Academics » Lower School

Lower School

Kindergarten – Fifth Grade

Kindergarten

 Our unique Kindergarten program intentionally balances Academic and Social & Emotional learning with outdoor education, Physical Education, Art, Computer Science, and Music. Building a strong foundation for literacy, numeracy and problem solving provides children with the keys to unlocking their potential and sets them on path for success. Our Kindergarten program supports a small student-to-teacher ratio so each teacher can personalize the learning for each student. This helps students set and attain learning goals. To support literacy, students are explicitly taught phonics using Letterland. Letterland engages children in reading, writing, and spelling by teaching students the sounds of the alphabet, correct letter formation, phonetic spelling, and syllabification. To further support literacy, our kindergarten students use Reading A-Z and RAZ Kids. This program offers a variety of leveled books that are designed to strengthen each child’s reading, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. In kindergarten we employ Lucy Caulkins’ Unit of Study for Writing. This emphasizes the process of writing – planning, drafting, editing, and publishing. At the beginning of the year children are writing by drawing and labeling and by the end of the year, children are crafting stories, how-to-books, and persuasive letters. Children are introduced to the writer’s workshop and begin collaborating, conferencing, and peer-editing.

We believe children learn best by doing. We approach math using a blended learning model in which we integrate teacher-led math instruction with personalized iReady online learning. These practices, along with hands-on activities and games introduce students to math concepts and skills through a variety of fun and engaging lessons. Our young learners work individually or in small groups using manipulatives or are at the white board counting, adding, subtracting, regrouping, or creating models.

 

First Grade

 Our first grade curriculum includes Hebrew, Judaic studies, language arts and math integrated with social studies, science, and technology as well as physical education. We believe students thrive in an environment, which embraces the Arts, so our children enjoy art and weekly music classes. Through individual and small group instruction, our children are explicitly taught phonics to support their decoding and encoding skills coupled with a reading program resulting in reading and writing fluency. Our teachers design their curriculum for authentic learning. Our first grade students are authors who publish How To Books as well as descriptive writing pieces. The Ready Math/iReady is designed to engage student in mathematical reasoning and application of mathematics to solve read-work problems. We believe children learn best by doing and in math, our young learners work individually or in small groups using manipulatives, or are at the white board counting, adding, subtracting, regrouping or creating models.

 

Second Grade

 Our second grade curriculum builds on the strong academic foundation taught in first grade. In second grade, we explore how people can make a difference and leave a lasting impression on their community, country, and world. This theme ignites our children’s imagination about their impact on the world and we use this as an opportunity to inspire children to build strong character and work toward being good emissaries for the Jewish people. Students read autobiographies and biographies of extraordinary people and are tasked with writing their own autobiography as well as a biography. By studying these historical figures, students are introduced to geography as well as rich cultures from around the world. Equally exotic, our second grade students explore life cycles and ecosystems by planting gardens, watching life cycles of insects and their roles in ecosystems. In math, they continue to refine their number sense and are introduced to multiplication facts.

 

Third Grade

 Third grade students make leaps in cognitive development in which they begin grounding their observations in reason, expanding their vocabulary, and expressing their ideas verbally and in writing using sophisticated language. In our third grade program, we tailor our students experience to include writing workshops, engineering challenges, and hands-on experiential learning. In language arts, students are critically analyzing a variety of texts. Writing is integrated across the third grade program from Hebrew to science. Students are composing opinion pieces with evidentiary support and conducting research and based on the research, writing explanatory or descriptive texts. Children are fascinated by the natural world, especially the weather. The weather is always changing and as result, it begs the question why, which intrigues curious young minds. In science, third grade students complete a unit of study on the weather, its various conditions, and different patterns. The unit culminates with a visit from research scientists from the San Jose State University (SJSU) Fire Weather Research Lab and the launch of a weather balloon. Students learn about the different atmospheric conditions that the weather balloon collects and also learn firsthand about a device called a mobile radiosonde and how it works.

 

Fourth Grade

 In fourth grade, integrating knowledge and critical thinking are core components of the curriculum. Students perform a geographic and ecosystem analysis of California to explore how the topography, geology, and microclimates affect human activity through California history. Three-dimensional models of the topography of California created by students hang in our classrooms. In this transformation year, students work on becoming more effective critical thinkers and asking key questions that resonate through time. Students trace the evolution of the economy of California and focus on the role the Gold Rush played in transforming the state’s economy. In May, we take an overnight class trip to Vallecito, an important early mining town, where students tour Moaning caverns and wade into a river to pan for gold. Using their knowledge of California history, students critically examine the effects of the Dust Bowl on California’s migrant population and economy.

 

Fifth Grade

 Fifth grade is a transitional year in which students gain independence and learning takes on new meaning as it becomes more self-directed and open-ended. Open-ended questions provide our students with the opportunity to think deeply about a problem, collaborate and learn from one another, exercise creativity, engineer and test solutions and communicate and reflect on the process all the while developing leadership skills and confidence. Fifth grade students are gaining and applying mathematical concepts to authentic problems. They are manipulating variables, whole numbers, and fractions and continue to model mathematical problems using the Ready Math/iReady. In fifth grade, teachers work individually and use writer’s workshops to improve each student’s writing skills by working on structure, organization, mechanics, and technique.