Communitas will meet California curriculum standards through a personalized, integrated, practical approach to curriculum, with ample opportunities for differentiated instruction. Instructional approaches will combine teacher-designed experiences across disciplines, the development of skills needed for thinking and learning such as writing, and students' own interests, ideas, and questions. The inquiry-based, practical approach allows teachers more opportunity to adapt curriculum to diverse populations. The collaborative, mutually respectful culture at the heart of Communitas will support the achievement of all students.The curriculum at Communitas is organized into four major domains:
The instructional approach of Communitas is primarily: integrative, inquiry based, reflective, and service oriented.
Integrative curriculum follows a model of relating content to a central question of broad significance. The content of a course does not fall within the boundaries of one discipline, and a single course is not likely to contain all the elements of a traditional non-integrated course (such as US History). The Communitas approach to academic content is specifically targeted to the school goals of sustaining student engagement in school, broadening and deepening complex thinking skills, and improving every student's academic proficiency.
Inquiry-based learning allows students to acquire skills and information through problem solving and exploration. Students and teachers pose questions or problems related to the challenges facing their immediate or extended society, and then use the tools of inquiry developed by various fields to develop answers. This approach allows students to have a more personalized and engaging experience of school while developing their complex thinking skills.Research collected by the Buck Institute for Education shows that this kind of approach increases academic achievement by state standards across core disciplines, increases teacher retention, raises students' ability to integrate and explain concepts, and is especially effective with low-achieving students.
Community service and autobiographical reflection will supplement classroom studies. Students will be asked to articulate how various academic topics influence their own life experience, through scientific invention, human biology, cultural history, or other channels. They join or design service projects that address the problematic issues involved in what they study. By connecting their academic learning to their personal experience and the practical needs of their society, students build life learning skills, strengthen their social-emotional growth, and take a more active interest in their studies.