Link Community Charter School prides itself on its rigorous academic program which prepares students for entrance as well as success into great high schools and beyond. The school’s curriculum is aligned with the Common Core standards, the NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. The Upper School program includes:
English Language Arts (ELA)
Link places primary importance on language and literacy, as essential tools for the human experience. The English language arts curriculum aims to establish competence in reading and writing, build critical language skills, and develop important communication skills, including listening, speaking, and oral presentation. The program helps students gain increased confidence and develops the skills necessary for college and career readiness in the 21st century global community. ELA in the Upper House is presented in two separate but interrelated classes: literature and composition, with a deep exploration and regular practice into the essential skills found in each area, devoting 90 minutes daily in total to students furthering developing their crafts in increasingly independent work settings.
Composition, 7th and 8th grades. Students practice several types of writing, primarily in response to what they read. While what they read includes many genres, they increasingly focus on non- fiction/informational text, developing connections as they read; both between themselves and the text, and ultimately within the text and between different texts. They write in narrative, expressive and creative modes, but they progressively move on critical analysis and the use of arguments, reasoning and evidence. They come to understand writing as a craft that is practiced repeatedly and a process that unfolds through a commitment to planning, revising, editing and publishing. The writing assignments are frequent and focus the students on carefully improving all levels of writing: sentence, paragraph and complete essays. With a strong focus on self reflection and feedback, both from peers and the teacher, students develop a strong understanding of the process of writing. Research is folded into the process frequently. While the composition class focusing on writing, students also develop essential communication skills; speaking, listening, and oral presentation are all integrated in the lessons and activities.
Literature, 7th and 8th grades. Students explore a variety of genres, periods, authors, and cultural references, focusing on reading as the necessary foundation for all good writers. Students work to read closely, actively and imaginatively, all the while enjoying the beauty, wisdom and humor of literature. Lively and purposeful class discussions, oral readings, and dramatic presentations reinforce the lessons and reading. Engagement with the text unfolds in writings that capture students making connections to the literature they read. Students work to discern the full meaning of texts and use textual evidence to form strong arguments and support deep analysis. Students also work to identify inconsistencies, ambiguities, and poor reasoning in texts they read. In addition to the literature class’ focus on reading, students also develop essential communication skills; speaking, listening, and oral presentation are all integrated in the lessons and activities. The fiction that is selected is paired with informational text to both highlight the breadth and depth of knowledge needed to comprehend the text as well ensure that students are meeting and exceeding the common core state standards that require at least 50% non-fiction for middle school students.
Math and Algebra
Math literacy is at the forefront of Link Community School’s academic priorities as an essential skill and knowledge base for college and career readiness in the 21st century. Link Community Charter School’s approach to math is focused on deepening conceptual understanding. It is critical that students understand concepts at a depth necessary to encounter new problems, while learning skills to augment this understanding. It is not enough to memorize the rules or steps necessary to solve an equation; students must understand the foundation for such rules.
Pre-Algebra, 7th grade. The Pre-Algebra course will build students’ understanding of rational numbers, operations, and algebraic representations using models, such as lines and verbal models. Students will also apply their skills to problem solving situations and use estimation to check reasonableness. Topics such as measurement conversions, area averages and data displays are also introduced early in the course and then integrated and expanded throughout the year. Equations and functions, geometry, square roots and probability will be among some of the major units covered.
Algebra, 8th grade. The Algebra course provides for the use of algebraic skills in a wide range of problem- solving situations. The concept of function is emphasized throughout the course. Included in the coursework is addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of polynomials, factoring polynomials, solving equations with one and two variables, graphing linear and quadratic relations and functions, using exponents and irrational numbers, and solving word problems. Students will be expected to describe and translate among graphic, algebraic, numeric, tabular, and verbal representations of relations and use those representations to solve problems. Appropriate technology, from manipulatives to calculators and application software, is used to support student achievement.
In preparation for a complex global society and with the expectation that 21st century learners will need new competencies, Link’s social studies curriculum looks to develop students who apply content knowledge, acquire citizenship skills, and work together with others. The focus in this course is threefold: U.S. History: Americans in the World, World History: Global Studies and Active Citizenship in the 21st Century. During the year, 7th graders explore U.S. History up to Civil War and the 8th graders go from Reconstruction to the present, one period daily.
Grade 7. U.S. History I starts at the beginnings of civilization in North America and works through the Age of European Exploration and Colonization, setting the stage for an in-depth study of the American Revolution and the formation of our great nation. Our journey will conclude in the 1800’s with the Civil War.
Grade 8. U.S. History II studies the economic, political, and social events across the history of the United States from Reconstruction following the Civil War to the present day. Major topics of study include the industrialization and urbanization of America, the world wars, domestic and foreign policy during the Cold War, and reform movements such as the Civil Rights Movement. Students will develop and utilize critical and higher order thinking skills to evaluate 21 Century Themes such as civic literacy and global awareness. They will work extensively with informational texts to analyze primary sources, produce narrative and research-based writing, and expand content and academic vocabulary.
Link strives to instill in students a conceptual understanding of the science content that is vital for success in the twenty-first century.The process of scientific inquiry, experimentation and technological design are constant threads throughout Link’s science program that focuses as much as “what” is known as it does on “how” it is known. Link Community Charter School’s science program is laboratory based, providing students with regular independent student practice.Students are in science class for one period daily.
