Heritage Junior High is a classroom-based Traditional Learning option for grades seven and eight. At this stage, our role is to take students who have acquired fundamental knowledge in elementary school and help them develop the critical thinking skills they will need as they move on to high school. Our curriculum is rigorous, but that rigor is necessary to prepare them for the challenging academics at Escondido Charter High School.
Focus on Fundamentals
Even as students are introduced to higher-order thinking, we remain committed to a focus on fundamentals. Reading and writing are essential to academic success, so we emphasize both. Heritage Junior High uses a Great Books curriculum in its literature class and requires an additional course in academic writing for all students. For math, we use the Saxon method, which is the same method used in our elementary and high schools, giving our students a seamless transition from one school to the next. We teach physical science and earth science and help our students to understand the scientific method. Our history classes focus on western civilization and U.S. history. We believe it is imperative for our students to understand the roots of our uniquely American culture, so they can place current events in perspective. We offer enrichment courses in the arts and curricular clubs to help round out each student's experience.
The manner in which we use technology in the classroom - in what we call a “blended” environment - is one of the unique features of Heritage Junior High. Blended classes utilize technology to teach the factual content, giving teachers more time to spend with their students face to face, developing critical-thinking and logic skills. The interactive electronic lessons can be accessed from anywhere, so students can prepare for class while at home and then participate in discussions or activities about the material with their teacher in the classroom. Of course, not all subjects are suited for a blended environment. We have found that the natural and social sciences are the two areas where we get the most gain using the blended approach. Math, Great Books, and academic writing rely heavily on personal interaction with the teacher in the classroom where the teacher has a chance to evaluate the learning process continuously.
During the day, students attend a Math Lab class, which provides a second opportunity for students to work on their math homework and receive individual assistance from their teacher. In addition, tutorials are offered after school, four days a week, for every academic course. Students can attend tutorials to finish homework, work on group projects, or ask for assistance. Students who are falling behind will be asked to attend tutorials, where they have the opportunity to catch up with assistance from a teacher.