Cluster One (Grades: K-1-2-3)
The Cluster One program of the Sonoma Charter School provides settings for children ages 5 to 8 to
accommodate a wide range of experiences, interests and ways of learning.
K-1 Classrooms follow the Montessori philosophy that places the student and the center of all learning
in the following ways:
• meeting the child where he/she is academically physically and social-emotionally
• individualized and small group instruction/learning in a well-prepared environment
• hands-on materials
• strong focus on community/ classroom/world responsibility and peace education
Montessori philosophy places a strong emphasis on the cultural curriculum for the purposes of skill development and student engagement. Students use individual work plans to guide their choices, keep track of assignments and support independence. A prepared environment is key to a successful Montessori classroom. The K-1 multi-age classroom supports the vast range of abilities and allow for leadership/mentorship roles, even at this young age.
All Classes in the Cluster 1 Program include:
• Mindfulness Practice based on the Mindful Schools program
• Daily 5 for literacy support
• Arts Integration through Focus 5 for classroom management, student collaboration,
and accessing curriculum through the arts
• Grade-Level Proficiency Program (GLPP)
Focus upon a particular curriculum theme within the integrated format is determined
by various means, including:
• The observation that children are all interested in something.
• The belief that one child’s interest reflects many children’s interests.
• The knowledge that work upon any particular theme captures children’s interest
and meets their needs in a variety of ways.
• Multiculturalism in the classroom stresses that understanding
other cultures and other languages in the world is crucial to the
inter-connectedness of humans; thus, encouraging self-esteem,
respect for all life, and the experience of success in life.
• The classroom environment must be a ‘prepared’ one, in order to
make the program a success.
• Active participation is essential; learning materials are concrete
and relevant to children’s lives. Objects children can manipulate
and experiment with such as blocks, cards, games, tapes,
books, tools, computers, arts and crafts materials, and scientific
equipment, are enticing and readily accessible.
• Multicultural images and materials are integrated throughout the environment.
• Attention is given to an organization that allows for flexibility of whole class
instruction, small group instruction, or individual study.
Teachers continuously gauge the progress of each Cluster One student in a variety of ways, including formal and informal assessments, teacher observations and individual student portfolios. Students receive trimester progress reports including one parent-teacher conference. Report cards reflect academic progress, as well as social and emotional skill acquisition.
Cluster Two (Grades: 4 – 5)
Cluster 2 Program continues to adjust curriculum to meet students’ specific needs. Students develop a more independent, self-governed approach to learning. They are encouraged to take on challenging tasks, be resourceful and self-reliant, and to push themselves beyond their comfort zones. In addition, collaboration and building respectful relationships is vital to the health of our classroom community.
Outdoor Learning Experiences include:
• Coloma Outdoor Discovery School (overnight)
• Sonoma Garden Park
• Sonoma Valley Museum of Art
• Overlook Trail
4th Grade Program
English Language Arts (ELA) — Following the common core state standards for ELA, 4th graders will:
increase reading fluency, expression and comprehension of grade-level text; refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text; determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text, describe in-depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions), etc. They will also write narratives, opinion pieces, and informational works with clear and coherent details. Students will work in collaborative groups using academic language to explain ideas, etc. Find the full list of 4th grade ELA standards at www.corestandards.org
Math — Instructional time focuses on three critical areas:
(1) developing understanding and fluency with multi-digit multiplication, and developing understanding of dividing to find quotients involving multi-digit dividends; (2) developing an understanding of fraction equivalence, addition and subtraction of fractions with like denominators, and multiplication of fractions by whole numbers; (3) understanding that geometric figures can be analyzed and classified based on their properties, such as having parallel sides, perpendicular sides, particular angle measures, and symmetry. Find the full list of 4th grade math standards at www.corestandards.org
Social Studies — Students learn the story of their home state, unique in American history in terms of its vast and varied geography, its many waves of immigration beginning with Pre-Columbian societies, its continuous diversity, economic energy, and rapid growth. In addition to the specific treatment of milestones in California history, students examine the state in the context of the rest of the nation, with an emphasis on the U.S. Constitution and the relationship between state and federal government.
