Why Choose Us?

100_8915Our educational aim is to give a full life and help students and teachers find what we call, “flow.”

“Thou hast set my feet in a large room,’ should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking—the strain would be too great—but, all living; that is to say we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest.” ~ Charlotte Mason

In every aspect and every action of Gillingham Charter School, the question asked by all is:

“By doing this, or using that, or going there, are we truly RESPECTING our students as persons, nourishing their relationships with themselves, others, nature, and ideas?”

We answer this crucial question in the affirmative by using three core, school-wide tools that measure, delineate, qualify, and quantify our relational practices:

Atmosphere

  • Respect, respect, respect, respect, respect for all
  • Small schools and small classes
  • “Forms” (multi-aged classes)
  • Beautiful, orderly classrooms, schoolhouse, and grounds
  • Teachers that co-learn with their students
  • Masterly inactivity
  • Minimal homework that is both meaningful and individualized
  • Learning organization in which all persons learn – both students and adults
  • Non-traditional, shared leadership
  • School-wide chores

Discipline

  • Method of narration
  • Student talk instead of teacher interrogation
  • The grand conversation
  • Restorative practices and soft skills: habits for relating and working with others
  • Howard Gardner’s “Five Minds for the Future”
  • Creative, disciplined, synthesizing, ethical, and respectful
  • Habits of Mind and the Eight Habits of Highly Successful People
  • Asian Mathematical Teaching: “Whole to Part” Conceptual Learning
  • Kodaly Method of Music Instruction for all
  • Japan’s Lesson Study for teacher learning
  • Competitive sports preparation and involvement for all

Life

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  • The best whole books and the best things
  • No traditional textbooks, lectures, or worksheets
  • No traditional grades, prizes, marks, or punishments
  • Authentic assessment- open ended essay exams three times a year
  • Narrative report cards
  • Portfolios and individualized learning plans
  • Weekly nature walks
  • The arts, high level science and math, sports…for EVERYONE every year
  • High school internships
  • Monthly service projects
  • Monthly field studies
  • School-wide gardening
  • Picture study, composer study, nature study
  • Piano, strings, and other instrument instruction for all

ASIAN STYLE MATH

Gillingham’s mathematics curricula emphasize the understanding of math concepts instead of rote memorization of equations and formulas. Students not only cover the core curriculum required by PA State Standards, but they go on to truly understand math and its real-life applications. Math becomes “relevant and compelling.” They can “strategically apply math both in college courses and every day situations.”

Our math curricula include Right Start Math in the 1st through 5th grades, the Connected Mathematics Project in the 6th through 8th grades, and the Interactive Mathematics Program for grades 9 through 12.

Right Start Math
Right Start Math uses “…visualization of quantities, de-emphasizes counting, and provides strategies (visual pictures) for learning the facts. The primary learning tool is the AL Abacus, a specially designed two-sided abacus that is both kinesthetic and visual…when children understand, they need to spend less time in review and practice. When children don’t understand, they memorize until the burden becomes too great and then they give up. Rote memorizing is high maintenance; it requires constant review. And those merely memorizing math usually can’t apply it and generally dislike it.”

Connected Mathematics Project
“…Teachers of Connected Mathematics (CMP) report that students in succeeding grades remember and refer to a concept, technique, or problem-solving strategy by the name of the problem in which they encountered the ideas. For example, the basketball problem from “What Do You Expect?” in Grade Seven becomes a trigger for remembering the processes of finding compound probabilities and expected values.

Results from the cognitive sciences also suggest that learning is enhanced if it is connected to prior knowledge and is more likely to be retained and applied to future learning. Critically examining, refining, and extending conjectures and strategies are also important aspects of becoming reflective learners.

In CMP, important mathematical ideas are embedded in the context of interesting problems. As students explore a series of connected problems, they develop understanding of the embedded ideas and, with the aid of the teacher, abstract powerful mathematical ideas, problem- solving strategies, and ways of thinking. They learn mathematics and learn how to learn mathematics…”

Interactive Mathematics Program
Gillingham’s high school math program utilizes a rather innovative Asian approach to mathematics instruction.

Just like Finland, Japan, and Singapore, Gillingham’s Asian Learning Approach to Mathematics offers the students not only the core high school mathematics curriculum, but it also helps students to learn and think creatively and critically. Students learn to draw simultaneously from many areas of math to solve real-life problems. Our students will also learn advanced math topics such as statistical analysis, matrix algebra, discrete mathematics, and the conceptual basis of calculus.