Lower School Curriculum

Lower School curriculum includes intensive Language Arts work, focused on developing strong reading and writing skills. Children are exposed to high-quality literature, and are taught to read deeply into texts, coaxing out their deeper meanings. An average school day includes work in foreign language, science, social studies and physical education, as well as time in the math lab and in our finely developed visual art and music studios. St. Francis has a successful history of meeting the needs of learners all along the continuum, always striving to provide the best possible instruction for each and every student. See below of specific overviews by department.

SCIENCE DEPARTMENT CURRICULUM STATEMENT
Vision: The Thrill of Discovery
In our curriculum we strive to instill both a love of learning science as well as a scientific way of thinking. Students learn the skills needed to experience the thrill of discovery as they acquire the information necessary for scientific literacy. The desired result is for students to apply their scientific knowledge and skills when making personal decisions in their everyday lives.

Student goals
Students will:

  • Learn content in the various fields of science: science process, life science, physical science, earth science, and ecology/environmental science.
  • Achieve the thinking skills associated with science: process skills (scientific method), critical response skills (data interpretation), manipulative skills (using equipment), and communication skills (oral and written).
  • Experience learning opportunities in various environments including the classroom, the science laboratory, the rural 64-acre campus, the campus gardens, field trips, and the computer lab.
  • Participate in both traditional and experiential (hands-on) activities.

MATH DEPARTMENT CURRICULUM STATEMENT
Vision: Success-Oriented Growth

By creating and presenting a differentiated and challenging curriculum, we serve the mathematical growth of each student. Our students acquire core mathematical content in a comfortable, success-oriented environment. In the process, they also develop problem solving, communication, and interpersonal skills. As a result, they become enthusiastic, independent, self-motivated learners.

Student goals
Students will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the goals outlined in the NCTM Principles and Standards
  • Become flexible problem solvers while working with engaging and challenging mathematical problems
  • Utilize technology to enhance learning and problem solving
  • Develop into independent, life-long learners with appropriately high expectations

LANGUAGE ARTS DEPARTMENT CURRICULUM STATEMENT
Vision: The Beauty of Language, The Diversity of Human Knowledge
The language arts program fosters a deep appreciation for the beauty of language while honing the student’s own reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Our students are given a solid foundation, consistent opportunities, and the resources to develop the language skills they need to pursue life’s goals and to participate fully as informed, productive members of society. Our students learn to express themselves with clarity, logic, persuasiveness, creativity and accuracy. By reading thoughtfully in a wide range of print and non-print texts, students gain access to the diversity of human knowledge. By writing and speaking articulately, they are able to add to it, respectfully challenge it, publish it and celebrate it.

Student goals
Students will:

  • Learn to read for various purposes (study, research, entertainment) and demonstrate comprehension through discussion and writing
  • Identify literary genres and story elements (plot, character, setting, and theme)
  • Apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g. sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics)
  • Build vocabulary from diverse content areas
  • Become adept at the writing process by employing a wide range of strategies as they compose to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes
  • Learn Standard English grammar, the parts of speech and spelling via focused writing practice
  • Demonstrate competence in using speaking and listening as tools for learning

WORLD LANGUAGES DEPARTMENT CURRICULUM STATEMENT
Vision: A Global Perspective
In the world languages program, we strive to produce linguistically confident students who understand the importance of a global perspective. From a young age, our students gain a love of languages and an experience of other cultures. We emphasize the knowledge and skills necessary for spoken and written communication in the target languages and involve the students in age-appropriate activities, ranging from songs and oral language games to the study of literature. We integrate cultural principles and practices into our lessons so that cultural understanding is experienced as a natural part of language learning.

Student Goals
Students will:

  • Engage in conversation, exchange ideas, or negotiate meaning (through words, expressions and gestures) with another person in the target language
  • Understand information that may be read, heard, or viewed in the target language, through a variety of media
  • Express ideas or deliver information in the target language through speaking or writing
  • Learn and develop an appreciation for the customs, traditions, and perspectives of other cultures
  • Compare, contrast, and investigate their native and target languages, cultures, and history
  • Make connections between foreign language and other subject areas

FINE ARTS DEPARTMENT CURRICULUM STATEMENT
Vision: Aesthetic Awareness and Cultural Connection
The Fine Arts of St. Francis School encompass the areas of art, humanities, and music. We strive to create a safe environment that fosters confident and creative performers. We encourage our students to create original and meaningful artwork, unique musical compositions, and to become thoughtful, compassionate people who have a deeper appreciation and understanding for the life of artists and for life itself. All three disciplines offer avenues to enhance a child’s aesthetic awareness while making cultural connections to the arts.

Student goals
Students will:

  • Increase their knowledge of the arts and the relationship between these disciplines
  • Be given opportunities for experimentation, manipulation, and skill acquisition through creating, performing, and observing
  • Be guided towards awareness of the qualities in the arts that give it meaning through practice in aesthetic judgment
  • Develop an understanding and appreciation of creativity and artistic ability as a contribution to self and society

SOCIAL STUDIES DEPARTMENT CURRICULUM STATEMENT
Vision: The Forces that Shape our World
Through a curriculum of ever-widening horizons, the social studies program introduces students to those forces that have shaped our world, including culture, politics, economics, and geography. As they progress academically, students analyze local, national, and world history, gaining an increasingly sophisticated understanding of trends within and beyond the United States. Cultivating an appreciation for the world’s myriad cultures is a prime objective of the social studies program. Equally important is the honing of research, writing, and critical thinking skills, all of which allow our students to make a reasoned interpretation of both the past and the complex world around them.

Student goals
Students will:

  • Explore and learn to appreciate a range of cultures, both past and present
  • Examine the evolution and impact of different political philosophies and economic systems
  • Understand the relationship between people and their environments while acquiring a working knowledge of world geography
  • Recognize cause, effect, and sequence in historical events
  • Understand the role of science, technology, and individual initiative or genius in shaping the course of history
  • Learn to gather and assess information, using it persuasively both orally and in writing
  • Demonstrate through writing, either creative or expository, knowledge of people, places, and eras
  • Acquire a sense of civic responsibility and an understanding of our nation’s place in history

PHYSICAL EDUCATION DEPARTMENT CURRICULUM STATEMENT
Curriculum Overview: Kindergarten – 2nd Grade

  • Learn to perform specific movement skills safely and with competence
  • Follow directions and engage in creative play
  • Demonstrate the ability to be in control during weight bearing activities
  • Practice in the sequencing of skills
  • Develop coordination skills through practice drills and lead up games (throwing, catching, striking, kicking)
  • Refine spatial awareness

Curriculum Overview: 3rd – 4th Grade

  • Perform basic and advanced movements with safety and competence
  • Use concepts and principles in the development of motor skills
  • Engage in activities which develop strength, flexibility and cardio-vascular fitness
  • Understand the responsibilities of team participation
  • Play games of increasing complexity