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Curriculum Overview

River School makes the distinction of two kinds of curricula in a school:

1) The explicit curriculum – state standards, formative and summative assessments, textbooks and resource materials.

2) The implicit curriculum – everything else in a school that sends messages to students, thereby, “teaching”. The implicit curriculum include but limited to: how desks are arranged in class, how students are responded to when they make a mistake, what quality of relationships exist between adults and students, how grading is done, how teachers acknowledge their mistakes, etc.

Both are needed in order to attain the purpose of the school:

to educate sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students to be responsible, respectful self-motivated learners who make positive contributions to their communities by acting for the good of the whole. We will accomplish this with the collaboration of teachers, parents and students who provide a nurturing learning environment that emphasizes academic competence, creative expression, and personal and social responsibility and models the values we want our students to learn.

This section shares the explicit curriculum, the subjects taught, and the implicit curriculum, how that is taught.


Explicit Curriculum

For our explicit curriculum, River School has adopted the New Tech Network (NTN) of project-based learning (PBL).

“As stated Project-based learning (PBL) is at the heart of our instructional approach.  In PBL, learning is contextual, creative, and shared.  Students collaborate on meaningful projects that require critical thinking, creativity, and communication in order for them to answer challenging questions or solve complex problems. By making learning relevant to them in this way, students see a purpose for mastering state-required skills and content concepts. 

Students aren’t just assessed on their understanding of academic content, but on their ability to successfully apply that content when solving authentic problems.  Through this process, project based learning gives students the opportunity to develop the real life skills required for success in today’s world.”-newtechnetwork.org

River Welcome Video
New Technology Network

Guiding our instruction are the NTN school-wide learning outcomes (SWLOs) as defined by NTN of:

  • Knowledge and Thinking – The ability to reason, problem-solve, develop sound arguments or decisions, and create new ideas by using appropriate sources and applying the knowledge and skills of a discipline.

  • Written Communication – The ability to effectively communicate content knowledge and thinking through writing by organizing and structuring ideas and using discipline appropriate language and conventions.

  • Oral Communication – The ability to effectively communicate content knowledge and thinking through oral interactions and presentations.

  • Collaboration – The ability to demonstrate effective communication, responsibility, initiative, and leadership in order to be a productive member of diverse teams.

  • Agency – The ability to reflect on the development of self-management skills, learning habits, and mindsets.


Implicit Curriculum

Because River School is not just about teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic but is also focused on teaching the character habits of the Four R’s – responsibility, respect, resourcefulness, and responsiveness; our curricular program must include ways to teach these habits. To that end, we have adopted the Ho`ala Educational Philosophy which began in Hawaii in 1972. This philosophy begins with the assumptions that in order to have students model the Four R’s :

1) The best way to “teach” character is by having adults model the behaviors. Middle schoolers can easily detect when adults do not “walk the talk.”

2) Nurturing our students’ need for sense of belonging and connection and a need for a sense of identity or self is critical to having them learn and model the Four R’s.

With these two assumptions in mind, we organize as many aspects of our school to create a school to nurture all our students and to support our teachers in growing into the Four Rs themselves. We also support parents by providing a free parenting class so that they are partnering with the school to empower their children to become more responsible, respectful, resourceful, and responsive. In the end, we want to educate good citizens who will contribute to making our world a better place for all.

Please refer to the tab “School Culture” to read about the many ways our school’s culture is the implicit curriculum that support our students in gaining these habits of character.

Enchrichment Classes

River School is excited to provide an opportunity for students to experience a wide variety of subjects within our Enrichment classes. These classes meet 3 times per week, for 40 minutes each and will last a trimester.  

Subjects are selected by the staff and each class is open for sign-ups at the beginning of the trimester. 

Examples of past offerings: Book Club, Guitar & music, Garden & Culinary, 3-D Printer Class, Coding, MESA - Math Engineering Science Achievement Club, Mandala Art, Weaving & Basketry, Leadership & Student Council, Weight Training, Needlepoint, etc.

River school enrichment