. Writing workshop allows teachers to tailor whole-class instruction to common needs in brief and purposeful mini-lessons and to provide individual instruction and support on a regular basis during student writing and conferencing time. Mini-lessons are also used to introduce new writing genre, to focus on narrative and expository elements, rules of grammar and punctuation, etc. Writing workshop provides administrative supports through maintenance of student writing folders, which show development in writing process techniques. The writing workshop also encourages the development of peer editing skills, giving students the guidance and opportunity to be critical readers and supportive editors of each other’s work. To promote self and peer editing, students are taught to use appropriate tools, such as dictionaries and thesauruses. Most importantly, writing workshop gives students ownership of their writing, allowing them to select topics and forms that engage their interest and challenge their skills. Teachers use student folders to monitor the responsibility of student choices, the variety of genre completed, and their overall progress in completing work. Students also complete regular writing-on-demand assignments.
At all levels, data is utilized to make determinations for supplementary and enrichment programming. Students in all grades participate in AIMS Web Oral Reading Fluency, Accuracy and Comprehension testing a minimum of three times a year, along with the Customized Study Island Benchmark Tests. Additional probes are used for survey level assessments and regular progress monitoring and more intensive assessments are utilized on an as needed basis. Supplementary curricula include Read Naturally, Lexia Learning, Fluent Reading Trainer, (technology based supports), Project Read, Language!, Rev It Up, Flocabulary, Rewards, and the Elements of Reading Fluency and Vocabulary Kits.
SHCPS believes big ideas should shape research, projects, discussions, and other aspects of student investigation in the social sciences. Deep understanding, the product of varied instructional presentations and full student engagement, results in learning that endures beyond the Friday quiz and the quarterly exam.
The goal of the social science curriculum is to awaken in the minds and imaginations of children an understanding of and appreciation for the subject of history and its related disciplines. To accomplish this goal, we have designed a learning environment that involves children as active learners. Instruction is project-based and features meaningful activities that apply key process skills to investigations of important content. Students work individually and in cooperative-learning groups on projects that are often cross-curricular. A multicultural perspective and respect for diversity pervade the curriculum, which is standards-based and uses authentic assessment to evaluate student performance and guide instruction. In addition to utilizing popular literature and primary source documents, students will take part in a project-based, integrated curriculum that applies the theories of Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences. Students have the opportunity to learn and exhibit their competencies in a variety of ways. The spiraled curriculum is founded on the belief that all students can learn if a teacher shows them how to think and discover knowledge for themselves. In addition, students are guided through progressively more difficult concepts through a process of step-by-step discovery.
In Early Learning and Primary Academy, students encounter a wide variety of interesting people, places, cultures, and ideas through the themes, “My Family, My Community, and My World.” They have made a difference, and by exploring their own family histories, they learn to use maps and globes to identify places and to understand the impact of place on how people live. They are introduced to the institutions and symbols of American political processes and culture. Additionally, they grasp basic economic concepts in the context of learning about how people lived in the past, how they live in the present, and how they are likely to live in the future.
The Elementary Academy social science curriculum takes advantage of history’s narrative attributes and is structured around the topics of the Vikings to the westward movement, U.S. civics, economy and government and U.S. and world geography. The balanced breadth and depth of the curriculum strengthens students’ cultural understanding, develops their analytic thinking skills, leads to an appreciation for the excitement of history, and helps them understand the concept of place that is central to the study of geography.
The Junior Academy curriculum is based on the Massachusetts State Framework focusing on the five themes of geography: region, location, movement, place and human environmental interaction. These themes are embedded across all topics explored in the Junior Academy social science classes. Students begin sixth grade using resources from History Alive, Message of Ancient Days, and Ancient World (World Explorer Series) to study topics ranging from early man to early civilizations and cultures of Sumar, Mesopotamia, Israel, Egypt, Asia, Greece, and Rome. In seventh grade, students expand upon their understanding of the five themes of geography as they apply them to world geography units guided by tools such as the Geography Tools and Concepts (World Explorer series), The Story of Money, World History, Across the Centuries, Jr. Scholastic magazine. In eighth grade, students delve into an in-depth exploration American History from the Revolutionary War period through the Civil War and Reconstruction. The learning process is supported by the following texts: The Story of America, History Alive, Adventure Tales America, and American Nation, as well as any supplemented resources that support an aligned curriculum with the Common Core Standards.
