Our English/Language Arts curriculum is created by the nonprofit research group the Center for Collaborative Classroom. Their curriculum combines the best practices of years of research and is combined into three parts, Being a Reader, Making Meaning and Being a Writer. Kindergarten through Grade 2 use all three pieces of the curriculum, Grades 3, 4 and 5 utilize the Making Meaning and Being a Writer.
Being a Reader is the first piece of the curriculum which integrates reading instruction with the social learning needed to build a caring classroom community. The curriculum teaches foundational skills in the context of rich literacy experiences that foster students’ growth as responsible, caring and collaborative people. This program combines the strengths of whole-class and small-group instruction to develop confident readers who love to read, understand what they read, and can discuss their ideas and opinions with others. The curriculum uses authentic literature and is leveled to meet each child specific needs.
Making Meaning is the second piece of the curriculum. In Making Meaning, children begin to understand reading as an interactive process that involves thinking, questioning, discussing, rereading, and responding to texts. Making Meaning lessons are designed to illuminate student thinking about literature and support the development of critical thinking. This piece of the curriculum focuses heavily on comprehension and vocabulary. The curriculum intentionally combines academics with social and emotional learning to create an environment in which students learn to collaborate, agree and disagree respectfully, and take responsibility for their own learning.
The third piece to the curriculum is Being a Writer. Being a Writer teaches children to write with conviction and purpose, for multiple audiences and to demonstrate their understanding. Creating classroom experiences that develop a love of writing and allow children to express their thinking requires thoughtful and intentional instruction. Using authentic children’s literature, the program provides support for creating a Collaborative Classroom environment where teachers facilitate student discussion, provide a model for the respectful exchange of ideas, and help students develop their own voice.
Our math curriculum is Math in Focus, the Singapore Method. The Singapore method focuses on mastery of specific concepts at a very deep level. Students do not just learn equations or algorithms to reach an answer, they learn how the equations works. Another focus is in the building of the skills, like building the layers and foundation of a house. Each skill, taught to mastery, is then ready for another “brick” or concept to be added. The scope and sequence in Math in Focus is advanced with a major focus on preparing students for success in algebra and beyond. Consequently, algebraic thinking and expressions are introduced early and used frequently throughout the curriculum. The curriculum progresses through a specific and developmentally appropriate sequence from concrete, to pictorial, to abstract. Word problems, practical application problems and critical thinking activities included in the curriculum frequently draw on a wide range of mathematical knowledge. The goal of Math in Focus is to teach concepts so thoroughly that frequent review is unnecessary. The Math in Focus curriculum truly challenges students to think much more deeply about mathematics.
The science curriculum, Science and Technology for Children published by Carolina Biological Supply Company, continues to challenge our students. The Science and Technology for Children curriculum provides hands-on experiences to engage elementary students in the process of science education. This curriculum introduces students to life, earth, physical science and technology at the Kindergarten through the fifth grade level. Developed by leaders in the fields of both science and education from the National Science Resource Center, which is operated by the Smithsonian Institution, this curriculum was created to raise the level of science teaching by motivating children with interesting age appropriate experimentation. Our faculty and students love exploring the different units of study within the curriculum. Our beautiful state of the art science lab continues to be enjoyed by students in Kindergarten through 5th. Students explore “hands on” science in a room equipped for this purpose.
My World social studies by Pearson provide students in Kindergarten through 5th grade the opportunity to connect experiences and understanding. Through engaging digital courseware, interactive student work texts and hands-on activities, students are able to attain meaningful understanding of the past, present and future. Lower School faculty enhances our social studies current events curriculum through the use of websites, “you tube” videos and periodic magazines. Additional we have added DBQ’s to enrich our social studies program.
DBQs by the DBQ Project – Document Based Questions are part of the curriculum for Grades 2, 3, 4 and 5. This curriculum supports the belief that all students can develop high-level critical thinking skills if they have consistent instruction and a chance to practice. This curriculum’s engaging questions and use of primary and secondary sources give students the opportunity to investigate history from a variety of perspectives. The flexible pedagogy supports discussion and debate as students clarify their own ideas and write evidence-based arguments. Learning this way not only deepens student understanding of history, it also builds reading, thinking, and writing skills. The curricular roots of this curriculum come from the AP History Exams.
Other pieces of our curriculum include Thinking Maps, Write from the Beginning and Beyond, Handwriting without Tears, and Building Blocks.