Science — The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) include: energy, waves and their applications in technologies for information transfer, molecules to organisms: structures and processes, Earth’s place in the universe, Earth’s systems, Earth and human activity.
Book Projects during the year in which students select and read books from different literature, create a written summary of the book, and produce and present a project related to the book.
5th Grade Program
English Language Arts (ELA) — Following the common core state standards for ELA, 5th graders will:
compare and contrast grade-level text, cite evidence from the text to support conclusions, quote accurately from informational text, determine the main idea or theme of text, and investigate and understand the use of figurative language. They will also write narratives, opinion pieces, and informational works with clear and coherent details. Students will work in collaborative groups using academic language to explain ideas.
Math – As stated in the common core state standards, instruction will focus on:
1) developing fluency with addition and subtraction of fractions, and developing an understanding of the multiplication of fractions and of division of fractions in limited cases (unit fractions divided by whole numbers and whole numbers divided by unit fractions); 2) extending division to two-digit divisors, integrating decimal fractions into the place value system and developing an understanding of operations with decimals to hundredths, and developing fluency with whole number and decimal operations; and 3) developing understanding of volume
Social Studies – In 5th grade we will study the development of the United States up to 1850, with an emphasis on the people who were already here, when and from where others arrived, and why they came. Students will also know the location of the current 50 states and the names of their capitals.
Science – The NGSS standards for 5th grade include exploring matter and its interactions, gravity, how animals obtain energy that originates from the sun, interdependent relationships of ecosystems, human impacts on earth, and earth’s place within the universe.
Cluster Three (Grades: 6-7-8)
Cluster 3 Program for grades 6-7-8 continues to adjust curriculum to meet students’ specific needs. Students develop a more independent, self-governed approach to learning. They are encouraged to take on challenging tasks, be resourceful and self-reliant, and to push themselves beyond their comfort zones. In addition, collaboration and building respectful relationships is vital to the health of our classroom community.
6th Grade Language Arts:
Novel studies: Pay It Forward and Maniac Magee
Narrator point of view
Compare and contrast texts
7th Grade Language Arts:
Novels: “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton,
“The Master Puppeteer” by Katherine Paterson,
and “Last Book in the Universe” by Rodman Philbrick.
Writing: Argumentative essays, informative essays, narratives, poetry, and
learning to write in MLA format.
8th Grade Language Arts:
Novels: “Legend” by Marie Lu, “Red Badge of Courage”
by Stephen Crane, “Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank
Writing: Argumentative essays, Informative essays,
narratives, poetry, and continue to write in MLA format.
6th Grade Social Studies:
Early Humans, Mesopotamians, and Egyptians
Early civilizations of India and China
7th Grade Social Studies (World History):
Fall of Rome, The growth of Islam, Sub-Saharan
Africa, Asian civilization, European history,
Early American civilizations
Historical Fiction Novel:
7th graders write a historical fiction novel over the course of 7th grade. The students use what they
learn in English to write the novel about a time traveling character that visits the times and places
we study in history throughout the course of the year. Students often self-publish their novels to create
a very professional final product.
8th Grade Social Studies (American History):
Discovery of America, American revolution, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, our government systems, Civil War, WWI, WWII, civil rights, recent and current history.
6th Grade Earth & Space Science:
• Space systems
• Earth Systems
• Weather and Climate
7th Grade Life Science:
• Cells and Body Systems
• Natural Selection
8th Grade Physical Science:
• Structure and Properties of Matter
• Energy and Forces
• Waves and Electromagnetic Spectrum
6 & 7th Grade Mathematics:
Multiplication and division of fractions
and multi-digit numbers
Geometry: area, surface area, volume
Statistical variability and distributions
8th grade Algebra includes Linear Equations and Functions
The 8th Grade Exiting Project is an important part of our program at SCS. It is a culmination of our students’ k-8 experience, through which the 8th graders are challenged to demonstrate their academic strength across the curriculum. The project begins early in the year with each student selecting an area of study to pursue. Then the students work throughout the year to prepare an in-depth written report that covers their core subjects such as English, History, Math, and Science. The kids also create an artistic element, use modern technology, and interview an expert. Students then create a tri-fold board and a 10-20 minute presentation to share with a panel of judges from the community.