Reading is a major area of focus in all grades. The primary grades spend 1½-2 hours each day on reading. Grades 4-8 spend four hours per week on reading, with much additional time spent reading in content areas. Instructional strategies include reading aloud, the use of literature based trade books, literature logs, class discussion, small and large group discussion, writing and independent reading. To encourage critical thinking, our teachers use thought provoking questions, class discussion, and student’s critique. A thematic, literature based approach is used in all grades. Remedial reading is implemented by staff reading specialists who assist children outside the classroom who need additional help. This is accomplished through the use of remedial materials, computer programs, reinforcement of phonics and sight word vocabulary, reading comprehension instruction and assistance with Accelerated Reader assignments.
Our media center, in addition to providing in excess of 24,000 books at all grade levels, provides much technological support through computer assisted filing of literature and reference materials, video presentation and video recording of discussions. Enrichment activities include drama presentations and field trips appropriate to grade level. All students and teachers read silently for at least ten minutes of every school day (time varies in junior high classes) and students must carry a book for pleasure reading with them at all times during the day.
To learn writing skills students spend 30-45 minutes each day. They learn a “writing process.” Writing in all content areas reinforces what they have learned. Major instructional strategies for teaching writing skills include journaling, models of correct language usage, all varieties of purposeful writing, and group discussions. Students learn to edit on the computer. Our students participate in a variety of enrichment activities that encourage good writing, including Governor’s Cup Creative Writing Competition, many regional, state, and national essay contests, and pen pal projects.
Oral communication skills are learned and practiced in all grades beginning with “show and tell” in kindergarten. Students spend about 30-45 minutes each day on oral language. Many instructional strategies are used but usually we employ a sequential process of explanation, modeling, practice and presentation. To encourage critical thinking, we use dialogue and role-playing, interviews, and debates. To allow for special needs, we have an adjusted curriculum program and our local public school offers speech therapy on a pullout or after school basis. Our students utilize oral language skills in all areas of the curricula to share, inform and persuade. Enrichment activities include school and Diocesan Speech contests, guest speakers, and many opportunities for performance in all-school programs and drama presentations.
The time spent on science increases by grade level from 1 1/2 hours per week in first grade to 45 minutes per day in middle school. Teachers in all grades take a hands-on approach to teaching, using modeling, experimentation, observations, and class and group discussion. This hands-on approach encourages critical thinking. Predictions and analysis of results are also used to help the student apply the concepts learned to life experiences. Kinesthetic learning is balanced with visual and auditory methods to reinforce the subject. Small group work helps to accommodate a variety of learning rates. Science themes such as health and fitness, conversation, and animal study are carried throughout the curricula. In science, our students use microscopes and a green house as well as other scientific equipment. Our media center provides many films and tapes to enhance instruction and learning. Enrichment activities include field trips, quest speakers, and a yearly science fair.
The social studies curriculum equips students to make current and future decisions based on Catholic values and democratic principles. The curriculum also increases the students understanding of respect for individual and cultural identities and diversities, developing skills and knowledge in geography, global issues, both current and anticipated, involving community members as resources and developing leaders with Christian principles who will be active participants in civic affairs.
The time spent on social studies varies from 1 1/2 hours per week in first grade to 45 minutes per day in middle school. The social studies curriculum follows the guidelines established by the diocese. History, geography and current events are incorporated into daily studies. In order to meet the needs of all students, a variety of instructional strategies are used including: modeling, lecturing, storytelling of historical facts, and cooperative learning. Social studies is often integrated with other subjects including language arts and computer. Enrichment is provided by the many videos and laser discs from our media center, field trips, and use of student oriented current even publications.
There are many new innovative tools in our foreign language
classes to ensure our students’ highest standards of learning are met. Along with Google tools, we also use the
website Duo Lingo to not only learn Spanish, but also introduce ourselves to
other languages such as French and Italian. The students learn conversational
skills as we practice verbal techniques in articulation of common Spanish
Students often use journals entries to track progress and reflect on personal growth.
These journals are written both in English and Spanish. Each day, students are
given a prompt that they must then translate and respond to using Google
Translate and other 21st century tools. Students learn technical
skills adhering to proper usage of verbs, nouns, adjectives and more in the
There is much focus on Spanish conversational skills which also strengthen our
everyday social skills. By learning about other languages and cultures around
the world, we are learning more about who we are. This prepares the
students not only for the high school classroom, but for college and beyond.
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