Our formal art curriculum is contracted with Meet the Masters. Specially trained teachers come to the school several times per year. They present a multi-media lecture to introduce an artist. A few days later, a teacher returns to guide the students through a directed art project that employs the same techniques and media of that artist. The projects are modified in complexity for each grade level. There is a three-year sequence of artists, and so most students will learn about an artist twice during their elementary years. In addition to the formal curriculum, all teachers incorporate art into their other curricular areas to provide kinesthetic learning opportunities and to connect art to history.
We use a new and improved Open Court program called Imagine It. It is a comprehensive language arts program that integrates reading, spelling, and writing across all areas of the curriculum. This program addresses critical reading and writing strategies, higher level thinking skills, phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling, fluency, vocabulary, grammar and comprehension.
Complementing the language arts curriculum, every student reads several grade-appropriate novels and books each year, both independently and as a class. Independent reading is done as homework, and the number of required minutes increases with each grade. Both class and independent reading comprehension are tested with Accelerated Reader, an online testing program that gauges progress in reading comprehension.
Written and oral communication are important components for the language arts program and at every grade level, students hone these skills both in language arts and across the curriculum, such as in science and social studies. A wide variety of techniques are employed to develop skilled writers in all of the writing domains: e.g. expository, narrative, descriptive, poetry. Projects in science and social studies develop research and technical writing skills as well as skills necessary for making accurate citations in research reports. Oral presentation is part of several projects each year in all grades.
The success of our language arts curriculum can be measured, in part, by the consistently high standardized test scores our students have achieved.
The strengths of our language arts curricular implementations are many. Lower grade teachers have aides who are able to implement the program in small groups for individual attention. Imagine It serves us well, especially in phonics and reading comprehension. The Accelerated Reader program places students in zones of proximal development so they can successfully read books at their level. Daily Language Review worksheets keep students engaged in learning correct grammar. With small classes, it is possible to provide every student many opportunities to become comfortable speaking in front of the class. Special projects in other curricular areas, such as science and social studies, provide a variety of public speaking experiences.
The Envision Math curriculum is built on a strong research base and authored by the nation’s top math experts and educators. It is centered around interactive, visual learning and differentiated instruction to address the specific needs of all student populations whether they are on level, struggling or gifted and talented. Envision Math teaches a new generation of learners to become critical thinkers. Both the printed and digital copy is used to teach. The program meets the challenging standards set for California as well as the new National Core Standards. Assessments are on going with a placement test at the beginning of the year, assessments following each topic, benchmark testing every four topics, midyear testing and end of the year testing. There are checks at the beginning of a lesson and during the lesson. The components of this program diagnose and offer prescriptions for all levels of learners throughout the year. Parents and students have online support and textbook access from their home computer for each lesson.
Students in kindergarten through 5th grade have two 30-minute music classes each week. In the classes, chapel songs for that week are learned or reviewed. Other activities include learning to read rhythms and notes, sing solfege, sing expressive songs, learn basic keyboard skills, study various instruments, learn how to perform as a soloist, and in an ensemble, and learn drama skills. We also prepare for the Christmas and Spring Musicals. Students learn hand/body motions to many of the songs we sing; many of the motions incorporate sign language. The motions enhance students’ coordination, strengthen their sense of rhythm, and give them a better understanding of the music. In the 3rd through 5th grades, one of the 30 minute lessons is devoted to learning an instrument. Third graders learn the recorder, fourth graders learn the violin, and fifth graders learn the guitar. Additionally, the fifth graders and second graders take a field trip to the Orange County Performing Arts Center each year for performances specifically created for these grades. These are wonderful opportunities for the students to experience a live symphony performance.
All students have physical education class twice each week. Students participate in activities related to fitness, strength, endurance, and flexibility. They are taught basic gross motor skills through fun games and activities. They also learn the fundamentals of several sports such as volleyball, kickball, basketball, and soccer. Fifth graders travel off-campus for aquatics, golf and tennis units with professional teachers. Good sportsmanship is stressed at all times. Health topics are covered throughout the year with an emphasis on fitness and maintaining a healthy body.
Our P. E. teacher runs a very well organized program. She is intentional in teaching skills and the basics of specific sports, not just playing games. Due to scheduling constraints to meet all academic needs, the PE program is confined to two times each week. A highlight of the year is our Junior Olympics. Every student chooses events to participate in, and every students is a winner. It is a fun day where everyone gets to enjoy being outside engaged in friendly competition.
Religion is taught using both a formal curriculum and through our chapel theses. Faith matters, character development, and prayer are infused into all areas of our daily school life. Grades 1-5 use the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) curriculum. Kindergarten does not use a formal curriculum; the teachers focus on God’s love for us through Bible stories, and emphasis is placed on creation, families and Jesus. All students and many parents attend weekly chapel. Chapel includes music, a message from Pastor Jeff, and offering, and –most weeks- Bible verses recited by selected classes on a rotating basis. Once a month, a skit that introduces the monthly chapel theme is presented. Each class has responsibility for one chapel skit per year.
We integrate the national Character Counts! six pillars of character with the Christian character traits tied to the chapel theme. The themes are reinforced in the classroom, at morning opening, and in chapel.
