A Day at PCA Middle School
“Go to cell A11. Is everybody there? Ok, let’s get ready to move the formula over so we can figure out the average number for each month here. Click and drag the formula to the new cells. Yes. Who needs help? Ok, are we ready to figure out your grade averages for all your exams? We can also do the average amount of rain per month in the rain forest this way... And we also know how to do the payroll formulas on, Excel too. Ok, let’s graph those grade averages. Which kind of graph will you use? Ok, let’s add a title to the chart, let me show you how...”
How many of us learned to use Excel formulas in 6th grade? How many of us are still learning how to do this? At Power Center Academy, this is a typical lesson. Another typical lesson would be a formal debate between students on the influence of advertisement in the media on children: pro, con, rebuttal, etc. The power to learn new information, think about varying viewpoints, make a persuasive case and effectively communicate it, are all expectations at Power Center Academy. Debate is infused into lessons for all grades. At Gestalt, you have to know enough to have an opinion, and then you must be prepared to convince others. And the scholar must argue the point without being disagreeable.
So, how can Power Center Academy achieve this level of critical thinking and deep content with its scholars? Power Center Academy maintains several critical elements of its academic design consistent across grade levels and across different communities, including:
- High expectations for achievement
- College preparatory focus
- Meaningful community service
- Project-based learning
- Data-driven accountability
- High technology usage
The root of the Power Center Academy academic design is to utilize the full day to present challenging content in many subjects while also providing enrichment subjects. Power Center Academy teaches English Language Arts and mathematics for full mastery, but it also makes the time for many other subjects such as logic, the media, business ethics, etc. At Power Center Academy, observers will not find long instructional scheduling blocks focused on just a few topics; instead, the classes are scheduled to use all instructional time in the day and move through content in a variety of classes each day. This offers scholars more opportunities to be motivated and more time to apply their learning immediately. With this type of schedule, there is no “slack time” at the Power Center Academy day.
Power Center Academy's project-based learning is infused with technology, as scholars demonstrate higher order thinking skills. An example of a project may be a basic trigonometry lesson tied to the project of developing rockets to launch as the real life application. Another example may be a pre-algebra lesson tied to a project that allows scholars to show their mastery of Excel formulas. Projects are created for target audiences, include multiple learning standards, and scholars demonstrate mastery in completing them. Technology is not just a subject at Power Center Academy, it is a method of doing all work and so it is woven into all subjects.