Elementary

Curriculum by Subject

FRIENDS' ELEMENTARY CURRICULUM GUIDE WILL BE REVISED SPRING 2016

List of 13 items.

  • LITERACY

    The ability to communicate clearly – to read, to write, and to speak and listen – is a central component of an educated society. Reading, writing, and speaking are essential tools for our success, for enriching and expanding our lives, and for creating knowledgeable citizens who can effectively communicate ideas.
    As a result, the focus of our literacy curriculum is:
    •     developing awareness of language as a tool;
    •     reading and understanding a variety of written material;
    •     writing and speaking for a variety of purposes;
    •     applying higher-level thinking skills to reading, writing, speaking, and listening;
    •     reading to select information from a variety of sources;
    •     reading to enjoy literature.
     
    At all levels, language arts is integrated into thematic units as well as math, science, and social studies. Each year builds on what students have previously learned. At all levels we help students learn strategies that enable them to construct meaning and make connections out of increasingly difficult materials. With this knowledge they can synthesize information to share ideas, opinions and experiences. We aim to provide these strategies to our children by modeling and developing word recognition skills, phonemic awareness, and context clues. These strategies allow them to engage with the text and to construct individual reading skills and strategies through predicting, comparing, comprehending, inferring, and summarizing important ideas.
     
    To achieve these goals teachers help students draft, edit, and revise materials in order to respond to literature, to explain concepts, to convey information, and to communicate with others. We help them to learn correct grammar, accurate spelling and complete sentence and paragraph structure. We also help them use technology to write and do research.
     
    We acknowledge that each child will progress at his or her own rate. It is our job as educators to encourage and challenge each of them to reach his or her full potential. Our ultimate goal is to help children become life-long, joyful, and literate learners who can succeed in an evolving world.
  • MATH

    VIEW FRIENDS' MATH CURRICULUM UPDATE HERE

    At Friends’, children are taught and learn to be confident and competent math thinkers. We begin by providing a variety of concrete, hands- on experiences to build real number sense that students can later apply to more abstract mathematics. Students work individually, as well as in cooperative groups, to discuss and reason mathematically while becoming flexible and creative in their approach to problem solving. 
    The following principles are part of what we believe about math and how they guide our teaching practice day to day:
    • Presenting worthwhile mathematical tasks (eliciting, engaging, and challenging thinking) bring about better math understanding.
    • Engaging student intelligence in every modality (auditory, visual, kinesthetic) and description (Gardner model) is key to successful teaching and learning. We therefore give attention and respect to the range of ways students learn mathematics. We also keep in mind learning constraints and “openings” that allow effective, appropriate teaching.
    • Starting from the concrete and working through the transitional toward abstract, mathematical language builds solid conceptual understanding.
    • Connecting to what the student knows and building upon that prior knowledge supports effective, longer-term learning.
    • Teaching more than a skills-based mathematics curriculum means including the five process standards: problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, connection, and representation. We emphasize mathematical thinking and mentally manipulating numbers as well as the use of mathematical language and models of mathematics (representing).
  • SCIENCE

    VIEW FRIENDS' SCIENCE CURRICULUM UPDATE HERE

    Children are intensely interested in the world around them, and they learn to unravel its mysteries through solving practical problems. Neuroscientists emphasize two ways of learning – one is rational, deductive, purposeful, and straightforward – the other, intuitive, hypothetical, playful and imaginative. Learning theorists agree that no one fully understands which teaching approach makes an individual child or group of children learn. Consequently, because different children approach learning differently, the approach to classroom science – unraveling the world’s mysteries - at Friends’ School follows a mixed strategy – one that leaves opportunities of the moment for a particular student, teacher and classroom. Every science session in Friends’ School classrooms encourages students to ‘be a scientist,’ and teachers focus on creating a learning style that is modeled on how scientists work.
    Our teachers focus on the principles and big ideas in Earth, Life, and Physical Sciences. Our teachers: 
    • Incorporate a research-based, constructivist approach to science learning;
    • Include embedded formative assessments;
    • Teach science as inquiry;
    • Provide literacy and mathematical strategies as part of the science activity;
    • Align their topics with Colorado State Science Standards.
    • Teach the scientific method, including:
    Stating the problem
    Gathering information
    Suggesting an answer for the problem
    Performing an experiment
    Recording the experiments or other observations
    Stating conclusions

