Lower School Curriculum
Lower School Curriculum
Using a combination of Guided Reading, Reading Workshop, and Fundations, lower school students learn to read by being immersed in quality literature of all genres, from picture books to novels. Additionally, they learn rules for the way in which words are spelled and fluency strategies in order to maximize comprehension. Teachers are careful to match texts to readers and frequently read with children to assess progress with accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. Students experience literature in multiple ways: read alouds, partner reading, literature groups, individual reading, books clubs, and so on. Students become writers through a variety of writing models such as Writing Workshop, interactive writing, word studies, and the Six Traits of Quality Writing, to name a few. Grammar, spelling, penmanship, vocabulary, keyboarding, and oral speaking lessons are intentionally and authentically integrated into student literacy experiences. Teachers use a wide range of resources for Language Arts instruction, such as Fountas and Pinnell resources and text leveling, Reading and Writing Workshop resources, children’s literature (fiction, non-fiction, and poetry), Six Traits of Quality Writing, Writer’s Express Series, Great Source Vocabulary for Achievement, Ridgewood Grammar, Daily Oral Language, Type-to-Learn 4 Keyboarding Program, Fundations, Words their Way, Words Matter, and Lessons in Literacy.
Teachers use both Everyday Mathematics and Singapore Math to help children build a strong mathematical foundation, as well as a wide range of math games, math manipulatives, and professional math resources. Basic facts are individualized and practiced routinely. Everyday Mathematics is a comprehensive pre-K through grade 6 mathematics program developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project and published by McGraw-Hill Education. This curriculum fosters conceptual understanding and problem-solving skills in arithmetic, data, probability, geometry, algebra, measurement, and functions. Other goals of the Everyday Mathematics curriculum include the following:
- Mathematics is linked to everyday situations;
- Past experiences are linked to new concepts and provide for ongoing, spaced review;
- Students have multiple experiences with partner and small-group activities;
- Many activities are hands-on activities and exploration-based;
- Fact power is built through daily oral practice, conceptual activities, and games;
- Students are encouraged to use and share of multiple strategies;
- Students are provided a wide variety of assessment opportunities; and
- Home-school partnerships are encouraged.
Learn more about the content strands, program goals, and grade level goals of the Everyday Mathematics curriculum.
Problem solving is the central idea in the Singapore Math curriculum. Their math framework involves the acquisition and application of mathematical concepts and skills in a wide range of situations, including non-routine, open-ended, and real-world problems. The development of mathematical problem solving ability is dependent on five inter-related components:
- Concepts - numerical, algebraic, geometric, statistical, probabilistic, and analytical;
- Skills - numerical calculation, algebraic manipulation, spatial visualization, data analysis, measurement, use of mathematical tools, and estimation;
- Process - reasoning, communication, connections, thinking skills, heuristics, application, and modeling;
- Attitudes - beliefs, interest, appreciation, confidence, and perseverance; and
- Metacognition - monitoring of one’s own thinking and self-regulation of learning.
View the correlation of the Singapore Math curriculum to the Core Standards.
The Scott Foreman Social Studies program is used as a foundational curriculum to teach students what it means to be citizens of this nation – that respect, caring, responsibility, fairness, courage, and honesty are the pillars that make us strong. Program components include “Here We Go” (K), “All Together” (1st), “People and Places” (2nd), “Communities” (3rd), “Regions” (4th), and “The United States” (5th). Each program includes student experiences with history, geography, citizenship, economics, government, and conservation. Teachers also use Great Source Daily Geography and various supplemental resources and literature. Each grade level focuses on one continent for a year-long study to accompany CIS’s commitment to its global perspectives curriculum.
The science curriculum emphasizes a hands-on and minds-on approach to learning. Students are actively engaged in the scientific processes of observing, communicating, classifying, measuring, inferring, and predicting. The young scientists learn to connect science experiences to their background experiences, observe how human nature influences science, and to experience science and technology in their daily lives. Children are encouraged to examine social issues, solve real problems, and make decisions. Students use a variety of equipment, materials, and technology throughout their scientific investigations.
The music curriculum is based on the Silver Burkett Making Music series. Students learn to perform steady beat, read and write rhythms, play a variety of percussion instruments, understand the use of rests, accents, staccato, and identify whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, and dotted notes. Beginning in the first grade, students are given a recorder which they use in class to practice these skills. They distinguish loud and soft, high and low, and intervals. Students learn the note names on a keyboard and learn to play notes from the treble and bass clefs. They will identify dynamic and tempo markings. They also study the life and music of composers and musicians from the Baroque period to the present. The drama curriculum is based on Acting One and Improvisation Starters. Students use theater exercises like “Play To Win,” “Location,” “Party,” and “Guesstures” to enhance their acting skills. The goal is to develop believable characters on stage.
The art curriculum includes a study of two to three master artists’ works originally from grade level continents of study, respect and care for art space in connection with increasingly complex materials and projects, the four major art forms (still life, landscape, portrait, and non-objective) and the elements of Art (line, color, texture, space, value, shape, and form) and Principles of Design (balance, pattern, repetition, and emphasis). Student artists are encouraged to draw/work from their imagination, other artists’ works, and nature to create original works of art. Students participate in art class twice each week.
Students are encouraged to be physically active and inspired to lead healthy lives. Curriculum content includes personal fitness, healthy and active living, body and spatial awareness, fundamental movement, skills and games, rhythm and dance. Curriculum is aligned with the NASPE Standards for Physical Education and the Show-Me Standards for Physical Education. Students participate in PE three times each week.
Columbia Independent School requires all students to learn one of three modern languages: French, Mandarin, or Spanish. Students in Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten are introduced to the modern language as they rotate through each during the course of the year. Beginning in first grade, students elect one language to study through fifth grade. Teachers use multiple resources and curriculum to meet individual needs, such as graded readers, authentic texts and videos, cultural realia, and Total Physical Response (TPR). Modern Language instruction takes place two-three times weekly according to grade level. By the end of the 5th grade year, our departmental goal is to have students reach the Novice Mid to Novice High range of proficiency. Students should be able to express him/herself in conversations on very familiar topics using a variety of words, phrases and simple sentences, and questions that have been highly practiced and memorized.
Student goals include:
- To be introduced to a new language and to build strong appreciation and understanding of the target language;
- To hear and respond to simple directions in the target language;
- To develop and/or improve their skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing in the target language;
- To produce oral language by imitating, singing, rhyming, and responding with learned words and phrases;
- To exchange basic information and interact with peers, using phrases and complete sentences;
- To accept and embrace other languages and cultures;
- To develop competency in a language other than English;
- To expand their understanding of another culture; and
- To increase their awareness of their own language.