Curriculum and Culture
PCA Curriculum and Instruction
The Georgia Standards for Excellence (GSE) are the focus of Pataula Charter Academy’s curriculum. The rationale for this is: 1) As a Georgia public school PCA is required to participate in all state mandated testing; 2) State mandated tests are aligned to the state standards. However, teachers are encouraged to dig deeper into the content and skills required by GSE, as many standards only skim the surface of topics and do not give students a full understanding of the topics. We seek to make “experts” of the standards, especially in our Expeditions.
PCA uses a hands-on, student-centered approach to learning. We recognize that the nature of education does require that some concepts and skills be taught through direct-instruction, but most of those same concepts and skills can be practiced and applied through hands-on, authentic projects. Therefore, PCA uses a combination of direct instruction and project-based learning. Teachers integrate all areas of the curriculum as much as possible to make connections, which deepens learning. Due to our approach, PCA uses very few textbooks.
Our school focuses on teaching the whole child. We offer special programs and opportunities to help each student experience success in a variety of activities. Our school also offers special needs programs such as gifted, remedial education, and special education classes. The instructional program provides opportunities for the teacher, the parent, and the child to cooperatively share the responsibility for academic growth.
PCA’s Instructional Model:
- Is based on the Constructivist Theory
- Is student-centered
- Is project-based, Inquiry-based, and hands-on
- Integrates all subjects together to make connections
- Makes learning authentic and meaningful
- Promotes curiosity and critical thinking
- Engages students in meaningful investigations
- Promotes collaboration and teamwork
Standards-Based Assessments and Reporting
The purpose of standards-based assessments and reporting is to provide more detailed feedback to parents regarding the progress of their children. This type of assessing and reporting will allow parents to understand more clearly and more specifically what is expected of the students and in which areas the child is meeting or needs additional help.
Letter or number grading systems offer a general picture of how individual students are performing in a particular subject. For example, a student may receive a 75 or a “C” for the nine weeks in Math. This grade is usually an average of all grades taken within the nine weeks. Since many skills may have been covered in that time period, a parent does not know what particular skills have been mastered or not. With standards-based reporting, all of the key learning targets or skills are listed with an indicator of whether the student has mastered that learning target or not. We also give a percentage "grade" to show the percentage of the learning targets the student has met. This gives parents a much clearer and more specific idea of their child’s strengths and weaknesses.
We believe that learning cannot occur in a safe and nurturing environment. Therefore, we have established many practices to ensure we have a positive school culture. If you have ever spent much time around a child that attends PCA, you have likely heard them talk about “The PCA Way”. The PCA Way embodies all of the traits we teach our students to help them become successful in school and beyond. Here are a few ways we do that:
- Upholding a Code of Conduct with clear, consistent, high expectations
- Daily “Crew” meetings for relationship and team building
- Explicitly teaching traits of positive, successful people through our “Design Principles”
- Student Goal Setting and Reflection on Habits of Work
- Celebrating Successes every chance we get, mainly through school-wide “Community Circles”
- Building cooperation and collaboration skills through project-based investigations
- Parental Engagement
- Community Involvement
- Service Projects