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Curriculum Overview

Curriculum Overview

 

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE ELEMENTARY CURRICULUM

Eastchester elementary school students are engaged in a cohesive, comprehensive and developmentally appropriate education in Kindergarten through grade five.   The philosophy of the elementary program is to provide a balanced program that emphasizes the importance of mastering basic skills, concepts, and strategies that provide a firm foundation for developing critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills.   Instruction is designed to meet the learning needs of all children as they strive to meet or exceed the New York State Learning Standards and achieve academic excellence.   Within the curriculum are our district graduation goals.   The elementary program guides students to reach their academic and creative potential.   We are committed to supporting the intellectual, emotional, physical, and social growth of every student in a nurturing and positive learning environment built on respect.  

The elementary curriculum is aligned to the New York State Learning Standards and the new state-mandated assessments (examinations).   The standards define the expectations set for all students.   Classroom learning experiences are directly related to the state standards and expectations.

Student achievement is assessed by a combination of individual student work, student projects, teacher observation, formal testing, standardized testing in the Spring, and state assessments.   Teachers use assessment data to identify each child's strengths and needs, and to provide information that can be shared with students and parents regarding each student's progress.   These evaluations are also used to plan and revise curriculum and instruction.  

New York State Assessments

Students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in meeting the New York State Learning Standards in English, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies on new assessments being phased in at the elementary, middle school (intermediate), and high school (commencement) levels.   Proficiency in meeting these standards is measured on the following state assessments administered to students in grades 4 and 5.   Parents will receive a comprehensive description of their child's achievement on these assessments.

Assessment

Grade Level

Time of Year Administered

English Language Arts (ELA)

 

3,4,5

 

April

 

 

Mathematics

 

3,4, 5

 

May

 

 

Elementary Science

 

4

 

 

May and June

 

Social Studies

 

5

 

 

November

Academic Intervention Services (AIS)

Students who do not meet the state standards and score below the designated level of performance on a state assessment taken in grade 4 will receive academic support in grade 5.   Support programs are designed to help students gain the competencies to meet the state standards and achieve academic success in Language Arts and/or Mathematics.   Instruction is usually given in a small group setting to meet the individual needs of students.   These programs are part of the district's Academic Intervention Services (AIS).  

Students in grades 1-4 who are identified by multiple measures as needing ademic support will receive intervention to help them gain the competencies to meet the standards and be successful on the assessments administered in grade 4.

ELEMENTARY ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS PROGRAM  

The ability to communicate requires mastery of reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.   These are interrelated skills and are integral parts of everything students do in the elementary grades.   Our English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum and the instructional program focus on an integrated approach to learning and using language effectively in all content areas.   Beginning in kindergarten, teachers create communication-rich environments as students learn the basic skills, strategies, concepts, and behaviors that promote literacy and help students to become competent and enthusiastic readers, writers, speakers and listeners.   The elementary

ELA program reflects the New York State Learning Standards and Assessments.   Each student's progress toward meeting the standards is measured on the New York State English Language Arts Assessment that s administered to fourth grade students in early February.

Reading

The goals of our reading program are to instill in each child a love of reading and the ability to comprehend a variety of written texts. The reading program guides students through the processes of learning to read and reading to learn . At each grade level there is a comprehensive

curriculum that stresses the reading skills and strategies that students need to acquire to become successful lifelong readers.  

Students read a wide variety of genres by many different authors.  

In grades K-2, students learn to read .   They are taught the concepts or conventions of print such as reading from left to right, phonemic awareness, decoding skills (phonics, syllabication), and how to employ different strategies to become fluent readers and learn to gain meaning from text.   The curriculum in the primary grades provides a balanced reading program and utilizes the Open Court Reading Program , as well as dditional grade-appropriate literature that supports the curriculum.  

When children enter the third grade, the curriculum begins to emphasize strategies for reading to learn .   Students learn how to gain information from a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts for specific purposes.   They compare, contrast, categorize, analyze, and synthesize information from these sources in order to draw conclusions.   These critical reading skills re stressed throughout all curriculum areas in grades 3-5.  

