CLASSROOMS AND CURRICULUM
Although our Open Optional program follows most defined curriculum and all standards set by the Anchorage School District, our curriculum is enhanced through experiences. Using these experiences, children will explore and master academic subjects (math, reading and writing, science, and social studies) and expand their knowledge. All students participate in Art, Health, Music, Library and Physical Education provided by Anchorage School District specialists in their field. Special education services are available to any qualified students, as with any school in the Anchorage School District.
CHOICES IN THE CLASSROOM
In the Optional Program, children are given choices. Although each day is planned by the teacher, within the structure of the required activities, children exercise some choices as to how, when, where and with whom they will do each activity. As children demonstrate their ability to choose responsibly, follow through with learning contracts, and show a desire to be an active learner, they are given greater opportunities. Commitment and responsibility are stressed. Children are expected to carry through with the choices they make.
MIXED GROUP ACTIVITIES
Children of different ages and abilities work together in their classrooms and out. They are required to accomplish projects in cooperative groups within classrooms, work with "buddies" in other classes, learn responsibility as an elder, and learn to ask for help as a younger student. All of our children learn to respect individual differences and to value the opinions of others. "Cross-Optional" events and field trips, in which all children grades K-6 participate, provide another opportunity for responsibility and trust to build between all ages.
FIELD TRIPS AND COMMUNITY RESOURCES
The Optional Program extends into the community on a regular basis. Guest speakers enrich the classroom experience. Frequent field trips give children exposure to their local environment and teach them that our community is rich in resources. Children are expected to maintain excellent behavior while on these trips. For field trips, parents provide transportation, classes walk, or district buses are used.
Our buddy system allows younger students to work directly with an elder student on a number of things such as reading, helping to zip jackets before recess, and walking to the bus. The relationship that develops between our students, regardless of age, is amazing to watch. You will often see K/1 students in the 3/4 classroom reading poetry they've penned to each other, or 5/6 students in the K/1 room listening to a each other read aloud. You will commonly find mixed age groups playing math games with decks of cards or dice.
Every year each classroom produces and performs a play. Sometimes they even write the plays themselves! While putting on a play may not seem academic, the curriculum and goals for the program are well supported through the practice of public speaking, narration and story telling, reading fluency, and writing about the experience. The children are also given an opportunity to explore many things including stagecraft and computer editing, reading music and using their voice in a group, time management and organization, and taking and giving direction with grace.