FCS has adopted a Common Core State Standards (CCSS) based math program that focuses on depth rather than breadth, building conceptual foundations, and most importantly, engagement in the process and application of math concepts. Math Expressions (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) has been designed to reflect the way children learn mathematics. It provides a solid conceptual base that is grounded in over 20 years of research. Students are expected to problem solve, explain their thinking, and prove their answers. Each unit begins with an inquiry-based activity to activate thinking, access prior knowledge, and address preconceptions. Foundational to our mathematics instruction is the understanding that there are multiple paths to solving a problem. Providing a math learning environment that goes beyond memorization, rote learning, and basic computation allows students to learn with understanding which then leads to transference and the ability to apply learning in new situations.
English language arts (ELA) curriculum reflects a workshop framework: students reading and writing across genres, making textual connections, and communicating those ideas in various ways. Students read at their independent reading levels and engage in guided reading at their instructional level. They are expected to respond orally and in writing to the texts they read. This framework provides students with instruction in the many genres of texts, strategies for metacognition, and opportunities to practice these skills. Students set personal goals for becoming better readers and writers; through extensive and close reading, guided reading, conferring and daily writing students actively work toward achieving those goals. This approach emphasizes skill development (phonics, comprehension, text structures, etc.) with a particular focus on vocabulary development (the greatest predictor of academic achievement) and learning the language of workshop.
Social studies and science curriculum are California standards and Next Gen standards-based with GLAD strategies embedded. They are both published by UpLevel. CCSS ELA standards play an integral part in the instruction. Of key importance in the UpLevel curriculum is that students learn how to learn, their learning capacity is increased, and they are able to comprehend new ideas and concepts faster. All elementary students receive a weekly Time for Kids. Teachers use TFK to discuss current events and further extend social studies learning. Field trips, projects, labs, engineering kits, STEAM nights, and other media and materials provide enrichment for these content areas.
Word Study and Grammar help students recognize patterns in the English language to inform their reading and writing. Word Study is very different from the traditional spelling test. Word Study focuses on identifying the spelling and meaning patterns in the English language to learn how to spell and infer meaning of words so that students can transfer this knowledge to previously unknown and unseen words. Grammar is taught within context so that students learn to recognize how grammar changes meaning.
The California CCSS language standards require students to learn to print legibly, and beginning in grade three, write legibly in cursive. We use a D’Nealian Handwriting program (Scott Foresman) that begins with printing and, in later grades, transitions into cursive. D’Nealian printing provides a natural progression into cursive writing. Even in this age of technology, it is important for individuals to be able to handwrite legibly. Dr. William Klemm (2013), a professor of neuroscience at Texas A & M University, describes the many developmental and psychological benefits of learning cursive including sensory-motor coordination, cognitive demand which benefits thinking processes, the engagement of both hemispheres of the brain, and developing tactics for learning in general.
The kindergarten Bible program, Biblical Choices for a New Generation (Standard Publishing), is focused on character building through Old and New Testament stories and learning scripture. Beginning in first grade Building on the Rock, published by Summit Ministries, not only focuses on character development but on understanding the foundations of a Christian worldview through the building of the House of Truth. The content of the curriculum affirms the metanarrative of Scripture: (1) God created all things good. At creation, all things were in harmony. (2) At the Fall (Genesis 3), the whole created order fell into disharmony due to the disobedience of man. (3) In the person of Jesus Christ, God began the process of redemption and renewal. (4) In the end, God will restore all things through his Son Jesus Christ.
We believe the biblical metanarrative is manifested in four key relationships of creation. (1) Fellowship: The relationship between God and man. God created man for relationship with Himself; that relationship was broken because of sin; that relationship is restored through Jesus Christ. (2) Image-bearers: Man was created as whole and healthy being, as an imagebearer of God; sin brought disharmony and conflict into the life and heart of man. Redemption through Jesus Christ begins the healing process within man. (3) Servanthood: God created man for harmonious and loving relationships with other people; sin is the cause of disharmony and discord among people; part of restoring mission of Jesus Christ is to bring people back into harmonious relationship with one another. (4) Stewardship: God placed the whole created order under the rule and care of His image-bearers (Genesis 1); with the Fall, the relationship between man and the rest of the created order was marred; In Jesus Christ, God continues to call His image-bearers to work to preserve and protect the created order.
In the interest of developing the whole child, all students receive twice weekly instruction in both music (Koda´ly Method) and physical education. Chromebook carts are provided for every grade level and are used to integrate web-based applications into the teaching and learning both in classrooms and at home. In third grade, students learn to play the recorder. Students may then opt to participate in either symphonic band or hand bells beginning in the fourth grade in addition to classroom music. All students in fourth and fifth grades learn to sing chorally and perform at different events during the year.
Big-School Opportunities in a Small-School Environment