Grades 3-5 utilize Scott Foresman Reading as the major component of the reading program.   The anthologies include a balance of award-winning, classic, and favorite selections from a rich variety of genres. Additional fiction and non-fiction literature is used in classrooms to support the curriculum. All grades are supported with a Balanced Literacy Program.

Writing

Writing is an integral part of the elementary school day.   Children write at all grade levels and in all disciplines.   We want students to enjoy writing and think of themselves as writers.   Students write for a variety of purposes and express themselves through numerous formats.   Literature also serves as a model and inspiration for writing.   Writing skills including grammar, mechanics, usage, and spelling are stressed. Students actively engage in the writing process through instruction and practice.   They learn to prewrite, draft, revise (make the content better), edit (correct errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage), and publish.

 

Listening

Skillful listening in elementary school is very important since young students are able to listen at a higher cognitive level than they can read.   Listening has a significant impact on a student's learning.   The ability to listen effectively enables students to gain information and connect prior knowledge to new concepts.   Teachers provide students with a variety of developmentally appropriate listening experiences in all areas of the curriculum.

Speaking

Within the elementary program, students are taught how to become effective speakers.   Learning to clearly communicate thoughts, ideas, and feelings to an audience is an important skill for every child.   To develop these skills, students have frequent opportunities to engage in meaningful talk during class discussions, storytelling, retelling, and dramatizations.   Students also develop self-confidence through speaking experience.  

MATHEMATICS

New York State Learning Standards

Students will understand mathematics and become mathematically confident by communicating and reasoning mathematically, by applying mathematics in real-world settings, and by solving problems through the integrated study of number systems, geometry, algebra, data analysis, probability, and trigonometry.

 

The seven key ideas of the learning standards are :

  • Mathematical Reasoning

  • Measurement

  • Number and Numeration Operations

  • Modeling/Multiple Representation Uncertainty

  • Patterns/Functions

  • Number Sense and Operations
  • Measurement

 

Our elementary math program is aligned with the seven key ideas of the New York State Learning Standards.   The curriculum stresses essential skills and helps students to “think mathematically.”   We utilize the Think Math (2008) program in grades K-5.   The program's varied components all work together to introduce students to concepts earlier, integrate concepts meaningfully, and give students opportunities to practice concepts continually throughout the grade levels.

 

Problem solving is stressed at every grade level .   Students are presented with problems, games, and stories that require them to recognize relevant information and select appropriate problem-solving strategies.   The idea that there is more than one way to solve a problem is emphasized as children learn to take risks, think logically, reason, and create.   Students must justify their thinking and are expected to explain (communicate) their mathematical reasoning and solutions orally and in writing.   Children also work with manipulatives at all grade levels.   Manipulatives or physical items such as counters and pattern blocks help students to conceptualize abstract ideas and solve problems.   Problem solving extends through all areas of the curriculum.

 

Technology tools, such as calculators and computers, help students learn about math and build valuable technology skills at the same time.    

Assessment of each student's progress is ongoing, and is an integral part of lessons and units at all levels.   The elementary mathematics program prepares children with the skills and competencies to be successful on the 4 th and 8 th grade New York State Math Assessments.

SCIENCE

New York State Learning Standards

Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to physical setting and living environment, and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.  

The ultimate goal of science study in grades K – 5 is that students become integrally familiar with the key steps of the scientific process by conducting many real experiments.   The steps of the scientific process are: asking a question, posing a hypothesis or guess, observing and recording results, and drawing a conclusion that relates back to the hypothesis.   By the end of fifth grade, our student scientists have performed and discussed these steps repeatedly so that they have become very familiar.  

SOCIAL STUDIES

New York State Learning Standards

Students will use a Variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the History of the United States, World History, Geography, Economics, and Civics, Citizenship, and Government.  

The elementary Social Studies program strives to develop each student's growth as an informed citizen by emphasizing the cultural/social, geographic, economic, historical, and political aspects of our changing world.  