SHCPS offers students an engaging, challenging curriculum rooted in ambitious academic student standards, carefully selected core curricular materials, and a supportive pedagogy that encourages active student learning and meaningful project-based learning. We utilize a constructivist approach to teaching and learning science that promotes the development of critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.
At the Early Learning, Primary, and Elementary Academy levels, the science curriculum is interwoven throughout the curriculum. In addition to utilizing literature and experience-based programming, students acquire sound knowledge of the scientific method by participating in activities found in various thematic kits developed by Science through Inquiry (STC), Delta Science Modules (DSM) and Science Through Experimentation Processes (STEP). These programs help students learn to collect, organize and analyze data and develop research skills that can be applied throughout each unit of study. Each unit, selected to be aligned with the Massachusetts frameworks, draws from a variety of resources to integrate math and language arts skills into the scientific process.
The core program for teaching science in the Junior Academy is Glencoe / McGraw-Hill. Each level of SHCPS’s three-year Junior Academy science program contains units from life, earth, and the physical sciences. These spiral in complexity and difficulty from year to year. The program goals are to instill an appreciation of how science, technology, and society are interrelated, promote and understanding of important science concepts processes and ideas, to apply the use of higher order thinking skills, to improve problem solving abilities and skills, and to improve the ability to apply scientific principles. The program is designed around the Constructivist Learning Model.
Assessment is an interactive and on-going process between the teacher and the student, not a single event at the end of a given instructional sequence. A variety of assessment tasks and strategies that more accurately analyze the learning process of each student on a daily basis are provided in the curriculum. The process of embedded assessment allows the student and the teacher to have a more authentic measure of what the students know, value, and are able to do. For the teacher, this process helps determine the flow of the lessons. Students are encouraged to be responsible for their education, rather than accepting grades as an external consequence that is out of their control. Ongoing assessment helps students understand their progress, monitor their own growth, and develop specific skills.
Physical Fitness and Health
The road toward a lifetime of healthful habits begins in the Early Learning, Primary and Elementary academies. In the area of physical fitness, the emphasis at this level is on developing motor skills and aerobic capacity, targeted to individual levels and according to personal fitness plans. We aim to develop students’ skills in sports and games, but we take great care not to overemphasize competition. Rather, we believe that learning basic motor skills provides the competence that leads to confidence and enjoyment of physical activities for a lifetime.
During the crucial Junior Academy years, we guide students toward making wise choices as they negotiate the physical, social, and emotional changes associated with early adolescence. Through a varied program that stresses individualized fitness goals, we help all students understand the benefits of continuing the strenuous physical activity they enjoyed in earlier academies. In the Health program, we carefully link the health, science, and character and ethics curricula when dealing with issues that range from resolving personal conflicts to human reproduction.
The main reference book for physical education teachers is Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children, 11th & 12th Eds., written by Dr. Bob Pangrazi of Arizona State University and published by Allyn and Bacon. The text is consistent with our state standards for physical education, and includes essential sections on activities for developing basic skills, wellness and developing a healthy lifestyle and sport-specific skills and drills.
In conjunction with the physical education, science and character and ethics curricula, Seven Hills also offers regular instruction in healthful living, with a special focus on the needs of students of different ages. We have carefully chosen components of Health Wave curriculum that are age-appropriate and that support our ambitious standards for each academy. This program emphasizes personal and mental health, stress management and suicide prevention, nutrition and fitness, human growth and sexuality, family life, disease prevention and AIDS, safety and injury prevention, violence prevention, community and consumer health, alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
The Fine Arts
The Seven Hills Fine Arts curriculum offers an ambitious program of instruction in music, visual arts, drama, and dance. Visual and performing arts are taught by specialists, who devote equal attention to history, performance, appreciation, and practice. To reinforce classroom learning, the fine arts specialists often connect their lessons to the programs of studies in the core classes. Whether integrated with other subjects in the curriculum or taught on their own, the arts provide innovative ways to enhance learning and creativity. The teachers pull from a variety of resources to ensure that all students receive a well rounded experience. Among them are the Davis Publication entitled Adventures in Art, Art: A Global Pursuit, and Art: A Community Connection. In addition, teacher pull from Learning to Look and Create: the SPECTRA Program from Dale Seymour Publications and Silver Burdett Ginn’s The Music Connection.
