Lower School Curriculum
Our approach to curriculum incorporates the use of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) where teachers use innovative projects, connecting disciplines and showing the significance to our world today.
Students learn to take risks, collaborate, solve real-world problems and engage in project-based learning experiences.
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Social Emotional Learning
- Physical Education
- Innovation and STEAM
- Visual Art
- Christ Skills
A multi-sensory, integrated curriculum of phonics, reading, grammar, writing and spelling is taught primarily using a program called “Reading and Writing Workshop”. The language arts program is based on a balanced literacy approach that couples instruction of strategies and skills with authentic reading and writing experiences. In workshop settings, students are taught through read-alouds and mini lessons, while teachers model all that good readers and writers do. This learning is scaffolded with shared and guided practice, and then students independently apply what has been taught as they read and write in authentic contexts.
Readers engage with many genres of reading, including personal narrative, realistic fiction, poetry, historical fiction and informational texts. Students learn to read, react, respond to, and engage with texts individually, with partners, and in small groups. In writing, students apply what has been taught as they plan, draft, revise, edit and publish their work, writing independently and with partners to produce texts with an audience in mind. By the end of their Lower School experience, students have acquired strategies to support future academic success, a passion for learning, and a lifelong love of reading and writing. In short, they emerge as confident and exuberant readers and writers.
Overview of Reading
Mini-Lesson: The teacher teaches a whole class lesson on a reading strategy or skill based on the needs of the students. Picture and chapter books are read as the teacher thinks aloud and demonstrates the skill.
Independent Work Time: Student: Students are reading self-selected ‘just right books’ as they practice what they were just taught in the mini-lesson. They are responding to what they read in a reader’s notebook. They may participate in book clubs to read and talk about books with a group of students
The Teacher: The teacher is conferencing with students about what they are reading. He or she is providing instruction in the small guided reading and strategy groups.
Sharing Time: Students share what they read and how they applied the day’s mini-lesson. This may be done as a whole class or in small groups. Written responses and book recommendations are shared as well.
With all of this, there are other important points that are being taught in the reading workshop.
- Comprehension-Understanding what is read.
- Fluency -The ability to read accurately at a moderate pace with expression and phrasing.
- Fiction –Literature created from the imagination.
- Nonfiction –Literature based in fact.
- Genre –Types and kinds of literature (examples: fantasy, historical fiction, realistic fiction, biography, poetry, summaries, instructions, information).
- Reading Stamina -The ability to slowly increase the amount of time spent focusing on reading.
- Craft and Structure-How word choices shape meaning and tone; how texts are organized
Overview of Writing
Just as students learn to read best by reading, writers learn best by writing. To make the most progress, students need ownership of their own writing, guidance from an adult writer, and the support of a community of fellow learners. Writing workshop (or writer’s workshop) gives kids the time to write by streamlining instructional moments.
1. Mini-lesson (5–10 minutes)
Mini-lessons looks closest to what we associate with traditional teaching. They are short, focused, direct. They typically fall into the categories of classroom procedures, the writer’s process, the qualities of good writing, and editing skills.
2. Writing (35–45 minutes, depending on your schedule)
Here kids are writing for a sustained time about topics of their choice. They are drafting, planning, rereading, revising, proofreading, and talking with other writers about their pieces — doing the real work of writing.
During independent writing, the workshop teacher is moving about the room, taking a couple of minutes at a time to check in with students as they write. These moments are opportunities to differentiate instruction by working one-on-one with a student. They are also chances to gather informal assessments of writers’ progress. Based on these assessments, a teacher can plan what to teach in a future mini-lesson. Or they can pull a small group together to address a common area of need.
4. Share Time (10–20 minutes)
This is a special time when writers can share their writing with the whole class. It might be a completed piece. It might be a draft that the student wants help problem-solving. It’s a time when students learn to give and receive responses to one another’s writing in a public setting.
TVS uses Singapore Math to deliver our math curriculum. Our math program develops a solid foundation of basic skills while also focusing on real-world application.
“At The Village School, our philosophy is to make math instruction interactive, thought-provoking, and appealing to all students by creating an engaging learning environment while making real-world connections. We foster confidence in our students by building a strong foundation and a deeper understanding of math processes in order to develop mathematical thinkers and innovative problem solvers.”
With the Singapore method, each math problem is part of a growing framework of knowledge and students are able to put what they are learning into context. And as students progress from year to year, Singapore math also returns to core topics with increasing depth in order to create an intentional pattern of scope and sequence. The Singapore curriculum also teaches students to use mental math, which enables them to solve more complicated problems quickly. Students build an understanding of how math connects to various disciplines, careers and our daily life. Teachers use direct instruction, both small and whole group, technology, games, manipulatives, and independent practice to reach all students and their learning styles.
