Teaching and Learning

What’s New in Curriculum?

SOCIAL STUDIES:  We are implementing a revised curriculum in Lower School.  Students in each grade will deepen their knowledge in each of four areas:  geography, history, government/citizenship, and economics.  Topics including physical features and landforms, past/present day life and cultures, rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and wants vs. needs will be explored and studied. Multicultural education is embedded throughout the social studies curriculum.  Students will engage in individual tasks and collaborative projects as they learn about the world in which they live.

MATHEMATICS:  In grades kindergarten-4, we are investigating math programs to identify the curriculum that will best meet our goals for student learning in mathematics.  While we have three programs that have peaked our interest, we are beginning with Math in Focus, which is the US version of Singapore Math.  Singapore Math has been recognized for rigorous, quality content and instilling in students a positive attitude about math.  The curriculum is based on a pedagogy that:
  • Uses a concrete-pictorial-abstract learning sequence
  • Focuses on model drawing
  • Anchors lessons in real-world, hands-on experiences
  • Establishes foundational, independent problem solving skills
  • Builds understanding and mastery of more complex math concepts
  • Develops the ability for students to monitor their own thinking
"Pilot" lessons are being taught in each classroom to give us a sense of the rigor of the curriculum and how it engages students in mathematical thinking and communication.  "Piloting" is like field-testing . . . it helps us get a sense for how effective a program is and how it's experienced by students.  Naturally, students will have slightly different experiences in each grade.  By January, we will make a decision on which program to adopt beginning in 2016-17.  Our goals for students in mathematics include:
  • Build conceptual understanding balanced with skill development. 
  • Identify and apply a variety of problem-solving strategies.
  •  Use estimation and assess reasonableness of a math question.
  • Develop flexible thinking and openness to ambiguity.
  • Relate the concrete to the abstract.
  • Think algebraically.
  • Employ creative and critical-thinking.
  • Develop tenacity and perseverance in the math context.
  • Maintain a positive attitude towards math.
We believe in a curriculum that builds from the concrete, to the pictorial, to the abstract.  We are looking for a curriculum that is engaging and challenging for students.  We want students to develop both competence and confidence as mathematicians. 

MINDFULNESS:  Lisa Heurung, counselor, is at the forefront of this curriculum in Lower School.  What is mindfulness?  It has been defined as “training the brain to have focused attention and increased emotional regulation.”  Teachers believe it is critically important for children to learn how to quiet their minds and bodies in order to self-regulate and bring their best selves to the learning environment.  In each classroom, Lisa is introducing the principles of mindfulness, practicing mindful strategies, and giving students tools to develop self-awareness.

September:  Friendship                         January:  Respect         
October:   Sportsmanship                      February/March:  Empathy
November/December:  Mindfulness        April:  Responsibility
                                                          May/June:  Integrity

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