THE PROGRAM AT PNA
PNA has four cornerstones to its academic program: communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. It is through the continual exercise of these four skills that students explore and learn the subject matter. Whether it's art, algebra, or Afghanistan that's the focus, PNA students are required to communicate credibly, collaborate effectively, stretch themselves creatively, and think critically.
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Excellence in Academics
Focus on Character
Strength in Community
Joy in Learning
Small Class Size
Learn By Doing
The philosophy of the classroom is centered on allowing students to relax, explore, risk, and share. It is only in this type of setting that learning soaks in. What you see at PNA is that when you spend the time on the social/emotional learning, the engagement, the fun and the play - and the consequences and the expectations - the superior academics follow.
As students at Pacific Northern Academy are challenged academically, they grow into exceptional learners and independent thinkers. The academic program at PNA encourages critical thinking and development of a global perspective. A real connection is made between school life and the world around them. Students develop sophisticated problem-solving skills, applicable to academics and to life. The results of a PNA education are students who are prepared to take on the opportunities and challenges of the 21st Century.
PNA's Responsive Classroom program structures the daily morning meetings. It focuses on team building, playing games that make kids (and teachers) move, laugh and mingle, and setting expectations for classroom behavior that allow the classroom to coexist and collaborate harmoniously. The first six weeks of school are particularly devoted to these exercises, which sets the stage for deeper and more effective learning throughout the year.
Alaska is unique among the States and has a special relationship with the outdoors, the Lower 48, and the rest of the world. PNA's extensive field trip program pushes students to make connections with the community and create broader contexts. All students, from beginners to eighth graders, participate in the Spring Trips, which provide unique opportunities to propel students out of their comfort zone. From spending the first night ever away from a parent to a first time on a horse, to the first time truly connecting with a classmate, each child comes away with the realization that they are stronger and more courageous than they realized. Spring Trips springboard off of each class’ curriculum, and lengthen in time and distance progressively, culminating in a two \-week international trip.
Pacific Northern Academy utilizes a blend of proven language arts programs and strategies to help students become exceptional readers and writers. Beginning in the earliest grades, students are given opportunities to explore books and participate in read-aloud sessions. Daily Guided Reading sessions allow for each lower school student to be challenged in reading individually. Words Their Way provides foundational activities for decoding and vocabulary skills. Literature appreciation and genre and author studies occur at all grade levels.
Students at Pacific Northern Academy are taught the 6+1 Traits for Writing Skills and participate in Writer’s Workshop to develop comfort with the writing process: pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. A strong focus is placed on writing mechanics and grammar. Students utilize D’Nealian Manuscript and Cursive for handwriting.
PNA uses The Math Learning Center’s Bridges in Mathematics Program for Early Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. The Bridges curriculum offers a unique blend of problem-solving and skill-building in a clearly articulated program that moves through each grade level with common models, teaching strategies, and objectives.
The Bridges curriculum features a combination of whole-group, small group, and independent activities.
Lessons incorporate increasingly complex visual models –seeing, touching, working with manipulatives and sketching ideas—to create pictures in the mind’s eye that help learners invent, understand, and remember mathematical ideas. Computation skills are also reinforced. By encouraging students to explore, test, and justify their reasoning, the curriculum facilitates the development of mathematical thinking.The Bridges curriculum can be adapted to meet the needs, strengths, and interests of individual students.
From Bridges, students progress to Core Connections 1, 2, 3 and Algebra, which are all published by College Preparatory Math (CPM). An innovative middle school and high school program, CPM’s teaching strategies rely on the recommendations of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and are solidly based on the methodological research in teaching mathematics. The research-based principles that guide the courses are:
Students should engage in problem-based lessons structured around a core idea.
Guided by a knowledgeable teacher, students should interact in groups to foster mathematical discourse.
Practice with concepts and procedures should be spaced over time; that is, mastery comes over time.
PNA's math program is created to meet the needs of the individual child. Therefore, middle school students can progress through Geometry and Algebra II.
The Social Studies program at Pacific Northern Academy is designed to help students understand the relationship of individuals to the broader community and how this relationship has evolved from early civilizations to the present day. Our youngest grades focus on community and the middle grades broaden the community lens to the state and the country focusing on making a difference. Lower school ends with an in-depth study of United States history.
Throughout the curriculum, an emphasis is placed on cultural awareness and global perspectives. Our students become “real” social scientists by using the following inquiry process and skills: exploring, observing, applying and connecting knowledge; designing and conducting investigations; constructing relationships and conclusions; thinking critically; taking multiple perspectives and communicating information.
Pacific Northern Academy’s Middle School Social Studies program is designed to prepare students for success at the high school level and beyond. Under the rubric of “Humanities,” it is an integrated program where students gain skills and knowledge in geography, history, civics, and culture. The program is built on the philosophy that inquiry skills are the basis for learning in the field of Social Studies. Students further develop the skills learned in their Lower School years - exploring, observing, applying and connecting knowledge; designing and conducting investigations; constructing relationships and conclusions; thinking critically; taking multiple perspectives and communicating information. Research, oral presentations and literature study play increasingly significant roles in assisting students as they encounter the increasingly sophisticated topics of Middle School Humanities. PNA’s program is strongly influenced by the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies C3 Framework.
we believe that a major component of a high- quality science curriculum is the development of an in-depth understanding of content. Following the most up-to- date, research-based Next Generation Science Standards, students work through major topics in life science, earth and space science, and physical science each year. The performance expectations in each discipline develop ideas and skills that will allow students to explain the more complex phenomenon in the three disciplines as they progress through middle school and high school.
We also believe that the practice and application of science are just as important as content. Engaging in the practices of science helps students understand how scientific knowledge develops and gives them an appreciation of the wide range of approaches that are used to investigate, model, and explain the world. The actual doing of science can also pique studentsâ€™ curiosity, capture their interest, and motivate their continued study. These experiences enable students to recognize that the work of scientists and engineers is a creative endeavor. The eight practices: asking questions and defining problems; developing and using models; planning and carrying out investigations; analyzing and interpreting data; using mathematics and computational thinking; constructing explanations and designing solutions; engaging in argument from evidence; obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information, are based on an analysis of what professional scientist and engineers do. Students develop these skills each year and the practice increases in complexity and sophistication. For example, the science notebook that captures observations and questions for a Kindergarten is radically different than that of an eighth grader; however, both students are practicing a skill that true scientists utilize.
This combined approach of content and practices produce students who are prepared and ready to enter science and engineering fields in higher education settings and later in their careers.