Over the summer, teachers and administrators have been busy collaborating and are excited to share the following curriculum and instruction revisions. The changes were adopted to facilitate differentiated learning so students will continue to be challenged at their individual levels within a challenging curriculum that inspires inquiry and innovation.
Social Emotional Learning and Character Education
We adopted the 7 Mindsets character education approach to complement the current Character Education program. The program will help students acquire and apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to achieve goals. This will also help them maintain positive relationships, make decisions, and lead by example. Our students are encouraged to dream big, focus on their own and each others' strengths, develop an attitude of gratitude, and make a difference as they create their JCDS legacy.
6th Grade Accelerated Big Ideas Math Program
We are excited about a new math program for 6th grade: Big Ideas Math. Big Ideas Math balances conceptual understanding with procedural fluency and accelerates learning through a differentiated approach to instruction. This enables students to acquire 7th grade math concepts. A strong online component provides extra assistance to all students and includes the helpful perk of live online math support.
The Pre-K 3 through 6th grade Global Studies program has been aligned to balance history, geography, economics, and civics across all grade levels. Topics now progress from the concrete, tangible concepts of school, community, state, and American history in the lower grades and then gradually encompass world issues and current events in the upper grades. A celebration of diversity and cultural contributions to the United States is incorporated into each grade level. Students will participate in engaging activities as historians, anthropologists, geographers, decision makers, and entrepreneurs.
Writing Workshop will be piloted in 3rd through 6th grades this academic year using Lucy Calkins' methodology.* Each grade will introduce units on narrative, opinion and informational writing using mentor text to model a genre's craft and structure. Students learn to generate their own writing topics, draft, revise and edit their work with the guidance of teachers and peers. They then publish their work for an authentic audience. The student-centered, differentiated approach enables students to tell stories that are important to them, proceed at their own pace, and learn new skills that enable them to stretch as writers. Writing becomes an exciting part of the day as students build community through sharing and critiquing each other's work.
*According to Edweek, "Lucy Calkins, founding director of the Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College, Columbia University, is one of the most influential literacy educators in the country. She is the author of the popular Units of Study curriculum guidebooks and one of the originators of the "workshop" method for reading and writing instruction, which centers on independent student work in combination with teacher modeling and one-on-one and small-group guidance."
Fundations will be integrated into Kindergarten's multisensory approach to phonics instruction. According to its website, "Fundations is based on the Wilson Reading System principles, and provides research-based materials and strategies essential to a comprehensive reading, spelling, and handwriting program."
The science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) units are in the process of being revised to complement the new Global Studies program. Emphasis will be placed on guiding students to prototype solutions to real-world issues. A service learning component will be incorporated to help students connect learning to meaningful experiences and to provide them with opportunities to make a positive impact in their community.