Language & Literacy
Students develop literacy skills through rich, interactive, and varied experiences with literature.
We use a dynamic and multi-sensory approach to learning and reviewing phonics. Components include: stories, songs, poems, body motions, and visual representations.
Individualized Reading Programs
Students are offered a leveled reading program according to their ability level. We use a multi-curriculum approach. Students have the opportunity to choose their own books to read. The local librarian comes to our classrooms and we take monthly field trips to the library. Students read individually and/or with partners and to the teacher daily. The teacher assesses individual progress and supports each student’s continued growth through individual instruction.
Reading at Home
Research confirms that children become more engaged and competent readers when they read at least 20 minutes a day. When parents read actively with their child at home, they strengthen their child’s abilities as a reader, along with building reading fluency and comprehension.
Listening to fiction and non-fiction stories being read aloud continues to be an important part of gaining literacy skills throughout the elementary years. Being read to from books which are at least 2 years ahead of a student’s reading ability helps the student gain a more elaborate understanding of vocabulary, elements of a story, and problem solving. This also allows the student to engage in rich, complex literature.
Writing is a complex task that includes forming letters, applying phonetic knowledge, using correct grammar, and following a writing process. Beginning writers most often write about themselves and what is happening around them.
More advanced writers participate in many forms of writing including writing letters, poetry, lists, charts, fiction, and informational writing.
Students are offered an individualized spelling program that accommodates their current reading and writing levels. Spelling lists are created based on specific word patterns and the student’s individual reading and writing curriculum.
Cultural ideas and contributions from around the world are discovered in many ways. Learning is acquired through songs, stories, maps, books, newspapers, magazines, interviews, plays, study of current events, field trips, library research, and the internet. Students produce projects and present them in a variety of ways. These projects demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of cultural ideas and social studies concepts and skills. Students explore similarities and differences among people, environments, communities, and geographical locations. Examples of current themes include Neighborhoods, Maps, Elections, and the American Revolution.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Children learn key concepts through active engagement in solving problems, understanding relationships, and constructing their own meaning. Students are encouraged to be inventive and bring their own ideas to the learning process.
Curiosity is the essence of the young mind. Students have so many questions and are eager to investigate answers. We foster that curiosity by providing an engaging and enriching science curriculum, including FOSS kits. We investigate several different themes throughout the year, such as the Human Body, Biomes, Matter, and Life Cycles. We provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and interests in our annual Science Fair.
Technology is incorporated into learning activities throughout the day. We use iPads, laptops, LEGO robotics, and the Smart Board to provide experience with current technology. Students also interact with various adaptive online programs to enhance their learning.
Students use mathematical concepts and scientific principles to design, create and evaluate hands-on engineering projects. Students are able to work individually and/or in teams to build on each other’s ideas, enhance critical thinking and improve problem solving skills.
Hands-on experiences are at the core of developing mathematical concepts. Therefore, important concepts and skills are explored and practiced daily using various curricula, including McGraw Hill and Front Row. We focus on process-oriented thinking, computational skills, and problem solving.
Art, Music, and Health & Fitness
Practice and appreciation of the arts includes self-expression, learning concepts and elements of art, and exploring various media. Students are exposed to great works of art and produce their own masterpieces.
Music appreciation is an integral part of our introduction to the arts. We listen to a variety of composers and types of music. Music from different ethnicities is brought in to deepen understanding of particular cultures. Students learn a variety of songs, rhythm activities and dances , and they participate in creating their own verses to songs. Daily practice of music fosters children’s development in language, social interaction, and mathematics.
Health and Fitness
Our program includes cooperative and competitive games and sports, multicultural games, and activities such as basketball, soccer, tennis, dance, Cross Country, and ice skating. Our goal is to encourage all of our students to participate, learn new skills, promote sportsmanship, and benefit from a healthy, active lifestyle.
Each student’s progress in all the academic curriculum areas discussed above, as well as Spanish and characteristics of a successful learner, is evaluated by classroom teachers and specialists three times a year. Parents review and discuss their children’s progress during formal conferences twice a year, at which they receive their children’s progress reports. Teachers use a variety of assessment tools in the classroom as well, including portfolios and long-term projects.
Students’ academic progress is also measured by selected standardized tests. Our second grade students take the Iowa Test of Basic Skills in the spring. The ITBS measures literacy, math, and science/technology skills. Students in third through sixth grade take the Smarter Balanced Assessments in the spring to measure their skills in English language arts and math. Finally, North Wall fifth grade students take the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science, also administered in the spring.