As a public school, we aim to meet the student achievement objectives of NCLB and as specified through the learning standards, curriculum frameworks and common assessments of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Additionally, our educational outcomes for GLCPS students extend beyond standardized tests to include demonstration of academic excellence and mastery of essential skills. We strive to:
- prepare young people for a global, multi-cultural, and technology-rich society and economy
- incorporate teaching methods that support the individual learning needs of each student
- create a school culture that promotes the personal qualities of initiative, responsibility, and community connectedness
- establish a shared-leadership administration model that is consensus-driven and incorporates input from all levels of the school system
The educational philosophy of GLCPS is that given a challenging and supportive educational environment, all students will achieve at high levels. We have designed an innovative and demanding curriculum for grades 5-12 that also allows teachers to meet the individual learning needs of each student. Specifically, we follow an integrated curriculum framework composed of three elements:
1. Standards-based core content areas: our approach ensures that our students reach proficiency as defined by the requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) initiative and as specified through the learning standards, curriculum frameworks and common assessments of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks (now incorporating the Common Core State Standards). To this end, academic excellence is achieved when a student demonstrates proficiency in core subject areas of mathematics, science and humanities.
2. Essential skills development: at GLCPS, we focus on four key essential skills: technology literacy, public speaking, global citizenship, and arts exploration, all of which are incorporated into our curriculum and instruction.
3. Student-centered instructional strategies using proven pedagogies such as Teaching for Understanding, Differentiated Instruction, and Project-based Learning as described below:
Teaching for Understanding (TU) is an approach that enables students to make meaning of knowledge and information in a given subject area or topic. Classroom learning is organized around investigative topics which students are asked to explore individually or in teams. For example, in the area of global citizenship, an investigative topic might be a comparative study of the effectiveness of ocean conservation policies in different parts of the world. The process of TU helps students to better internalize knowledge and know how to apply it in different settings. It asserts that true learning takes place anywhere, not just in the classroom, and encourages community-based teaching and learning experiences, such as applied research activities; internships with local businesses; and education-related travel.
Differentiated Instruction (DI) is a general term for instruction that is customized to meet the learning needs of each student in a classroom. DI is a response to recent educational research that documents that all students have the capacity to learn at high levels, but that each student learns in different ways, depending on factors such as physiological status, cultural background, gender, and aptitude and intelligence. At GLCPS, some examples of DI include the incorporation of: Visible Thinking; Artful Thinking; multi-modal approaches in the classroom; Multiple Intelligences strategies, and individuals students support plans (ISSPs).
Project-based Learning is a hands-on, integrated curriculum approach, in which students have an opportunity to develop their own projects. The goal is to help students formulate and answer meaningful questions using the principles of investigation, while drawing on knowledge across subject areas. In this environment, teachers facilitate the learning process, while students work on constructing their own knowledge.
Other key elements
Presentations of Learning: Through our Presentations of Learning (POL) component, students have the opportunity to share their learning experiences publicly. Specifically, students demonstrate and provide evidence of learning to a panel of student peers, staff, parents, and business and community members. Evidence of mastery can include performance tasks in a specific content area, projects, observations, work samples, action plans, design solutions, letters of recommendation, and self-assessments.
Technology resources: Technology is integral to the GLCPS classroom where students construct knowledge, think critically, and propose solutions to real world problems that they will face in the 21st century. GLCPS intends to be a leader in the integration of technology into the classroom and curriculum. Our vision is that teachers and students will use technology to demonstrate higher order thinking skills and creative problem solving. The ability to quickly organize and evaluate information gives lifelong learners a broader understanding of the world and their role in it.
Arts exploration: We believe it is essential that students have access to arts in their curriculum and/or extra-curriculum experience. GLCPS offers a combination of theater, dance, martial arts, visual arts, and music. Through these experiences students develop their critical and creative thinking skills, and enhance their understanding of world cultures and history.
Global and community experiences: We strive to provide our students with meaningful experiences that develop awareness of and appreciation for local and global cultures and organizations. From field studies to formal high school internships, students experience their local environment and engage in career awareness and planning. Through study, research and online communications, students also experience world cultures, organizations and economies. Commonalities (e.g., the importance of ocean research) as well as differences (e.g. political philosophies) are explored, providing students with a deeper understanding of the world. We continue to ascribe to the seven global themes as outlined in our charter. These themes, which are listed below, are embedded in our curriculum and instructional approaches.
The Seven Global Themes
1. The global community is made up of dynamic countries and regions that are shaped by environmental and human factors.
2. Language, art, music, belief systems, and other cultural elements facilitate global understanding or cause misunderstanding.
3. Interactions among groups, societies, and nations can lead to conflict, or cooperation, within and among nations.
4. Technological innovations have far-reaching effects on the global community.
5. The causes, consequences, and possible solutions to persistent, contemporary and emerging global issues impact the entire global community.
6. Universal human rights are the foundation of a global society.
7. Formal alliances and organizations among and between groups and nations can exert an important influence on societies.
Additionally, we believe that a positive school climate is fundamental to helping students realize their full potential and for preparing them to navigate the complexities of a global society. Integrity, honesty, trust and respect are our basic moral tenets in all matters at GLCPS. We strive to make our school a place where everyone feels safe to try their hardest, and where failure and mistakes are a natural part of the learning process – for staff as well as for students. Respect for ourselves and respect for others is a central ingredient in fostering a safe and intellectually challenging school environment. Finally, our school management fosters a "shared responsibility" approach. Key decision-making is typically a collective process involving teachers, staff and administrators; input from students, parents and community members is also solicited regularly. Our goal is to create a learning community where:
- learning is connected to the real world;
- students are known well by staff;
- students have an opportunity to direct their own learning;
- teachers engage students in their own learning plans; and
- parents play an active role in the school and their children’s education.