CurriculumOur education at PCCS is grounded in place-based and strives to ensure all students have a solid academic understanding of the natural world and recognize their own relationship with the environment. We approach education from a whole-student perspective, focusing on an academic understanding of the environment, an effective relationship with nature, and practicing behaviors that strengthen our communities. Through all academic disciplines, our curriculum connects to the environment. We emphasize working in teams with critical thinking and hands-on activities that focus on real-world issues. Raising environmentally conscious problem solvers help ensure that tomorrow’s decision-makers are prepared for the challenges they will face in the future. We prepare our students to be Natural Leaders.
PCCS practices constructivist teaching. Constructivism is an approach to teaching and learning based on the idea that students build (construct!) their own knowledge based on integrating new information with what they already know.
Constructivism relies on experiential learning and the inquiry learning cycle. In the inquiry learning cycle, learners go through a cycle of asking questions, investigating answers, creating explanations, reflecting on and applying the new knowledge, and generating more questions.
Constructivist practices that PCCS employs include:
Within PCCS’ curriculum, teachers use problem-based learning as an instructional method which challenges students to “learn to learn”. Students work cooperatively and are engaged to seek solutions to real world problems the initiate learning in various disciplines. This instructional method prepares students to think critically and analytically, as well as utilize different learning resources appropriate for their grade level. It meets the needs of students in a variety of ways because it is student-centered, student-driven, and allows the teachers to differentiate instruction.
Service Learning is a method of instruction that integrates meaningful community service with academic learning and personal reflection. Service learning brings school out into the community and the broader community into schools, providing an enriching, integrated and meaningful educational experience. In addition to learning about academic topics, research shows that service learning is invaluable for teaching 21st century skills, such as collaboration, critical thinking, career readiness, and technology. Most importantly, service learning imparts valuable citizenship skills and is incorporate into the curriculum from kindergarten through 8th grade. In early grades, students participate in teacher-led service learning projects, gradually taking on ownership until in 7th and 8th grades, students take on a culminating project that is entirely student generated and led. For more information on Service Learning at PCCS see below.
Overviews contain ELA curriculum as well as PE, Art, Music and Spanish
Kindergarten: Our Kindergarten classes are from 8:00 to 1:00 and are limited to 22 students per class. Each class has a Teacher and Instructional Assistant in order to ensure the social, academic and developmental needs of each child are met.
PCCS Scope and Sequence
Service Learning Projects
- Students will be active members of their communities, working to address environmental concerns and seeking to improve conditions in their community and beyond;
- Students will be empowered to enact change and feel the joy that comes from knowing you have helped to improve things; and
- Students will learn valuable 21st century skills, including civic involvement, collaboration, communication, problem solving, and critical thinking.
- How will I improve the world and positively impact the environment and my community?
- How can I showcase the person I have become in my years at PCCS?
- Fieldwork/Service hours. Students volunteer, completing meaningful service towards completing their project.
- Final Paper. The paper, aligned with ELA CCSS, involves writing five, 4-5 paragraph essays about the issue and project.
- Final Presentation. In a final gallery-style presentation, students uses displays, media and other visuals and prepare a 3-minute talk to small groups of audience, through the course of one day at the end of 8th grade.
- First, they will go through a process of assessing both community needs and their own interests and talents to determine what issue they want to address and how they want to address it (their project). Students create goals and action plans to guide how they will accomplish their goals.
- The final paper is comprised of several small sections which are assigned throughout 7th and 8th grade. For each section, students will receive an assignment that guides them as to what questions to address in the research and writing of that section. Students will complete an outline of the section, and then turn in a rough draft. After faculty and peer editing, students turn in a final draft of the section.
- Field hours — service hours that the students put forth, both during and outside of school hours, toward addressing their challenge. These are monitored in 5-hour increments. Ten hours must be completed by the end of 7th grade and an additional 25 hours by the end of 8th grade. In addition to completing the required number of hours, students must accomplish a goal that makes an impact for the community. Students, with adult guidance, set their own goals, decide what the outcome of their project will be and their hours are assessed based on their accomplishment of their own goals. Goals can be modified throughout the process.
Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports
At PCCS, our school-wide expectations are “Be Responsible, Be Respectful, & Be Safe.” A matrix, which specifies student behaviors in alignment with these expectations, is utilized across the various settings of our school. Positive acknowledgement of student behavior is given through the distribution of Hawk Tickets, in an effort to encourage further display of positive behaviors in students as well as to encourage recognition of positive behaviors by staff.
For more information about PBIS, click here.
Special Ed and Student Services
Regular Education Services
At Prairie Crossing Charter School, additional services may be available to students at-risk of not meeting grade level expectations. For students who qualify, services are currently offered in the areas of reading and math. PCCS has developed a Response to Intervention Plan, a regular education initiative which provides a blueprint for teachers to develop interventions and assist planning for their student’s academic development.
Special Education Services Prairie Crossing Charter School offers wide array of special education services to students who qualify. Special Education staff include special education teachers, a psychologist, a social worker, a speech/language therapist and an occupational therapist. PCCS utilizes a detailed problem solving plan to identify student needs and develop how services are provided to an individual student. We recognize parents are a critical member of the team and encourage parent involvement in the problem solving process. It is important for parents to understand their rights regarding special education services for their child(ren).
Click here to learn about educational rights and responsibilities from the Illinois State Board of Education.
- Lodging Consent Form (will be available through classrooms with electronic signature)
- First Aid Permission Form (will be available through classrooms with electronic signature)
- Campout Trip Policies and Procedures
- Chaperone Forms for PCCS Camping Trip
- Physician Authorization Form
Our 5th-6th grade trips feature an immersion experience in a new natural area, alternating between the ravines of Starved Rock and the lakefront and sand dunes at Warren Dunes. This allows Prairie Crossing Charter School students to learn about the geology, flora, fauna, and history of different ecosystems. Our students also learn environmentally friendly recreation skills and the importance of teamwork.
During this five-day long field trip, students and staff have the opportunity to bond and enhance their sense of connections among and between people and the environment. Eagle Bluff is dedicated to fostering environmental awareness and promoting respect and personal responsibility, values that are in perfect alignment with the mission and values of Prairie Crossing Charter School. During this trip, our students take experiential classes that include geology, navigation, macro-invertebrates, stream ecology, astrology, mythology, discovery, team building, low ropes courses, and rock climbing on an indoor wall.
7th Grade Spring Camping Trip Devil’s Lake State Park
Prairie Crossing Charter School students spend their nights at a group campsite in tents and cook all of their foods over a fire, learning self-sufficiency and personal empowerment. They also participate in hikes around the lake, learn about the area’s geology, and visit the International Crane Foundation and Aldo Leopold’s “shack” and Foundation. Prior to departing for this trip, the 7th graders read a book about Sandhill cranes and sections of A Sand County Almanac, written by Aldo Leopold. The trip then tiesperfectly into their educational curriculum.
This trip allows Prairie Crossing Charter School students to canoe in the wilderness, complete a high ropes and teams’ course, and learn about the ecology of the North Woods. The trip also serves as an intense group bonding experience and a journey of personal discovery as students learn about their own strengths, challenges and interests.
8th Grade Spring Trip Civil War History, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
Led by 8th Grade History Teacher Mr. Habel and a perennial favorite of all graduating classes, this distinctive 12-day trip spans historic Civil War battlefields, monuments, and our nations capital. It reveals firsthand to our students the unique history of that time period in America. Of course, this trip has an environmental twist, the class also study the ecology of every battlefield, learning about how the unique environmental aspects of that site may have influenced the battles that took place there.