· Place-based education is the process of using the local community and environment as a starting point to teach concepts in language arts, math, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum.
· At Discovery Charter School, place-based education will provide a relevant context for instruction; that context will be the natural, cultural, social and political environment of our community, including the rich environments of the Indiana Dunes, Lake Michigan and feeder rivers, adjacent farmland, and residential, commercial, and industrial developments.
ENVIRONMENT AS INTEGRATING CONTEXT
· Because our school will be located in an area dominated by protected natural areas, the major integrating context for our place-based curriculum will be environmental education (“EIC”). By providing students with opportunities to explore and become involved in the local community and environment as a regular part of daily learning, our school will meet the following goals: higher test scores and grades, more advanced critical thinking skills, greater achievement motivation, and more responsible behavior and environmental stewardship.
MORE TIME OUTSIDE
· Discovery Charter School students will spend a meaningful time of each week outside the classroom in educational and exploratory work.
· Complementary to the practice of interdisciplinary studies, students are engaged in real world project based learning in the local community. This is a hands on approach to learning, using natural science field experiences, research, and service projects. Classroom work supports and integrates with field projects, so students will learn skills in class then apply them in field project work. Additional learning labs and class work will develop skill proficiency in subjects such as math, reading and writing.
UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY FOR EDUCATORS ALLOWING CREATIVITY, FLEXIBILITY AND RECOGNITION
· Discovery Charter School will offer an opportunity for teachers to work in a small, flexible environment and allows them the opportunity to allow their creativity to shine in their classrooms.
· Compensation and bonus will be based upon performance and merit.
LONGER SCHOOL DAY
· In order to add the opportunities for field work and the school’s place-based approach, Discovery Charter School students will have a longer school day. School begins at 8:00 AM every morning and students are dismissed at 3:30 PM every day (1:50 PM on Wednesdays).
TEACHER EVALUATION AND SUPPORT
· Teachers will be provided with weekly opportunities for professional development (during the once-per week early dismissal).
· Our school will employ Grade Level Chairs to support and mentor teachers.
· Teachers will have one year contracts and will be expected to perform. This does not mean teachers are not backed up and supported and, in fact, our school has extremely high retention rates.