Curriculum

 

Math

Mathematics will be taught the “old school” way. Recently math education has been challenging for the majority of students. Problems are given and kids are required to come up with a variety of odd ways of solving them. Although this is a great method for the advanced student, the majority of students come away lost and confused. There confidence drops and basic math functions are not understood. At Roots, the students will be taught directly then given multiple opportunities to practice what they have learned. They will have a clear understanding of the math concepts before progressing. The books we will use are called Oregon Focus. There are nine books, they cover all of the National Standards for grades 6-8 as well as some of Algebra 1 curriculum. The Oregon Focus curriculum is ideal because it demonstrates how to do a problem, offers multiple opportunities for practice, and gives real-world situations to apply what has been learned.

Middle school math is the most important math to master. It is based on the kind of math you use every day like tipping, data analysis, probability, percent discounts and markups, basic geometry and algebra. It is essential for students to get the teaching they need to master this curriculum and gain the confidence to move forward to higher level courses.


Language Arts

At Roots Academy, the common core standards for the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade are covered non sequentially over three years. Developing creative and confident writers is our main goal. Your student should enter ninth grade able to write a strong five-paragraph essay, and build upon his or her writing skills in high school. Our students, no matter their grade level, have multiple opportunities to practice expository, persuasive, narrative, and creative modes of writing each year. We believe students should be strong technical writers and have fun writing creatively at the middle school level. All forms of writing are graded using the Oregon Department of Education writing rubric, to ensure students are meeting or exceeding state standards.

By reading, students become better writers. Roots Academy exposes students to a variety of different texts from including authors like Homer, William Shakespeare, Langston Hughes, Madeleine L’Engle, and Gary Schmidt. We also focus on informational texts like newspaper articles and textbooks. Our students learn how to analyze what they read and support their ideas with textual evidence. Once a month students also choose a book from provided reading lists to expose them to different genres. Students share and discuss their ideas through public speaking opportunities and Socratic seminars.

At the beginning of each school year, reading and writing skills are evaluated by the teachers. Each student together with his or her teacher to develop a reading plan and writing goals for the school year. Every student, depending on their grade level and ability, is working on different skills even if they are all writing about the same topic. Some students may be trying to improve writing transition sentences while another is working on punctuation. Periodically, the teacher holds writing conferences with the students to evaluate progress. Advanced writers are pushed in their writing and encouraged to participate in writing challenges or contests provided by the teacher. All students master writing skills at a different pace, but the growth from their first year at Roots to their last year at Roots in tremendous.


Technology

Technology is our present and future and is an integral part of our curriculum at Roots Academy.  All students are required to have an iPad. The iPad is used in all subjects for research, video production, books, collaboration with peers, writing and computer skills. With all of the educational apps available, the computer helps engage the students while strengthening their computer skills.

In addition to the everyday use of technology with the iPads, we participate in robotics competitions and we have purchased numerous VexIQ robotic kits. The students form teams, build robots and write code to get their robot to perform predesignated tasks. Roots also has a 3D printer that will be incorporated into various lesson plans across differing subjects. 


Science

The National Standards determine the topics of our Science units.  Science is taught in a practical hands-on way through projects, experiments, field trips, iPad research, and thematic units.  Experts and professionals from the community are also brought in to bring the content to life and make it more meaningful to the students.


Electives

All student participate in all electives at Roots Academy. The following electives will be covered over the three years your child is at Roots. They often correspond to the science and history themes of each year.

Cooking is taught from a scientific perspective. Over three years we learn about 50 basic cooking concepts and the science behind them. We make food in class and student often take home the recipes to create for their families.

Art includes basic drawing and art history. We generally study an artist that corresponds to the time in history we are studying. After studying their work we try to create a piece inspired by the artist. This gives the students some background into art as well as an opportunity to try different mediums. 

Spanish is introduced to give students an advantage before entering high school language class. We chose Spanish because it is the most practical for Oregon residents. Even if Spanish is not the language your child continues to study they will have an understanding of the basics of learning a foreign language.

The yearbook is optional for the students. Each student has the opportunity to create their own personal yearbook. 

Video production is taught throughout the year in a variety of subjects. Student are often given the opportunity to present their own creations.

Economic is an important part of our curriculum. Every three years we do what we call the Mini City. The students create a city. I this city they elect a mayor, purchase land, create a business, pay rent and taxes, have natural disasters, and sell their wares to family and friends. This is a lot of fun and lets the kids get a glimpse of being a citizen and entrepreneur. 

Every three years we put on a theatrical production. This corresponds with our study of Shakespeare. It is magical to see students who probably would have never tried out for a play perform and develop an appreciation for theater.


Social Studies/History

Over the course of three years, students cover Ancient Civilizations, Geography, and United States history. The curriculum is taught in a way that makes the subject matter relevant to students’ lives today. Time is spent analyzing and evaluating how events of the past still affect the present and future. 

Much of social studies is project and field trip based, which allows students to apply what they are learning in class. During the Ancient Egypt unit, the students participate in an archaeological dig. The year students learn about the United States government, field trips to the Oregon state capitol and Washington D.C. are offered. 


Field Trips/Location Learning

Each year we go on a number of field trips.

Green Acres Farm Sanctuary is a monthly field trip. We assist the farm by doing whatever they need done. Some of our duties include shoveling manure, cleaning out chicken coops, feeding the animals, raking leaves, and socializing puppies. This is a great opportunity for the students to volunteer and learn a little about animals and farm living.

The Salem Ropes Course is another favorite. Each year, usually the first week of school, we learn teamwork and the ability to trust each other by completing challenges. Students often do things they never thought they could because of the encouragement and support they get from their peers.

We have had the opportunity over the last five years to attend a cooking class at The Portland Culinary Workshop. We learn a wealth of information on basic cooking techniques as well as make a delicious meal.

Each year we go on a bonding trip. We spend two nights and three days getting to know each other. We play team building games, make meals together, and just have a good time learning about each other.

Every three years we go to Washington DC. While there we go to Mt. Vernon, the Holocaust Museum, the monuments and memorials, the Smithsonian, the Spy Museum, and Ford’s Theatre. This is a great conclusion to their American history unit.

When we are studying Shakespeare, we spend two nights in Ashland, Oregon where we attend various Shakespeare plays.