When it comes to defining the curriculum for our students, the overarching mission is to advance knowledge through the practice of teaching and learning. However, at Deerfield Community School we understand curriculum to be a living, breathing thing. A curriculum is not a dusty document that ends up on a shelf, but rather a course of study that evolves as it is taking place.
Of course, our curriculum does exist in written form, providing the foundation for a consistent school-wide educational philosophy and approach to learning. It articulates expectations for practice and serves as a principal means for communicating this practice both within the school and to the larger community. On each individual academic section to the left, you will find a description of the program at DCS along with a link to that discipline’s current curriculum.
Our curriculum goes beyond the standards through flexible instruction that engages, challenges, fosters creativity and is relevant to students’ lives.
The school board has responsibility and authority for the district’s curriculum and reviews and ultimately approves the curriculum and all associated instructional materials. Once approved by the board, the curriculum will be posted on the school’s website. Annually the board will consider updates to between two and four curriculum areas. This process is taken on by a group of teachers who organize as a curriculum committee.
Our Academic Foundation
Our approach to the academic course of study throughout the school has these elements in common:
Essential environment: Environment is our setting, the context in which learning takes place. It may be indoors or out-of-doors, but it must always be a place of purpose, which honors each individual as a lifelong learner.
Essential actions: Actions are the process skills, the steps which must be taken to identify and solve a problem. These actions are a link to all areas of learning; together we ask the important questions, plan strategies for problem-solving, think through our ideas and plans, seek out resources, rethink our assumptions, communicate our findings, then extend and deepen our learning.
Essential understandings: Understandings are the learnings themselves, the developmentally appropriate concepts and their applied connections both within an area of learning and to other areas. Understandings happen through active involvement within a purposeful context, as learners set about investigating ideas and solving problems.
Grading at DCS
Deerfield Community School has adopted a “competency-based learning” model for students in grades K-8. This means student learning is driven by clear learning targets (competencies) that students are expected to demonstrate by the end of each grade level. At regular intervals, parents will receive feedback on their child’s progress toward each competency (read about progress reports and conferences below). Parents can also log into Alma to monitor how their student is progressing.
DCS Academic CompetenciesThis document shows the progression of skills and concepts over the course of a child’s education. It is organized by content area.
A key difference between traditional grading practices and competency-based grading is that students continue to work on a skill until they are competent. The teaching and learning are no longer based on time but on mastery of specific skills. The goal is to have a deeper understanding of students’ learning and knowledge and to use that understanding to advance their skills.
Our students understand assessment as a means to gauge their learning. We use diverse assessments to drive our instruction and measure progress.
Progress reports provide specific information about your child’s work and skill development. Parents of students in grades K-8 will receive three progress reports during the school year through ALMA. A printed copy can be obtained by request through the front office.
Conferences provide an opportunity for parents and teachers to share valuable insights about student growth and development at home and school. Parents of students in grades Pre-K-8 can expect two conferences per student per school year. Conferences are used to review student progress and update goals. Additional conferences may be requested at any time by either the parent or the teacher. To schedule an additional conference, contact the teacher to arrange an appointment.
New England League of Middle School Assessment Report:
Deerfield Community School (DCS) invited the New England League of Middle Schools (NELMS) to conduct a school assessment. The process began with a meeting in March, 2018. DCS conducted a self-assessment during April and early May and welcomed the NELMS Visiting Team (VT) later in the month.