In the Early Learning and Primary Academy, students begin formal studies in music through singing, playing simple instruments, and listening to a wide range of musical styles from many different cultures. They develop their art skills by using a variety of tools and materials to express ideas. They begin to recognize the basic elements of drama and have many opportunities to express their imaginations through dramatic play, puppetry, and storytelling. They are introduced to the elements of dance and learn to recognize those elements in the performances they view.
In the Elementary Academy, students create and perform a range of artistic works across the curriculum. They gain a wide understanding of various musical forms and styles, such as classical, jazz, blues, and rap and increase their knowledge of artistic principles, elements, and terminology and translate their observations into original artwork, often using multimedia and other audiovisual materials. They “do” and “view” drama and role-play a variety of characters from literature and history. And they increase their understanding and appreciation of creative movement as they explore traditional and contemporary dance forms.
The Junior Academy Fine Arts program continues offers a wide range of elective classes from which the students can choose. The offerings are designed to build upon the balanced, discipline-based and performance approach that students practiced in the earlier academies, including study of art history, criticism, aesthetics, and production. It is also closely integrated with the other subject areas in the Junior Academy curriculum to encourage cross-curricular projects that engage the whole academy. Students study the arts of diverse cultures and civilizations, making connections to their own lives and analyzing the contributions that societies made to the way people live today. They learn that the arts have always played an important, if not an essential, role in world history. Each student in this academy creates a time line, which serves as the glue that keeps the key events, people, and places in an organized and logical framework and provides an understanding of the big picture—how all people have the arts in common and all have a contribution to make.
The main goal of Seven Hills’ emphasis on the fine arts is to develop student literacy and competency in the understanding and creating of art, music, drama, and dance. Just as all students in a physical education program can learn to participate in sports and healthful exercise, all students in a fine arts program can learn to draw, play an instrument, perform a role, and dance a jig. These are skills that can and should be taught to all students, not just the “talented” few. In today’s rapidly changing world, technology and art are becoming increasingly intertwined. This connection has not only expanded the scope of our instruction at Seven Hills but it has also broadened student base to which the program appeals. Students now realize that there are many ways to produce art and tools that can help them find their own special style, be it through graphic design, animation or composing music, everyone can find an outlet for self expression and creativity.
A well-rounded education has to include more than a limited arts appreciation component. It has to develop a deeper understanding of the purpose, value, and aesthetics of the arts and teach students the fundamental skills of self-expression.
Seven Hills is proud to offer second language instruction in Spanish beginning in kindergarten. Students explore not only the written and spoken word, but also put their learning in contexts of geography, history and culture. Our goal is to educate children on the value of diversity and the benefits of being able to communicate in multiple circles. At all grade levels, students learn through oral and written exercises, musical experiences, cultural explorations and a variety of interactive activities that enhance vocabulary, fluency and accuracy.
At all levels, our World Language teachers have designed units of study focusing on basic language skills and vocabulary. They have created work packets to support activities utilizing music, games, puppets, artwork, storytelling and more. Elementary Academy students expand their learning through the use of Viva el Espanol! and the Junior Academy tops it off with Paso a Paso.
English Language Learning
Students who have an English Language Development (ELD) receive direct instruction in the idiosyncrasies of the English language. After evaluating each student’s needs, materials are selected to target specific goals. Among the resources used are Into English and specialized materials from Scholastic. Technology is regularly integrated into instruction through the use of interactive software and composition exercises. Our goal is for all students to be successful communicators in two languages by the time they graduate from Seven Hills.
Seven Hills is committed to providing quality, researched-based instruction to our English Language Learners. According to MA law, public school students who are not proficient in English must be placed in a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) program. By using the home language surveys that identify a primary home language is other than English (PHLOTE), observations, intake assessments, and recommendations of parents, teachers and other persons, the school identifies students whose dominant language may not be English. Those students are assessed in the areas of speaking, listening, reading and writing. If a student tests as “Limited English Proficient”, she/he is accepted into the program. Following the assessment, a letter is sent, in the preferred home language, to all parents of assessed students to notify them of the results and inform them of their child’s placement and service needs. Once the letter is signed by the parent and returned to the school, it is filed for future reference.