    Our planned work at Friends’ School takes a collection of starting points that have appeal, explore science concepts and have science facts heavily embedded. Each topic focuses on the scientific process and puts each student deliberately in the role of scientist. Journaling and documenting are key aspects to the activity. 
  • SOCIAL STUDIES

    Social Studies is the study of social interaction and human culture in our past, present, and future. We have divided social studies into four different strands with the realization that the strands are deeply interconnected.  These strands are: community, geography, civics, and cultures in history.
    The following principles are part of the Friends’ School social studies curriculum. These tenets combined with our foundational philosophy of education influence our teaching.
    • Connecting to prior or personal knowledge of social studies concepts and areas of study supports solid learning in all the strands
    • Developing a strong sense of community beginning with the self in Kindergarten and expanding through the grade to international affairs and current events develops global social awareness.
    • Participating in class and school wide community service projects deepen and strengthen our commitment to Friends’ School agreements to be respectful, be safe, and be responsible. They also bring awareness to needs beyond the self.
    • Facilitating individual country studies and integrated projects incorporates multicultural learning.
    • Celebrating school wide activities such as May Day, Earth Day, Winter and Harvest Celebrations help increase awareness of diversity and different beliefs. They also enhance understanding of community at Friends’ School
    Finally, through our reflective teaching and emphasis on connection, compromise, and community we hope that respect, safety, and responsibility become a conscious part of our students’ lives as they grow into adult citizens of the world.
  • SOCIAL EMOTIONAL

    VIEW FRIENDS' SOCIAL EMOTIONAL CURRICULUM UPDATE HERE 

    At Friends’ School we educate the whole child –
    “head, hand, and
    heart”
    . This curriculum update highlights education of the heart, focusing on the unique social/emotional curriculum taking place at Friends’, a cornerstone of our founding mission.

    Friends’ was founded as a school that honors children for both their unique gifts and their challenges, and mirrors our founders’ passion for continuing the joyful exploration of childhood. We foster experiential learning while addressing the social and emotional development of each student, yielding a superior education for our students. 
  • SPANISH

    Spanish at Friends’ School is intended to introduce students to the language and culture of Spanish speaking countries.  We do not expect students to be fluent Spanish speakers when they leave our school.  Rather we expect that they have had an introduction to the grammar and structure of the Spanish language and have some knowledge and understanding about Spanish cultures.
    The following principles guide our teaching practice: 
    • It is important that Spanish language and culture be relevant to children’s lives.
    • Engaging students in all modalities – auditory, visual, kinesthetic – is key to successful teaching and learning.
    • Every language has a form, which makes it unique.
    • Language is used for a variety of purposes depending on the circumstances.
    • Language has an effect on, and is affected by, everything.
    • Language is not static; it changes constantly.
    • Language is central to life.  It is a major connecting system between and among all societies.
    • Language can be interpreted, and meaning expressed, in different ways depending on the culture.
    • Language is powerful and can have a profound effect, both positive and negative. Therefore, it must be taught, learned, and used responsibly.
    • Language is the means by which cultures reflect upon their experiences and knowledge.
    • Language is a key factor in the development of international understanding.
    Learning two or more languages is a powerful tool that gives students access to the global community.
  • MUSIC

    Music at Friends’ is meant to be both enjoyable and content oriented. Our goal is that children have fun while learning musical skills through age appropriate activities. We want all students to have enough skill and background knowledge to appreciate and engage with a wide variety of music from a wide variety of cultures.  Our program is based on a balanced and comprehensive approach using a spiraling curriculum.
    Major themes addressed include: rhythm, melody, musical terms, performance skills, reading music, and learning about other cultures through music.
    Integrated music experiences address these themes sometimes more than one theme at a time.  Children play games, sing songs, and play instruments, all the while developing their rhythmic and melodic skills, learning musical vocabulary, reading music, and developing an understanding of song form and music from other cultures.  Performances are often used as a goal toward which we work for an extended period of time.  During rehearsals students have the opportunity to solidify skills they are learning. 
  • ART

    "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." - Pablo Picasso

    Art is a universal language. Art at Friends’ School is an outlet for creativity and self-expression; a channel for communication; a way to express intelligence; a means for deepening connections between people; and a vehicle for enhancing cross-cultural, historical, and global understanding. Every child will create art as part of integrated units of study and simply for art’s sake. Every child will explore a wide-range of materials, media, and techniques while studying artists, art history, and world cultures. Students take art classes weekly as well as incorporating art into their regular lessons and activities. A primary goal is for each child to see her/himself as an artist. 
  • PHYSICAL EDUCATION

