Lower Elementary or Beginner

Our morning mixed age lower elementary class is a beginner elementary class focusing on learning oral French or Spanish, and building vocabulary and oral comprehension and communication across subject areas. We conduct language arts, science, social studies and math lessons in the target language.  We focus on learning French or Spanish and developing vocabulary using a variety of methods through play, games, songs, storytelling, total  physical response, drama, experiential learning, and calendar and circle times.  Our books for young children come from France, Quebec, Spain, and the Americas. One of this year's language texts is Tatou, le matou and was chosen in part for its sensorial approach to teaching French through story telling and the five senses of sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. Tatou, a little cat, is the main character of the text. We average 2.5 hours of language instruction per day or 12.5 hours per week.  

MATH: The mixed grade beginner language class students do math at grade level in small groups or individually.

The afternoon block concentrates on English language arts, additional math, and the humanities (social studies and the arts) taught in the afternoon block.  

English Language Arts is a literature rich and phonics based program. For specifics see below.

Math concepts across the grades are taught and developed in both languages through different technics. Morning target language math uses calendar math and hands-on manipulatives and grade level native text books.  Afternoon English math emphasizes spacial reasoning and pattern recognition through puzzles, math games, and block play, while English math terminology is gained through math stories.  Skip counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s is done in both languages.  Math is also integrated through music and cooking.  A strong foundation of number sense, analytical reasoning, and understanding of practical math concepts is built into the whole curriculum including play.  

From second grade on, math moves from manipulatives to a French or Spanish math textbook, though math manipulatives are still be used in the classroom.  In middle school, Pre-Algebra and High School Algebra I is taught in English

Sciencelike math, is integrated into the morning and afternoon blocks, and is further integrated into social studies, math, and language arts with nature and science stories. The early elementary students concentrate on observing the natural world. Examples of field trips have been Apple Picking, exploring Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens or the Science Museum of Virginia, and boating and hiking on the James River. 

Humanities/Social Studies: Heartwood Grove's curriculum, by definition, is infused in the humanities.  In becoming bilingual, our students naturally learn of the cultures of the Francophone and Hispanic worlds and understand early that people from around the globe speak different languages and have different cultures.  Our social studies is also integrated into language arts through children's world literature, and science through an integrated focus on Animals around the World, learning about the geography of the continents and oceans. Going beyond the Hispanic and Francophone world, each year students do a unit on Russia, Israel, Ireland and/or other countries.  

The arts program includes appreciation of classic children's works such as Peter and the Wolf, the Nutcracker Ballet, and Carnival of the Animals. Students participate in learning traditional choral music in French and Spanish, integrated into community service.  The students incorporate music with community service when they perform at Windsor Memory Care.  Fine arts is integrated into the classroom experience and students have formal art classes with Miss Mara.

K-1 English Language Arts standards in Detail:
Story time and literature:
Classical children's fiction literature is a large part of our curriculum and includes fairy and folk tales, fables, myths, children's world literature, and age appropriate award winning literature. Fiction helps develop imagination, creativity, problem solving skills, and higher vocabularies. It allows for discussion opportunities, and creates the beginnings of literary analysis skills as a fun group activity.  Story time with great books presents to children greater complexity of style, sentence structure, and vocabulary than the books the child reads on his/her own. Studies show that the gap between literature that can be enjoyed, understood, appreciated, and discussed, and books the child can read independently continues until upper middle school.

Reading and Phonological Awareness: Students learn to read through phonics and a small core group of non-phonetic, high frequency sight words as needed. Students are taught to read before learning letter names, though many know the names upon entering kindergarten. 
 
Students apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words and demonstrate knowledge of one-to-one letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary sounds for all consonants and long and short vowels.
Students develop an understanding of syllables, sounds (phonemes), letter blending, and rhyming.

Students understand to follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page, but may explore in social studies that other alphabets and writing systems exist that follow different rules.

Spelling is introduced in first grade using Spelling Workout, which continues through middle school.  Spelling Workout integrates reading, punctuation, simple grammar, and editing.  A separate grammar study begins in 4th grade. 

Fluency and Comprehension:
Students have two weekly private reading lessons per week allowing for discussion of reading material and to improve comprehension and reading fluency. Students read phonetic, graded level or emergent-reader texts. Reading speed is assessed in mid fall and mid spring, though in a non-stressful atmosphere.
We have a variety of leveled readers in the classroom including A to Z leveled readers in French, Spanish, and English for K-5th, the Dolche high frequency word stories, other leveled readers, Dr. Seuss books, and early chapter books. 
In higher grades students read classic literature and Newbery award books.
  
Penmanship is practiced and students learn proper spacing of letters and words separated by spaces in print. The concentration is on the lowercase letters, though copy work incorporates the use of uppercase letters at the beginning of a sentence and the use of punctuation (a period or question mark) at the end of the sentence. (In second grade students will transition to cursive writing.)

Homework, Grades, and Testing:  There is no homework in Kindergarten and 1st grade.  Homework starts in 4th grade. Grades are not given until middle school, but we have two parent teacher conferences per year.
Students do take the National French Exam beginning in 2nd grade and the National Spanish Exam in 6th, the earliest it can be taken. Using the optional PALS program we have the ability to evaluate Spanish and English grade level language arts, but no grade will be assigned.  The program allows students to work at their own pace, but the evaluations are optional.

Recess and Free Play:
While many schools are reducing or eliminating recess and play, we offer morning and afternoon recess or active periods everyday throughout elementary and middle school. For families choosing the half-day kindergarten option there will be one morning recess or PE everyday. These periods are a minimum of 20 minutes, but we are flexible enough to extend the time if we feel students need to get out some extra energy, or just if it is a lovely day outside. There are so many articles on the benefits of play. For just a few see below.
"The physical educators' society recommends at least one 20-minute recess daily. The CDC and U.S. Dept. of Agriculture recommend recess shortly before lunch, as this appears to result in children eating more fruits and vegetables..."

For full article and additional article on recess see:
http://cjonline.com/news/2015-07-18/elementaries-not-offering-enough-recess-advocates-say

http://pathwaystofamilywellness.org/Children-s-Health-Wellness/why-kids-need-recess.html