Should a parent choose to deny services, a parent may request a waiver. The waiver allows parents to voluntarily choose the academic program for their child(ren). In order for a parent to request a waiver for a student under age ten, the student must have participated in the program for thirty calendar days. Students over ten can be waived out of the program at any time. Should a parent sign a waiver to opt out of the ELD / SEI program, the school must use alternative means to meet the child’s needs.
Once a child is accepted in the ELL program, he /she will receive English Language Development (ELD) classes (as described above) based on the Massachusetts English Language Proficiency Benchmarks and Outcomes, and Sheltered English Immersion (SEI). Language development is designed to help the child to learn the English language rapidly so that he or she can be assimilated in the mainstream classroom and be able to do ordinary schoolwork. Sheltered instruction is designed to assist the child in assimilating content (math, science, history, etc.) using appropriate language acquisition strategies. Students receive direct language instruction through a Sheltered English Immersion program with teachers who have participated in staff development courses that focus on strategies and techniques for teaching English as a Second Language. All the instruction and materials in the SEI classroom are in English. English language learners, at their comprehension level, follow the rigorous and challenging grade level curriculum, utilizing instructional materials that have been adapted and modified to meet the students’ needs.
Students participate in the ELL program until they test in English fluency and literacy at a proficient level. A student is considered proficient when his/her mastery of English enables him/her to access the regular classroom curriculum. In accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act, identified students are assessed annually to determine their level of proficiency in the English language. The child is assessed in the fall and in the spring using more sophisticated tools as mandated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. These tools fall under the Massachusetts English Proficiency Assessment (MEPA). MEPA consists of two assessments:
- the MA English Proficiency Assessment-Reading and Writing (MEPA-R/W); and
- the MA English Language Assessment-Oral (MELA-O), which assesses proficiency in both Comprehension (Listening) and Production (Speaking).
The results of the administration of these state assessments, combined with input from parents, teachers and other school professionals, will assist the ELL faculty to make a determination for the termination of language services. They are also regularly reported to the MA Department of Education. Even after a student exits the program, their progress is monitored to determine whether or not she /he is successfully participating in the school experience.
Should you have additional questions regarding the Seven Hills’ ELL program, please contact our Student Support Manager at 508-799-7500.
Character and Ethics
Character and ethics are a school wide responsibility centered around SHCPS’s core values (wisdom, justice, courage, compassion, hope, respect, responsibility, and integrity.) Teachers are expected to integrate character education goals into their regular instruction—both in terms of behavioral expectations and content-related instruction.
Education in character and ethics is about the application of student understandings to their own behavior. The core values provide a common set of attributes that can frame a lesson on moral questions behind a character’s choices in a novel; the underlying principles behind a political idea, such as democracy or the creation of written laws; or the courage of individuals in challenging unjust systems. The core values also provide opportunities to explore the reasons behind particular school and class rules and to provide instruction and practice to help students successfully live up to these and other expectations. This goal of helping students apply values to their own behavior is the heart of the Seven Hills character education program.
The Seven Hills Code of Conduct is: Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Responsible. This code is used to establish consistent school-wide expectations. Classroom teachers work with students to define each of the expectations by completing representation charts to show what being kind, safe and responsible looks, sounds, and feels like. In addition, students learn about the code by participating in role-play’s and problem solving sessions using Success for All, FISH!, Responsive Classroom or Open Circle tools such as the Peace Path, Class Meetings or the Circle of Power and Respect.
Early Learning, Primary and Elementary Academy teachers use An Ethics Curriculum for Children, a literature-based instructional program developed by the Heartwood Institute, to present moving and thoughtful stories that engage students in ethical issues and provide a basis for discussion and other instructional activities. The importance of honesty, bravery, respect, and other moral values is at the heart of these potent stories by writers such as Katherine Patterson, Allen Say, Barbara Clooney, Patricia Polacco, John Steptoe, Eve Bunting, Demi, Tomie dePaola, and many other award-winning authors and illustrators of children’s literature. The stories are multicultural in scope, making the obvious point that honesty, hope, courage, respect, and justice are universal concerns, not sectarian or localized to particular communities, nations, or cultures. Students listen, discuss, and complete activities that help translate the stories’ lessons into an everyday context. Why is telling the truth sometimes hard? Why is it important?
