Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA)
Scholars in grades Kindergarten through 5th grade use the Core Knowledge Language Arts program. The Skills strand of CKLA teaches reading and writing in tandem. Children practice blending (reading) and segmenting (spelling) using the sound spellings they have learned. Decodable stories are introduced in the sixth of the ten units for kindergarten. Stories are 100% decodable—made up entirely of words and sound spellings the scholars have been taught, or “tricky words” that also have been explicitly taught. Handwriting, spelling, and the writing process are addressed in the Skills strand. The Listening & Learning strand lessons, comprised of teacher read-alouds, class discussion, vocabulary work, and extension activities, build on the research finding that scholars’ listening comprehension outpaces their reading comprehension throughout elementary school.
Chapter Book Studies
Classroom chapter book studies follow the Paideia Seminar supporting the quarterly unit of study and include rigorous and relevant writing. All grades – second through eight – should study at least one chapter book per quarter.
- Second Grade: Frog and Toad; Sarah Plain and Tall; My Father’s Dragon; Martin Luther King Jr and the March on Washington; The Stories Julian Tells
- Third Grade: Dear Mr. Henshaw; Shiloh; Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH; and The BFG
- Fourth Grade: Call It Courage; Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane; Bud Not Buddy; Because of Winn Dixie; Island of the Blue Dophins; Number the Stars; The Westing Game
- Fifth Grade: Pedro’s Journal; Sign of the Beaver; Where the Red Fern Grows; Touching Spirit Bear; Numbering the Bones
- Sixth Grade: The Cay; My Side of the Mountain; Granny Torreli Makes Soup; The Watsons Go to Birminham: 1963; Esperanza Rising; A Wrinkle in Time; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
The EngageNY ELA curriculum is used in grades 6-8 to advance scholars’ mastery of the College and Career Ready ELA Standards and Common Core shift. The modules are separated into four critical skill sets: Becoming a Close Reader and Writing to Learn; Researching to Build Knowledge and Teach Others; Considering Perspectives and Supporting Opinions; Gathering Evidence and Speaking to Others.
Singapore Math uses the Concrete, to Pictorial, to Abstract approach. The scholars are provided with the necessary learning experiences beginning with the concrete and pictorial stages, followed by the abstract stage to enable them to learn mathematics meaningfully. This approach encourages active thinking process, communication of mathematical ideas and problem solving. The books emphasize mental math and the model drawing approach. Singapore Math’s mathematical framework identifies five key aspects of mathematical learning as essential:
- Estimation, mental calculation, arithmetic and algebraic manipulation, and handling of data skills;
- Numerical, geometrical, algebraic, and statistical concepts;
- Processes, or thinking skills;
- Metacognition, the monitoring of one’s own thinking; and
- Attitudes regarding mathematics, including interest, confidence, and perseverance.
Storybooks featuring children from a variety of cultures and backgrounds introduce students to an engineering problem. Students are then challenged to solve a problem similar to that faced by the storybook character. Through a hands-on engineering design challenge, students work in teams to apply their knowledge of science and mathematics; use their inquiry and problem-solving skills; and tap their creativity as they design, create, and improve possible solutions. In the end, students realize that everyone can engineer!
The Engineering is Elementary project also helps elementary school educators enhance their understanding of engineering concepts and pedagogy through professional development workshops and resources.
Music and Visual Arts
The music and visual arts program follows the Arizona State Standards for Music and Visual Arts and the Core Knowledge Sequence, which emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to Music and Art History by introducing scholars to key movements of different historical periods. Scholars will gain an appreciation for the interpretation of art, issues and viewpoints about art, understand the styles, influences and themes in art, and the historical and cultural contexts in which the art was created. Scholars attend music and art class at least once per week.
The physical education program aligns with the standards outlined for each grade level in the Arizona State Physical Education Standards. Using the Presidential Fitness Curriculum scholars will build an appreciation for the elements of physical fitness. Scholars attend physical education class at least once per week, building on skills to help promote physical well being and health.