A parent looking at Singapore math will see a focus on core techniques like place value, bar modeling, and number bonds rather than teaching students to use lots of different strategies to solve a problem. There are number of different ways to approach any math problem, but focusing one all of them can be overwhelming. Singapore chooses a few strategies that work, which allows students to focus on the math itself, rather than all of the procedures that could be used.
Students participate in discussions, collaborative activities, and experiments that take them through the scientific method and the engineering design process that cover Earth, Space, Physical and Life Sciences. The Science units of study in the Lower School are taught using project-based learning, this is an in-depth study or investigation of a topic or theme that allows students to follow their questions and to learn about a given topic of interest. Project work teaches students how to learn and leads students in becoming lifelong learners.
It is through relevant inquiry-based and project-based studies that students learn how to learn, how to make sense of what they are learning, how to apply what they learned, and how to share or teach from a place of true understanding about what they have learned. Our Science investigations are approached through this method of teaching and learning.
Social Studies curriculum at the TVS Lower School is an integrated project approach that allows children to participate in planning, discovering, researching, and sharing information. Starting on a local level and expanding to United States and World Geography/History, students will learn about maps, states, community, globes, government, presidents, topography, habitats, explorers, and current events. Many of these topics are reinforced through field trips and community resource people.
The Social Studies units of study in the Lower School are taught using project-based learning, this is an in-depth study or investigation of a topic or theme that allows students to follow their questions and to learn about a given topic of interest. Project work teaches students how to learn and leads students in becoming lifelong learners.
It is through relevant inquiry-based and project-based studies that students learn how to learn, how to make sense of what they are learning, how to apply what they learned, and how to share or teach from a place of true understanding about what they have learned. Our Social Studies investigations are approached through this method of teaching and learning
We believe that nurturing the needs of the whole child -- academic, social, emotional and physical --not only contributes to academic success but also develops core social-emotional competencies that are necessary for relationships and life-long learning. Using classroom management and teaching strategies from the Responsive Classroom approach, our teachers intentionally create communities that cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control are at the core. They also promote a set of academic competencies—academic mindset, perseverance, learning strategies, and academic behaviors in the classrooms that are supported by the social emotional pieces of Responsive Classroom.
In biweekly lessons with the school counselor, our students learn skills such as emotional literacy, resiliency, and problem-solving. Classroom and special area teachers weave social-emotional learning themes into daily academic life. We consider social-emotional skills to be instrumental in the achievement of our students' academic and personal goals.
At The Village School, we believe that the study of languages from an early age plays a vital role in preparing students to become engaged global citizens. Our three year old - through fifth-grade language program equips students linguistically and culturally, to communicate effectively in the world community. Instruction is presented using the whole-brain learning approach with students actively involved from the earliest ages. This is achieved in a safe environment with strong Christian values.
The physical education program offers opportunities for students to participate in a wide range of physical activities, learn the fundamentals of team and individual sports, learn personal fitness skills, and develop healthy lifestyle habits and interests. Students in the LS attend PE 2 days a week and they have recess two times a day.
Students learn the concepts behind how to solve problems using The Engineer Process and the common language engineers use to Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve and Present. Utilizing a mix of high tech materials and/or everyday items, students are encouraged to become an integral team member and turn real world exploration into tangible solutions.
Students use the Learning Commons to explore, innovate and design using low tech and high tech tools to accomplish curricular goals.
Students in PreK 3 through Fifth grade produce two- and three-dimensional art—both figurative and abstract—using creative-thinking and problem-solving in the process. Visual art builds self-esteem and positive attitudes. Every student uses a variety of materials, media, and techniques to produce original works of art, and students are given the opportunity to discuss their work as well as the artwork of peers, famous artists, and other cultures.
The music curriculum in the LS at TVS is rich and robust with all grades participating. Our curriculum is comprehensive where each student learns music history, music notation, performance skills on multiple instruments, and learns the wonderful power music has to enrich the mind and soul. Multiple performance opportunities spanning multiple musical styles will enrich each child throughout their student career at TVS.
The introduction of theatre begins in our Lower School program, where we learn about the exciting essentials of movement, acting, speech, and music ( if it is for a musical theatre piece). In our Theatre Wheel, we develop the beginning skills as an actor to learn when to lead and when to be actively listening and participating on stage. We start our classes with fun improvisational games as well as learning vocabulary that director's would use when being a part of a show. Through this we build self-confidence, poise, diction and foster new creativity.