Overview of Elementary Academic ProgramMath:
The WSSD is committed to delivering a rigorous math curriculum which meets the requirements of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics as well as the Pennsylvania Academic Standards. Grades K-8 use the Math in Focus program. Math in Focus builds student understanding of math concepts through experience and problem solving. The program is a focused, coherent curriculum that unfolds math concepts in a deliberate order so that students have the opportunity to develop ownership of each math concept in depth before studying more sophisticated math concepts. Each math concept is developed through a philosophy of concrete experience leading to visual understanding and then abstraction. An equal emphasis is placed on conceptual understanding and fluency with skills. Through the use of concrete and pictorial representations, students are provided the tools needed to work through multi-step and non-routine problems.
The language arts program, which is aligned with Pennsylvania Academic Standards, uses a balanced and integrated approach to teaching listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Instruction is geared to support students' individual needs, interests, and learning styles. Reading is taught using the Pearson Reading Street program in grades one through three. Students read a wide range of non-fiction and fiction (including novels) across all grade levels. Teachers in upper grades incorporate a Reading Workshop approach with skill and strategy instruction aligned with the new PA Core Standards. Writing instruction empowers students to become effective, engaged, and reflective writers who view writing as a form of communication that is necessary, meaningful, and pleasurable. Students are taught to use a writing rubric to develop focus, content, organization, style, and conventions. Across the grade levels, students are instructed to write poetry, narrative, expository, and persuasive pieces, which may be integrated with library research. Students in kindergarten through third grade learn printing and cursive writing using the Handwriting Without Tears program.
The curriculum addresses themes of self, community, geography, history, civics, and economics. Components include factual content, skills, experiences, perspectives, and values. Our social studies program meets the standards of the National Council for the Social Studies. In the primary grades, students explore the themes of neighborhoods and communities within the framework of the hands-on, interactive Nystrom program. In fourth and fifth grades, students learn about United States geography and history using the Houghton-Mifflin social studies program.
Classroom science instruction is kit-based and reflects a constructivist, hands-on approach to science learning. In grade one, students are introduced to the concept of weather and how it affects their lives, and they investigate the properties of common solids and liquids. In grade two, students expand their understanding of solids, liquids, and gases and investigate changes in state. They also study the life cycles of insects and the stages of metamorphosis. In grade three, students observe the stages in the life cycle of a plant, and they explore the differences and similarities between rocks and minerals. Land, water, and electrical circuits are the focus of study in grade four. Fifth grade students study ecosystems and cell structure.Technology:Technology education consists of weekly instruction in the computer lab and experience working with computers in the classrooms. Computer use is integrated across the curriculum.Computer instruction includes computer identification skills, application skills, keyboarding skills,creating databases, creating spreadsheets, using painting/drawing tools, using multimedia tools, conducting research/accessing information, exploring related ethical issues, and exploring telecommunications.