    The Physical Education program at Friends’ School is consistent with the school’s mission to educate the whole child: head, hand, and heart.  Students are encouraged to exercise their physical bodies, to explore their strengths, to challenge themselves physically and mentally, and to express their creativity.  Helping students feel strong and in control of their bodies contributes to their physical, social, emotional and cognitive growth.
    The Physical Education program is directed foremost at developing lifelong learners.  Emphasis is on developing individual competencies, skills, and team building rather than on competition. Student goals are in three areas; head, hand, and heart. Activities are planned using goals from all three areas every day. 
    • Head (game rules and strategies, problem–solving, and creativity)
    • Hand (perceptual-motor skills, sport skills, and fitness)
    • Heart (positive attitude, sportsmanship, and teamwork)
    The sports curriculum is based on developmental benchmarks and perceptual-motor skills and uses exposure to a variety of sports to accomplish these goals.  An example of this is the hand-eye coordination unit. During the unit, students engage in sports like Ultimate Frisbee, football, or volleyball as well as other challenge activities, all of which include throwing and catching. The balance unit, on the other hand, would include activities like gymnastics, circus stunts, activities to increase core strength, and team challenges that require static and dynamic balance to complete.
     
    This is a cumulative curriculum that builds upon itself. Skills learned in one year are reviewed, expanded, and built upon in future years. In the following curriculum guide materials and concepts covered are listed only when they are first introduced.
  • LIBRARY/TECHNOLOGY

    Library and Technology are integrated into the Friends’ School curriculum. Our professional librarian maintains our diverse literary collection and teaches library use and research to elementary classes. Our I.T. staff maintains our classroom and administrative computers and network as well as our computer lab and iPad cart.
    The library is an integral part of both literacy and technology learning. Students visit the library regularly to check out books, meet in book groups, work on projects and work in the computer lab that is part of the library. Technology classes include word processing, research skills, presentation skills, and robotics in the higher grades.
  • SERVICE LEARNING/COMMUNITY SERVICE

    We believe the collective energy of many people, students, parents, faculty and staff, creates a community that supports each other’s growth and learning.
     
    Children who have a strong sense of belonging to their school feel safe and connected. Being part of a positive environment supports children’s growth into healthy, contributing members of society and their adult communities. We believe it is important to build and sustain community by nurturing respect, responsibility, and safety. It is important for students to learn direct, honest communication and mediation techniques. The social/emotional curriculum helps students learn self-awareness, which facilitates their interactions with and understanding of others.
    Community at Friends' School begins in each classroom. It expands to the school, the neighborhood, the city and beyond. Children’s sense of community gradually grows to include other cultures and all living things. Students are encouraged to be active members of the larger local and global communities.  Service learning experiences offer them opportunities to learn about and engage in the world beyond Friends’ and ways they can contribute to the larger good.
  • OUTDOOR EDUCATION

    Students in the 3rd and 4th grades attend Cal-Wood Education Center above Jamestown on overnight trips. 5th grade students go on a week-long expedition to Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in the Four Corners region of Colorado.
    These experiences offer unique programs that includes a myriad of learning opportunities for students. They are academic experience as students engage in scientific inquiry related to the local environments. They are also an opportunity for students to get to know each other better and to build classroom community. Students build resilience as they adjust to life away from home in an unfamiliar environment, eating different foods, sleeping in a different bed and more.
     
    In addition to these overnight trips, Friends’ offers students other outdoor experiences including nature observations on local hikes, field study of the Bobolink Trail area, and studies of local geography and natural cycles.
  • ECO LITERACY/GREEN SCHOOL

    Experiencing the wonder and beauty of nature is intrinsically valuable and is critical to developing eco-literacy. Eco-literacy grows from rich experiences with the natural world. Children who understand the complexity and interconnections in our world are personally motivated to work toward the sustainability of the planet. Eco-literate students make conscious choices about use of the earth’s resources now and in the future. Our students are informed of environmental issues and feel empowered and optimistic about improving global health. Friends’ School strives to encourage better stewardship of the earth. Teachers, staff, students and parents work together to lessen our environmental impact and nurture the health of our planet.
    Friends’ School aims to be a zero waste school. Students recycle paper, bottles, cans and more, and compost all organic waste, including hand towels, paper plates, and paper that cannot be recycled. The 144 solar modules on the roof of our elementary building generate 51,000 kilowatt-hours per year and provide 91% of the energy needs for that building. In addition, we have gardens where we grow vegetables used in our lunch program. Students help harvest and care for the gardens.