Ben Franklin Academy (BFA) provides a rigorous educational program that challenges each student at his/her own level. The Core Knowledge Sequence – with an emphasis on math, science, and literacy – combined with programming for music, art, physical education and character education constitute the backbone of BFA’s academic program.
Core Knowledge Sequence
BFA’s rigorous academic program is based on the Core Knowledge Sequence for all grade levels. The Core Knowledge Sequence is a research-based program founded on the premise that a grade-by-grade core of common learning is necessary to ensure a sound and complete elementary education. The sequence was developed by Dr. E.D. Hirsch, Jr. to provide a solid, specific and shared core curriculum in order to help children establish strong foundations of knowledge. Students learn new knowledge by building upon what they already know. The Core Knowledge Sequence defines the knowledge and skills students will master at each grade level. Core Knowledge At A Glance provides an excellent overview of the Core Knowledge Sequence for preschool through eighth grade.
BFA also utilizes Pearson Learning Core Knowledge History and Geography in sixth grade to teach key history and geography topics at each consecutive level. In grades seven and eight, BFA students continue to follow the Core Knowledge Sequence and use the The American Journey.
Emphasis on Math
Saxon Math (Saxon) is implemented as BFA’s mathematics program in kindergarten through eighth grade. Saxon’s innovative, instructional approach breaks complex concepts into simpler increments, recognizing that smaller pieces of information are easier to learn and teach. It involves teaching a new mathematical concept and constantly reviewing old concepts. BFA uses Pearson to teach algebra and geometry in advanced math classes.
Emphasis on Science
BFA has implemented a hands-on science curriculum that actively engages its students in a broad science program through the implementation of the Core Knowledge science sequence, supplemented by Prentice Hall Science Explorer (grades 6-8).
Science is taught daily at BFA and BFA’s facility has two science labs — one utilized by the elementary grades and one used by the middle school classes — to reinforce the materials learned in the traditional classroom. In addition, BFA annually hosts a Science Expo in the fall to inspire its students to be scientists and its middle school science fair in the winter to showcase student projects.
Emphasis on Literacy
BFA believes that an effective language arts program is critical to the education of each child. Students must develop the skills of reading, writing and communication in order to find success in all areas of their education. BFA uses the following curricula to support its emphasis on literacy:
BFA students in grade six through eight use the Core Knowledge Sequence and Grammar and Writing by Curtis and Hake. Like the Core Knowledge Sequence and Saxon, Grammar and Writing uses incremental development and continual review, increasing in depth and complexity as the students progress through the material. BFA students also challenge themselves in writing through the added combination of Step Up to Writing and 6+1 Traits. Step Up to Writing focuses on the several processes that operate together for successful writing: planning, translation and revision. 6+1 Traits is a program that teaches the seven characteristics of writing on which students need to focus: ideas; organization; voice; word choice; sentence fluency; conventions; and presentations.
Character development is an integral part of BFA’s mission statement and BFA provides character education founded on Benjamin Franklin’s Thirteen Virtues. While the specifics of his virtues are particular to his time, place and need, they have been modified for the times and needs of BFA’s students, as appropriate for a public school and for each grade. The Thirteen Virtues and illustrative explanations can be found here.
BFA’s middle school offers honors classes in math, language arts, science and social studies. Students who have a achieved a high level of academics, as well as accountability, will be invited to participate in honors classes. These classes offer a more in-depth study of the grade-level curriculum. The students develop critical thinking and analysis skills necessary to be successful in an honors track in high school.