We expect children to use the following skills and strategies in the Social Studies Program:

•  Obtain information from a variety of sources including technology

•  Identify key facts

•  Discriminate fact from opinion

•  Identify a problem

•  Make a decision to solve a problem

•  Take notes and organize them effectively

•  Write effectively using facts to support a point of view

•  Present information

•  Participate in interpersonal and group relations  

The curriculum encourages interdisciplinary learning.   Reading and writing are paramount in the Social Studies curriculum.   Students read a variety of literary forms, both non-fiction and fiction, that are integrated with the English Language Arts program, and write often.   One important form of writing is the response to a Document Based Question (DBQ).   Beginning in kindergarten, students are exposed to developmentally appropriate historical sources such as authentic documents, photographs, memorabilia, artifacts, graphs, and interviews that make history come alive for them.   Students learn to compare, categorize, contrast, and analyze information from these sources to draw conclusions. They then must prove these conclusions by citing specific details orally and in simple writing in the early grades and in more detailed writing in grades 3-5.

   

ART

The elementary art program strives to develop the joy of discovery through art in a nurturing and positive learning environment.   We recognize the unique style of each child, and that each child will produce art at his/her own level of development. The curriculum provides experiences to guide students toward a lifetime of appreciation and pleasure through art.

Program Goals

•  To develop each student's potential for artistic expression

•  To foster a sense of self-confidence, worth, and individuality

•  To cultivate the imagination

•  To develop critical thinking, analysis, and aesthetic judgement skills

•  To recognize and respect diverse artistic, cultural, and historical expressions  

To accomplish these goals, the elementary program is comprised of developmentally appropriate experiences at each grade level to enable students to understand art, create art, and value art.   Children work with a variety of media including paper, crayons, paint, printmaking materials, and clay.

   

MUSIC

New York State Learning Standards

Creating, Performing, and Participating in the Arts

Students will actively engage in the processes that constitute creation and performance in the arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) and participate in various roles in the arts.  

The goal of the elementary music program is to provide the students with a varied and enjoyable musical experience.   The curriculum has been designed to build smoothly from first grade to fifth grade.   At the end of the five-year sequence each student should have a grasp of beginning music theory, an understanding of the major musical styles, and the ability to sing in a group.   An important component of our elementary program, music is integrated with other disciplines.   The elementary music program guides students toward a lifetime of appreciation and pleasure through music.

The music program for grades 1-5 has three aspects:

1. Classroom music .   All students have classroom music once or twice each week.   The students learn the rudiments of music, play musical games, and sing songs in many different musical styles.
2. Two instrumental programs.
The string program begins in third grade and offers the students the opportunity to learn the violin, viola, cello, or bass and play in a beginning string ensemble.   The string program continues in the 4 th and 5 th grades with lessons and orchestra.
The band program begins in the fourth grade and offers the students the opportunity to learn a band instrument (wind, brass, percussion) and, when capable, to play in the band. Fifth grade students continue with the instrumental program begun at grade four.
Beginning instrumental instruction is not available in the middle school.  

3. Chorus . This is available to all fourth and fifth grade students.  

The band, chorus, and string ensemble usually perform two concerts during the school year.

 

PHYSICAL EDUCATION
New York State Learning Standards

 Personal Health and Fitness

Students will have the necessary knowledge and skills to establish and maintain physical fitness, participate in physical activity, and maintain personal health.

Physical Education is an integral part of the total education program at the elementary level.   Students in grades 1-5 participate in two physical education periods each week.   The physical education program is designed to help students develop and maintain physical fitness, to develop locomotor skills, and to develop positive behaviors and attitudes about physical activity.   The curriculum consists of developmentally appropriate physical activities that emphasize self-improvement, enjoyment, participation, and cooperation to encourage lifetime physical activity.  

LIBRARY MEDIA

 The elementary library media program is designed to foster a love of literature and to develop inquiry and research skills that are the basis for lifelong learning.   It is designed to support and integrate with the elementary curriculum based on the New York State Learning Standards.  

  Fundamental research skills are introduced in second grade.   In grades three to five, these skills are reviewed and reinforced, and more advanced inquiry and research skills are developed.   Students learn how to select research materials and technology tools to locate and discern appropriate information for a specific purpose.   These skills enable students to find and manage information efficiently.

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