Faith is not contained in the classroom, either. In conjunction with the church Social Concerns Ministry, students actively participate in many servant projects each year, such as health kits for Lutheran World Relief, food drives for local food pantries, military family outreach projects, and special collection drives when disasters occur. These servant projects are presented to students and families as opportunities to express Christian love and service to others.
Our Science curriculum, published by Harcourt, is relatively new. Each year, the curriculum is divided into three areas: earth science, life science, and physical science. The human body is an additional area in fifth grade. Concepts are introduced and reinforced with hands-on activities and experimentation. The curriculum is supplemented with field trips, both on and off campus. For example, third graders go to the San Diego Zoo to learn why some animals become extinct or endangered. Fifth graders take two three day trips to bring science to life. In the fall, they travel to Astrocamp in Idyllwild. In the spring, they board a ferry for Catalina Island where they learn about marine biology.
Our curriculum is very interactive with lots of fun activities for the students. It is very comprehensive; the textbooks are bright with many pictures. The curriculum is aligned well with the national teaching standards. Experiments are interesting and explore relevant topics.
We use the McGraw-Hill curriculum series for 1st through 5th grades. The textbook is very comprehensive and follows the state standards in scope and sequence. Kindergarten has its own curriculum published by Harcourt. It builds the students’ sense of community beginning at levels they understand in school and at home and, then, moving on to their communities, our country and the world beyond. The units center around monthly themes. Each successive grade does the same thing on a more comprehensive level. In second grade, a special unit is added about Christmas traditions around the world and another unit brings their imagination to life with a presentation and report on an animal act they create based on Mr. Popper’s Penguins. The specialty focus in 3rd grade is Native American communities and Orange County history. Fieldtrips to Knott’s Berry Farm, the Environmental Nature Center, and Key Ranch supplement the curriculum with related hands-on experiences. Fourth grade is an exciting year studying California history. Students travel to Newport Back Bay, an overnight adventure on the brig Pilgrim, Missions San Juan Capistrano, and a three day trip to Coloma Outdoor Discover School on the American River and Sacramento. Fifth graders learn American history. Social studies is also used as a backdrop to teach note taking, conduct research and develop study skills. Each student independently researches and prepares a comprehensive report on one state. A highlight of fifth grade is participation in National History Day. This program, sponsored at the local level by the Orange County Department of Education, promotes independent research and critical thinking about a topic of the student’s choosing centered around the annual National History Day theme. All students research a topic and create a poster that communicates their thesis and the relationship to the theme; some will be chosen to compete at the county level. For two years we’ve had students represent Orange County at the state level. In 2008-2009 two of the students won state.
The teachers like the social studies curriculum. It is well-organized, comprehensive and aligns well with state and national teaching standards in scope and sequence. They have done a great job incorporating supplemental materials to bring lessons to life and make them interesting for the students. The field trips are particularly relevant and filled with hands-on activities that interest the students. We are fortunate to have so many resources locally available. The social studies curriculum for kindergarten is also a strength. Not all schools provide a kindergarten curriculum for social studies; it provides a good bridge between preschool and primary grades.
“Teach Them Spanish” a publication of McGraw Hill is the foundation of our basic Spanish instruction. Students begin to study vocabulary in the areas of: greetings, numbers, food, clothing, family members, colors, community, and classroom objects. Each year vocabulary is expanded in each area along with reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. In the fourth grade students begin to learn basic Spanish grammar. In the fifth grade students begin to conjugate verbs and structure their own sentences. In all grades songs are sung to incorporate vocabulary, do activities in class, work sheets to practice reading and writing skills, and pronunciation practice in class. Our Spanish program’s purpose is to expose our students to the language.
Computer Lab: Students in Kindergarten and 1st Grade have Computer Lab for one 30-minute session each week. 2nd through 5th grade students have Computer lab for one 45-minute session each week.
Our Computer Lab utilizes laptop PCs, one per student, on a dedicated wireless network and server. Students both emulate what they see on a projection screen plus work independently on their laptops as they learn and implement solutions for completing projects in today's most popular and useful applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Publisher, PowerPoint, Corel Draw, and Adobe Photo Shop.
Kindergarten and 1st grade students work on their fine motor skills and their eye-to-hand coordination as they learn about the spatial relationship between their own hand on a mouse and their computer's screen. Exercises in our lower grades emphasize accuracy in pointing and clicking, keeping within boundaries, and locating, recognizing and activating common tools, menus, and command buttons.
Our upper grade students learn how to best utilize applications that will be useful to them throughout their scholastic careers, and beyond. Emphasis is placed on word processing and desktop publishing; however, graphic illustration, digital photo editing and even animation are included. The upper grades also learn how to navigate our network, while being responsible for keeping files in their own personal folders and transporting files to and from home via their own flash drives. They are also taught how to safely navigate the World Wide Web, conducting searches and learning how to download content for use in their homeroom assignments that require online research.
Computer Lab also reinforces the importance of manners, discipline, respect, teamwork, privacy, property, and even hygiene, in respect to computers and in everyday life.
Homeroom Classrooms: Elementary students also have supervised access to computers in their homeroom classrooms. Students will use these homeroom computers daily to take reading comprehension tests, work on math, science and social studies assignments, conduct research, write reports, and monitor daily news events. Keyboarding skills are also taught on the homeroom computers using the application Type To Learn.