Life Science, 7th grade. Life Science is an introduction to the fundamental concepts of biology from the study of one-celled organisms to multi-celled organisms and their body systems. In preparation for high school biology, students will learn and apply common safety lab practices, use scientific tools and equipment, and work within the framework of the scientific method to solve everyday problems or answer scientific questions. By the end of the course, students are able to think critically, apply basic life science knowledge, problem solving skills to everyday living, and, consequently, increase awareness of the importance of science in daily life.
Physical Science, 8th grade. Physical Science empowers students to investigate the principles that govern the composition and movement of matter in a hands-on and interactive way. From compounds and solutions to elements and atoms, students discover the structure of the world around them through rigorous and engaging laboratory experiments, tests, discussions, and daily work. As an introductory course to Physical Science, students will be asked to negotiate basic topics in physics and chemistry and to be cognizant of the scientific method and how it is applicable to the world around us. This course prepares students for high school science, in particular chemistry and physics. At the end of the course, students will be able to think critically, apply their knowledge of science to their everyday lives, and utilize the scientific method to solve problems.
Physical Education and Health
The Physical Education and Health courses cultivate skills and mindsets necessary for making healthy decisions and developing healthy habits, making the connection between wellness and health and physical activity. The overall goal in physical education class is to develop knowledge and skills around two key areas: motor skill development and fitness. Improving and maintaining strength, flexibility, and endurance are a primary focus. The goal in health class is to build health literacy that will influence decision-making and ultimately behaviors within the context of self, family, school and community. Upper House students take physical education class twice each week, and a health class once a week. (In addition, some health topics are covered in Advisory class.)
Physical Education 7 and 8. The 7th and 8th grade Physical Education Units are a cohesive set of units that will scaffold instruction from one grade level to the next. The units have been developed as building blocks of skills and concepts that will move instruction from one unit to the next. All units are made up of a blended set of standards and cumulative progress indicators that fully encapsulate the major ideas and themes behind the unit. The incorporation of different standards through major, supporting and additional concepts provide a greater opportunity for comprehensive Physical Education instruction in each unit. The units progress from wellness education (fitness concepts and activities) to developing and applying movement education skills in isolated and applied situations in various activities such as individual skill development, team activities and strategies and cooperative activities.
Health, 7th Grade. Life Skills is all about decision-making. Only you can choose what to do and what not to do. Other people may influence you, but the choices you make are ultimately your decision. This class will arm students with the knowledge and skills to make positive choices in their lives. Topics covered include self-management, personal health, decision making, and substance abuse.
Health. 8th Grade. Healthy living and having a healthy lifestyle are reinforced in all areas of the school culture, however the health classes serve as a springboard for the direct teaching of these lifelong skills. The 8th grade Health curriculum seeks to provide students with the skills necessary to be successful in various areas of their life. Topics include; mental, emotional and social health; environmental health; nutrition and physical activity; growth, development and family life; prevention and control of disease; and injury and personal safety.
This Technology course is an exploratory course to learn the basics of keyboarding, information literacy, word- processing, excel, and multi-media. Students will also learn about internet safety, cyber bullying and social, legal and ethical issues related to use of technology, including acceptable use and copyright. They will put their skills to use through projects and coursework in their core and other co-curricular classes.
The 7th and 8th Grade Performing Arts courses introduce students to a real theater experience. Students learn about the history of early theater styles, study improvisation, create original monologues and participate in theater technique games. In addition, students critique plays and work towards a final performance to be viewed by their peers.
Using the Discipline Based Art Education approach, Link’s art program is based on the philosophy that art is a universal language that transcends time, belonging to everyone, which is spoken by people of every time and every culture. This language communicates and creates, helping students know themselves and relate their experiences to the world beyond the classroom. To master this language, students will be exposed to artistic works, learn how to view artistic works, learn how to estimate their qualities and learn to appreciate or enjoy their artistic appeals. Each art lesson includes four essential components: history, criticism, production, and aesthetics.
The 7th Grade program provides greater challenges with project complexity and artist sophistication.
The 8th Grade program continues to heighten the challenges and complexities for students as they complete their exploration.
Delivered in partnership with Jazz House Kids (JHK), the music program provides students the highest quality music education possible. JHK works within the existing framework of national and state music education standards while also energizing the curriculum with “The Jazz Across the Curriculum” philosophy, the program is designed to bring music learning to students in a new and exciting way. Every student will receive instruction in music performance, history and theory in a way that ties the knowledge to all facets of their in-school and out‐of‐school education. The class focuses on ways to bring the music alive and strives to make it relevant to the students by looking at music within a larger context of social, economic, musical, historical, technological and political viewpoints. In the 7th and 8th grades, students will focus on the instrumental element, particularly keyboarding.
High School Preparation and Test Prep
In this weekly class, 7th and 8th graders prepare for the application process used in competitive public and private schools by developing important skills and understandings, including creating personal profiles; practicing test taking and developing test taking strategies; completing strong applications; writing powerful essays; learning about scholarship opportunities and how to secure financial support for high school; practice with interviewing; and writing thank you letters after interviews and school visits. Test preparation arms students with the strategies and practice necessary to be successful with test taking, a necessary element of the competitive school application process.