Developing Key Skills for Mastery
Lower Division students take ownership of the learning process at a very early age. Faculty facilitate a curriculum that initiates questions and higher-level thinking, while recognizing that students take in and process information in different ways. By knowing a student's learning style, our faculty use a variety of teaching methods that maximize student learning while continuing to foster a solid basis in the fundamentals of learning. The Lower Division is dedicated to motivating students to be joyful, resilient, lifelong learners who have been incrementally prepared to find success in their transition to the Middle Division.
michael salzer, Head of lower Division
Lower Division students are curious, express creativity, appreciate the value of hard work, and experience the joy of learning. Our program focuses on the mastery of fundamental concepts and mechanics while encouraging students to delve deeper into topics and subject areas. The curriculum provides a strong foundation in literature-based reading, phonics, writing, hands-on mathematics, social studies, and technology. Specialist teachers also work with students during the week in the areas of art, music, science, library, Innovation, and physical education.
The classroom experience is geared towards helping each student develop and implement ideas while demonstrating creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, as well as communication skills. Within this nurturing, stimulating environment, there is a strong emphasis on building character and empathy as students learn about their world.
Participation in school-wide projects helps reinforce the obligation to do for others. Each year, students partner with our Dads’ Club in service-learning activities. A Thanksgiving Food Drive, Christmas Toy Drive, and Service Day are wonderful ways we strengthen our school community while also giving back.
Lower Division students gain leadership skills such as self-awareness, accountability, self-motivation, and collaboration through character education. As the oldest members of Lower Division campus, Grade 4 students serve as reading partners for Grade 1 students, car door openers during morning drop-off, and as readers and acolytes for the Eucharist service on Wednesdays. Each semester, Grade 4 students elect peers to serve as Senators. The Senators facilitate service projects and campus activities such as Spirit Week.
Through gradual release and cooperative learning, 1st Graders work with foundational vocabulary, literary techniques, literary themes, and grammar to build reading fluency and gain a love for reading and writing. Teaching methods include small group instruction, writing workshops, games, and multimedia to accommodate various learner preferences as students begin analyzing text, decoding language, and engaging in the reading and writing process.
With an emphasis on manipulative activities and educational games, students develop an understanding of addition, subtraction, whole number relationships, place value, measurement, and the composition of geometric shapes. With the supplementation of IXL, student learning is data-driven and individually paced.
First grade students are instructed in the proper use of art tools while becoming familiarized with the drawing and painting processes.
Students begin on non-pitched percussion instruments learning basic 4/4 rhythm notation and echo skills. Students sing with good tone and posture developing their ear. Students use Quaver Music program to learn History, Theory, Ear Training and Styles.
Through gradual release and cooperative learning, 2nd graders work to improve reading skills, vocabulary, grammar, and literary techniques. Students also review manuscript letter formation and continue into cursive handwriting. Writing workshops are implemented as students continue to engage in the writing process.
Second Grade Math is an ongoing study with activities and manipulatives to reinforce problem-solving strategies. Teachers provide opportunities for students to think, reason, and practice in active and cooperative learning environments. Students learn to value mathematics and become confident in their ability to use numerical language as they extend their understanding of number and algebraic thinking, use place value and properties of operations, build fluency with basic math facts, apply foundational learning of fractions, and engage with units of measure, money, and time.
Through participation, projects, and readings, students engage with various communities and explore their similarities and differences. Students explore terrain, job industries, and consumer decisions that influence culture around the world. Second Graders also explore how historical figures have elicited positive change in their communities and how their influence continues to impact modern day leaders and communities.
Second grade students are introduced to the elements of art and learn how to engage in the creative process to develop their own compositions.
Students continue non-pitched percussion and pitched percussion instruments with an emphasis on reading notation. Students learn musical symbols and apply the skill in basic compositions using the staff and treble clef. Students sing with good tone and posture.
The areas of concentration in Third Grade Language Arts include reading, composition, vocabulary, and grammar. Students read books and complete book reports throughout the school year to build on their foundational skills in reading comprehension, decoding language, vocabulary, literary techniques, and literary themes. Students are encouraged to appreciate reading as a form of enjoyment, while also engaging with parts of speech, types of sentences, punctuation, spelling, and various forms of writing.
Third Grade Math continually builds on prior math knowledge gained within the mathematics discipline at the Lower Division. Each lesson is taught within a framework that allows students to be actively involved through manipulatives, game-based learning, and a blended learning environment. Students strengthen their foundation of basic math facts and learn confidence in their ability to use numerical language. Teachers provide time and guidance for thinking, reasoning, and practice, both individually and in cooperative learning groups.
The 3rd Grade Social Studies program focuses on geography, group membership, diversity, and the economy both within and beyond our own community. Through the use of interactive activities, students are immersed into a simulative experience for each objective, allowing students to gain greater insight into their own culture while also fostering an appreciation for communities outside of their own.
Third grade students learn to recognize how artists utilize different forms and mediums actively within the community and how they can integrate these methods into their own art projects.
Students continue with non-pitched and pitched percussion instruments and add to that beginning recorder study. Basic music notation reading is reinforced and students read B,A,G, on the treble clef staff. Students use a variety of materials and methods including the Quaver Music program to further their relationship with music.
Students practice typing, coding, digital literacy, tinkering, and book circulation with less teacher direction and more creative agency over time. One project unique to third grade that students can look forward to is studying Imagineers and planning a food truck that would fit with a Disney attraction of their choice.
The 4th Grade Language Arts curriculum is designed to present and teach the English language and the rules that support it. Grammar, reading, vocabulary, mechanics of writing, literature, and composition classes focus on the introduction of new material, practice of familiar areas, and mastery of learned concepts. The goal of each lesson is to reinforce the use of acquired language skills in order to enhance speaking, writing, and reading performance. The penmanship portion of the curriculum emphasizes the four elements of legible handwriting (size, slant, spacing, and rhythm) and provides students with a logical program of continuous skill progression.
All 4th Grade students follow a 5th Grade curriculum to develop a students’ foundation of core content areas and prepare them for success in their subsequent math courses. With an emphasis on word problems, manipulative activities, and educational games, students develop an understanding of addition, subtraction, whole number relationships, place value, measurement, and the composition of geometric shapes. With the supplementation of IXL, student learning is data-driven and individually paced.
The 4th Grade Social Studies curriculum is constructed to provide students with an overview of the major regions of the United States and the themes that make each region both unique and interdependent. Throughout the curriculum, students engage with American history, geography, government, economics, and civics. Students practice analyzing issues through the lens of social consciousness and perspectives outside their own. Students come to better appreciate their role as global, national, and local citizens.
Fourth grade students learn to recognize themselves as the artist and create artwork based on personal experience to express ideas, thoughts and feelings.
Students continue on the recorder and pitched percussion instruments. Students learn the notes C,D,E,F,F#,High C and High D. Students learn more complex music and music notation and play a wide range of styles including blues, folk, rock, and classical. Students learn about the orchestra and composers as well as the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern Periods in music. Quaver reinforces theory, history, styles and ear training.
Students practice typing, coding, digital literacy, tinkering, and book circulation with less teacher direction and more creative agency over time. One project unique to third grade that students can look forward to is studying Rube Goldberg and designing a Rube Goldberg machine of their own to depict in a cartoon of his style.