Elementary School Overview
CIC’s elementary division has one class per grade level from Pre-Nursery (2 and 3 year olds) to Grade 5 (10 and 11 year-olds). The students are served by a faculty of 20 teachers and 7 full-time assistants.
Classroom teachers are responsible for the teaching and learning of mathematics, language arts, science, humanities, and technology. All other curriculum areas are taught by trained specialist teachers. The ES schedule is made up of eight forty-five minute lessons per day, and, each elementary class teacher has on average two forty-five minute non-contact periods each day. One day a week these non-contact times are devoted to collaborative planning, an activity that takes place in team groupings: PN – PK, K-2, and 3-5.
The elementary curriculum is standards-based and each grade level has specified learning outcomes for each subject area. CIC is utilizing standards published by McRel International. These standards allow not only a focus on academic rigor, but also personalization of learning.
CIC implements an inquiry based curriculum. This means that each grade level from Kindergarten – Grade 5 will be teaching 6 transdisciplinary units of inquiry within each academic year (6-10 weeks per unit). It starts at N and PK by teachers teaching four of these units. Each transdisciplinary unit corresponds with one of the themes below:
- Who we are
- Where we are in time and place
- How we express ourselves
- How the world works
- How we organize ourselves
- Sharing the planet
Teachers are currently developing unit titles, central ideas, and lines of inquiry for all six transdisciplinary units from K – G5.
Students and teachers develop meaningful lines of inquiry that guide, shape and formulate enduring understandings. Mathematics is taught as a stand-alone subject area as is phonemic awareness and phonics. However, all other knowledge, skills, and concepts are integrated into each of the six transdisciplinary Units of Inquiry as well as mathematics and language arts when lines of inquiry can be drawn.
The IB Learner Profile guides CIC’s approach to character education. All members of the learning community are expected to model the ten attributes outlined below:
- Risk Taker
Elementary Schemes and Core Text
CIC does not promote activity-based learning or text book coverage. Teachers do however have a wide selection of materials that they can draw upon to facilitate student learning with inquiry as the focus. In order to promote common practice among teachers, some programs in the curriculum are implemented by the teachers as directed by the school administrators.
90 minute blocks of instruction each day
CIC follows the Investigations program, which represents the culmination of over 20 years of research and development aimed at improving the teaching and learning of elementary mathematics.
Six major goals guided the development of Investigations. The program is designed to:
- Support students to make sense of mathematics and learn that they can be mathematical thinkers
- Focus on computational fluency with whole numbers as a major goal of the elementary grades
- Provide substantive work in important areas of mathematics—rational numbers, geometry, measurement, data, and early algebra—and connections among them
- Emphasize reasoning about mathematical ideas
- Communicate mathematics content and pedagogy to teachers
- Engage the range of learners in understanding mathematics.
What does a typical math class look like?
- 10 minute math or class routine
- Discussing math concepts
- Asking questions
- Working solo, with a partner, or in a group on math tasks
- Solving tasks in the student activity book
- Engaging in the Math Workshop, Centers, Games
- Sharing ideas, clear up misconceptions
- Reviewing, closing, reflecting, and homework
CIC has a diverse array of math resources that are used to help students visualize mathematical concepts.
Rocket Math: Rocket Math is a ten-minutes-a-day, paper and pencil, worksheet-based, supplemental, math facts practice curriculum. It is a uniquely structured curriculum for the sequential practice and mastery of math facts.
IXL Math: IXL.com (from “I excel”) is a math practice website for elementary school students through Grade Seven. The site is subscriptio-based, and all students at CIC have a password and are able to login at home or here at school. The site has unlimited questions on hundreds of math topics and a comprehensive reporting system. CIC teachers use this as a resource.
Links to all Investigations Units students will learn this year:
90 minute blocks of instruction each day
Open Court: From PK – Grade 1 CIC follows the Open Court Program. Teachers use the daily phonics instruction cards for thirty minutes each day, and this is stand-alone phonics instruction. The thematic units outlined in the Open Court program have been incorporated into the PYP Units of Inquiry at each of these grade levels.
Reading A-Z: This online subscription provides a set of leveled books that correspond with each letter of the alphabet. There are non-fiction and fiction titles at each level as well as a teacher guide and supporting student worksheets. Some of these titles have been banded and assigned to a specific grade level; others are for general use.
Home Reading: All elementary students participate in a daily home reading program. Students select and read a book and record their responses in a home reading diary/log. The home reading books are made up of texts from the following publications: Sunshine Reading Series, Literacy 2000, Benchmark Books, and RAZ Kids for students in Kg-5.
Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills: The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) is a set of standardized, individually-administered measures of early literacy development. The indicators are designed to be short (one minute) fluency measures used to regularly monitor the development of pre-reading and early reading skills. The measures were developed upon the essential early literacy domains discussed in both the National Reading Panel (2000) and National Research Council (1998) reports to assess student development in phonological awareness, alphabetic understanding, and automaticity and fluency. Each measure has been thoroughly researched and demonstrated to be reliable and valid indicators of early literacy development and predictive of later reading proficiency to aid in the early identification of students who are not progressing as expected. CIC tests students three times a year. The first is done in August/September, and the results are used to choose appropriate books for home reading and to guide reading instruction. The second is done in January to monitor student progress and guide reading instruction. The final assment is completed in May and the results are used to place students in the appropriate grade lever for the following school year.
Developmental Reading Assessments (DRA): All grade level teachers from Kinder – Grade Five have a complete DRA kit in the classroom to use at their discretion for on-going reading assessment. Teachers are encouraged to use DRAs each year as a resource. CIC has a wide range of reading materials including the following: Benchmark guided reading books, Leveled reading A-Z books, Basal readers, Sets of novels for literature circles, wide selection of reproducible books that promote the teaching of reading skills and reading strategies.
Measures of Academic Achievement (MAP): All students in grades 3-5 in the elementary school take the MAP test three times a year. The MAP test is an adaptive test that evaluates each child as an individual, and the results are used by administration and teachers to build stronger units of instruction based on the data. The test is normative and is taken on the computer. Grade Two students take the MAP test in May to provide us with base-line data on students preparing for Grade 3 the following year. MAP scores are shared with parents and students all three times of the year.
Spelling Journal Process: The Spelling Journal Process is a pedagogical approach to spelling that provides teachers with a tool to individualize spelling lists and make the important link between spelling and writing. Teachers use the First Steps Developmental Spelling Continuum to identify a student’s developmental stage and to guide spelling instruction.
6+1 Traits of Writing: The six plus one traits is an approach to teaching and assessing writing that is used in the elementary school. It provides a vocabulary that all teachers from Kinder – G5 use to describe their vision of what good writing looks like. The six plus one traits link in with the writing process and are:
- Sentence Fluency
- Word Choice
CIC has a lot of the 6+1 traits support materials and all teachers receive training on this approach to writing using the Ruth Culham Professional Development Video Series.
Writer’s Notebook: All students from Grade 3 – 5 use a writer’s notebook. Teachers at CIC have created a set of standard pages that are inserted in the front of each student’s writer’s notebook, and these pages guide and inform student writing, provide scaffolding materials for students as they write and create a common approach to writing across the upper elementary grade levels. A scaled down version of the writer’s notebook is used in Grades One and Two.
Science and Humanities
90 minutes of instruction with Units of Inquiry each day
CIC has a wide selection of resources that teachers can draw upon to teach these subject areas. We do not follow a set scheme in either area. CIC does n however have a full scope and sequence for both humanities and science that are based on US standards. Our science and humanities curricula are built into our Units of Inquiry and all standards are met through the inquiry process.
The nature of the student population at CIC makes it necessary for all teachers to be proficient at differentiating their classes. CIC utilizes Carol Ann Tomlinson’s work on differentiated instruction to guide and inform teachers about differentiation strategies that work.
Student Support Services
Individual programs are developed to provide an optimal match between a student’s ability and educational programming. The Student Support Service Department supports students with mild learning disabilities, or students that need a “boost” to help support them in the regular classroom. Students that face academic or behavioral problems are discussed and evaluated in a Student Concerns Meeting. A specific plan for each individual child is then developed and implemented by the classroom teacher(s).
CIC strongly believes in inclusive practices for learning of languages. The majority of students at CIC are ESOL students. Currently, the beginning ESOL students are given extra support in the ESOL class, and the intermediate and advanced students are in the mainstream class with push-in support when appropriate. Our teachers are proficient in the use of ESOL strategies that will allow students to access the curriculum. A resource bank of such strategies is in place, and classroom teachers have access to the strategies. The ESOL Department works directly with classroom teachers to ensure best practices are in place in every classroom.
Students in Grades PN-5 enjoy a wide variety of special classes. All students take part in p.e., music, art, library, and Spanish Language (PrK-5), and our PreN-K students all participate in our newly developed Sensory Motor Integration Program, taught by a private Occupational Therapist. CIC also outsources private Occupational Therapy as well as Speech and Language Development lessons with private licensed specialists. Private sessions are often held on campus for those students identified in need of these services.
Sensory Motor Integration: As part of CIC’s dedication to whole-child education, CIC employs the Sensory Motor Intergration Program from Pre-nursery through to Grade One. This program helps children enhance visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, and fine motor skills. It is a child-centered learning approach that uses simultaneous multi-sensory activities to promote appropriate muscular and brain development. The classes are provided by a licensed occupational therapist in a forty-five minute session. We have excellent facilities for this program. Private sessions for individual students can be arranged.