Likewise, character and ethics instruction is embedded across all content areas in Junior Academy classes. Of course, particular academic areas sometimes lend themselves to this goal more obviously than others, such as the Touchstones component of the Language Arts/Speaking and Listening program; the Healthwave program in Fitness and Health; and the study of people and their behavior and motivations in history, literature, the arts, and current events. In addition, sportsmanship in physical education, respect and responsibility for oneself and others in health, and questions of fairness, justice, and other ethical concerns crop up regularly in math and science class.
All content areas feature a pedagogy that requires students to interact respectfully, with honesty, compassion, and personal integrity. Cooperative learning roles, peer conferencing, participating in group projects, participating as an audience member in a presentation or performance, and living up to one’s accepted responsibilities as a student create numerous opportunities for teachers to instruct, model, and monitor good character for students and for students to demonstrate these values in action.
Should students need a supplementary program in character education, opportunities are available in the form of guidance groups, peer Head of Schooling or mentoring programs. Strong Kids, a resilience curriculum out of The University of Oregon, is often used to help students build self-awareness and gain skills for interacting with others and solving problems.
Intensive programming is also available through the implementation of specialized behavior intervention plans or counseling.
Advisory and Guidance
Students participate in an advisory program that is delivered through “Morning Meeting” each day. Homeroom teachers are considered advisers for their homeroom students and are responsible for tracking attendance, setting and monitoring SLC goals, delivering the advisory curriculum and creating a safe environment for students to explore issues that are important to their well being and academic growth. The recommended delivery models are those outlined through Open Circle, the Responsive Classroom program for Morning Meetings or the Circle of Power and Respect. Teachers also regularly draw upon the resources provided in student agenda books, Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens, and the FISH! Philosophy by Charthouse Communications.
In addition, students participate in classroom-based lessons led by our guidance staff. These lessons range in topic from goal setting and action planning, career awareness, self esteem, appreciation of diversity, team-building, leadership, communication, conflict resolution, drug and alcohol awareness, healthy relationships, personal safety and more.
Technology as a Second Language
Through extensive use of technology students acquire the vocabulary, skills and knowledge of concepts imbedded in the use of technology to support their learning. From interacting with programs and assessments in key learning areas, they gain mastery and confidence in their use of technology. As they increase their use of technology, they begin to expand their understanding and appreciation for how technology can enhance their learning and, in many ways, how technology can help make them more independent researchers, data collectors, and writers. Students participate in classroom based lessons on keyboarding and word processing, use of Microsoft Office software programs, internet safety and much more. Junior Academy students may also elect to take classes on computer programming and repair, web site design or video production.
Although we regularly strive to integrate instruction across the content areas, there are a few times a year that we take that integration to a whole new level. School-wide Intensives are dynamic units of study in which students work collaboratively to apply skills learned in all content areas to focus on a specific theme or to solve a specialized problem. During these times, the school schedule, class lists and curricula are all adjusted to allow every child to become completely immersed in the experience. Often classrooms become courtrooms, engineering studios, construction sites, press boxes, crime labs, or whatever it takes to get the job done! One must see it to believe it!
Seven Hills Enrichment Learning Laboratory (SHELL)
Seven Hills is committed to nurturing students’ interests and talents and rewarding high achievement. For this reason, we encourage students to apply to our SHELL program. Participants are assigned mentors who support independent study projects or school apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are designed based on expressed student interests or a desire to refine a specific skill set. Examples of student apprenticeships include: editing the literary magazine, working with Lego-robotics, serving as a peer mediator, contributing to the Students Against Violence in Education program, writing for the school newspaper, and composing musical scores. The program is continually evolving as new students enter and help shape their individual experiences.
Seven Hills offers a multitude of services for students with special needs. We are committed to providing all children a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. We are proud to serve our children in a highly engaging, inclusive environment. Classrooms are staffed with highly qualified teachers and assistants who are dedicated to supporting all learners. In addition, we have a talented team of special educators and clinicians who provide specialized instruction and work collaboratively with classroom teachers to better serve all students. Our occupational therapist, school psychologist and speech and language specialists provide excellent services to students and serve as resources to our staff and families. The program is managed by our Student Support Manager, who can be reached via phone at 508-799-7500.
Childfind: A student is eligible for special education services if there is presence of a disability, lack of effective progress and the need for specialized instruction. If a child is suspected to have special needs, the pre-referral process may be initiated by contacting the Student Support Manager. Parents are involved at each step of the referral process. Special education is provided in accordance with state and federal laws.