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Our Approach

Memorable. Interconnected. Empowering.

A Commons education is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We bring a diverse group of young people together to learn and grow with one another and give them the tools to shape a better future for us all.

 Learning That Matters

  • Strong Foundational Curriculum
    BCCS provides a rigorous curriculum that is demanding yet accessible and that builds both content knowledge and critical-thinking skills. Our selected curricula are research-based and described briefly below: ELA: EL K-5 English Language Arts excels in text quality, knowledge building, standards alignment, and usability. It develops foundational literacy through structured phonics while also providing comprehensive English units that allow students to delve deeply into topics and connect their studies to their communities. Math: Bridges Mathematics provides a focused, rigorous, and aligned curriculum that uses robust visual modeling to support students in developing understandings of mathematical concepts, proficiency with essential skills, and the ability to solve complex problems through mathematical practices. Innovations (Science): Project Lead the Way is aligned to meet Next Generation Science Standards and uses proven teaching strategies and a hands-on approach to achieve consistent, positive classroom results. Community Studies (Social Studies): Based on the highly successful Integrated Studies at Community Roots Charter School, the curriculum is aligned to social studies and literacy standards. The curriculum interweaves critical literacy strategies, anti-bias, and equity and inclusion concepts in a structured scope and sequence.
  • Cutting-Edge Instruction
    Our instructional vision brings together the work of Marzano’s Classroom Instruction that Works, Antonetti’s 17,000 Classroom Visits Can’t Be Wrong, Hammond’s Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, and Bambrick-Santoyo’s Get Better Faster. The synthesis of these approaches creates learning environments that emphasize students' belonging, high academic expectations, and culturally responsive teaching techniques, significantly increasing student achievement and engagement. Our focus on classroom culture, high expectations, and culturally responsive practices create shared values and a shared vocabulary for teachers and instructional leaders that ensure our instruction includes strong differentiation, robust opportunities for higher-order thinking, and relevant methods for our diverse student body. All faculty participate in our rigorous professional development program to achieve this instructional vision. Additionally, teachers are partnered in collaborative teams to plan, teach, monitor student progress, and manage classroom culture. Collaboration provides a strategy to meet the needs of our diverse student body in a targeted way. For example, we will use Marilyn Friend’s six co-teaching models to offer parallel instruction to two smaller groups of students within one class, differentiated by student ability.
  • Critical and Creative Thinking Development
    Critical thinking and creative problem-solving are interwoven throughout our curricula, and we specifically offer science and social studies courses which bolster students’ academic and 21st century skills, as well as their creative problem-solving skills through a blend of project-based learning and design-thinking methods. Driven by our core values, these courses regularly provide real-world, community-based, problem-solving experiences that link students with the shared goals of contributing to their community. For example, kindergarten students study families in community studies, with the unit culminating in a project that asks students to reflect on their family, and create a presentation that includes bringing in a member of the family to share about important values, elements of culture, and traditions. Projects like these require mastery of content, critical thinking, the ability to analyze different perspectives, as well as collaboration and leadership skills. More broadly, coursework like this benefits students’ academics and engagement. Academically, when compared to traditional instruction, this type of coursework can increase long-term retention of content, help students perform as well or better on high-stakes tests, and improve problem-solving and collaboration skills. Additionally, it is effective in diverse settings and can help reduce the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and their peers. Lastly, students engaged in project-based learning exhibit greater engagement, are more self-reliant, and have better attendance than in more traditional settings.
  • Value-Driven School Culture
    We create an inclusive school culture by promoting the core values listed briefly below: Respect:We appreciate each person and their story through our words, actions, and attitudes. We value others’ unique perspectives and treat them with dignity. Integrity: We act and speak with honesty, fairness, and thoughtfulness. We consistently align our words and actions. Curiosity: We are eager to learn, question, and explore. Hard Work: We put our best effort into everything we do. Core values are posted throughout the school and in each classroom. They are interwoven throughout the school year through a social-emotional learning (SEL) program, intentional school culture building and discipline practices, and our engagement of families as partners.
  • Partnering With Families
    We encourage family engagement at every chance we get. We know that children with an at-home adult engaged in their school life have stronger attendance, academic achievement, and connection to the school community. Importantly, we engage each family shortly after enrollment. The initial visit is centered on relationship building, understanding the student and family needs, and introducing our core values. Subsequently, our families stay engaged through student our unique Community Open Work program that brings the expertise and passions of parents and guardians to life and student-led conferences, newsletters, workshops, and celebrations.
  • Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum
    BCCS uses the evidence-based SEL program, Caring School Community (CSC), to help foster our core values, teach specific social-emotional skills, and build relationships among the school community. CSC can improve students’ academic performance, increase positive social behavior, and reduce conduct problems. CSC includes the following elements: Daily Opening and Closing Circles: Students practice social skills and get to know one another. Weekly Class Meetings: Students address common concerns and current issues Weekly Home Connection Activities: Students engage in structured talk with family members about the social development focus of the week. Cross-age Buddies Activities: Students work together in structured activities with older or younger students in other grades.
  • Purpose Projects
    The Commons educational experience is separated into three three-year phases (grade bands of K-2, 3-5, and 6-8). In the 2nd, 5th, and 8th grades, as part of the culmination of each phase, students participate in a Purpose Project. The project explores each student's current answers to The Big Three Questions and is presented to an audience of peers, teachers, and loved ones. Purpose Projects are a time of celebration for each student and our community.
  • The Big Three Questions
    At Commons, we believe that finding a sense of purpose centers around three key questions. Our students repeatedly reflect on these questions in a variety of ways throughout their educational experience. What Do I Love? What does each student do or experience that brings them the most joy in life and makes them feel most alive and fulfilled? What students love in this sense might be building things, sharing stories, playing sports, singing their hearts out, reading great books, spending time with friends, etc. We must allow students to think deeply about what they love, without any concern for whether they are good at it or whether the world needs it. What Am I Great At? We ask students to identify what they are particularly good at - skills they’ve learned, hobbies they're pursuing, talents they’ve shown since an early age, etc. What a student is great at might be, for example, being good with numbers, being empathetic, public speaking, leading a team, expressing ideas in writing, or visual arts and design. This sphere encompasses talents or capabilities, whether or not a student is passionate about them or whether the world needs them. What Does the World Need? The “world” here might be humanity as a whole, the Commons community, a community outside of school that a student is in touch with, or anything in between. What the world needs might be based on student impressions or needs expressed by others. The world’s needs might include skilled nursing, clean water, home heating, election day volunteers, or more small business owners. This domain connects students most explicitly with other people and doing good for them beyond one’s own needs. We believe the “sweet spot” of Purpose involves finding the intersection between something each student is passionate about, that they are also good at, and that the world needs. We want this for every child.
  • Does Commons cost money?
    No. We are a tuition-free public charter school. Anyone can attend!
  • Where are you located?
    833 Michigan Ave. | 3rd Floor Buffalo, NY 14203
  • What grades do you serve?
  • Do you offer busing?
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