Lower School Curriculum
The Pre-K through third grade reading program, Open Court, is a comprehensive reading, writing, and learning program, designed using thoroughly researched instructional reading strategies. The research base used to develop Open Court spans more than 45 years, significantly longer than most other reading programs. Its development included feedback, advice, and the best practices of 45 years of classroom experience. This experience, coupled with the most up-to-date educational and reading research, has resulted in that program that is highly effective.
Open Court is a program that
- develops confident reading by building a solid foundation through print and phonemic awareness activities and explicit, systematic phonics instruction.
- builds fluency through instruction that focuses on accuracy and rate.
- increases vocabulary knowledge through exposure, instruction, and the opportunity to apply these new words in reading, writing, and discussion.
- engages students in constructing meaning through the teaching and application of comprehension strategies and skills as well as discussions.
- incorporates writing and language arts skills, including spelling, vocabulary, and penmanship, through explicit instruction and meaningful practice applications.
- includes quality, thought-provoking fictional and nonfictional literature to create a classroom environment in which students explore, discuss, and research ideas.
- develops an understanding of the Inquiry process that provides students with the tools to become independent, self-directed learners.
- uses ePresentation instructional tools, online lessons, and integrates eInquiry for each unit for grades Pre-K-3.
Fayetteville Academy uses Progress in Mathematics for kindergarten through fifth grade, a research based curriculum that reflects the most current pedagogical elements identified through scientific research. This program places a key emphasis on the development of higher-order thinking skills and fluency while encouraging students to reflect on the mathematical process and patterns as well as their own ideas.
Progress in Mathematics is a program that:
- ensures careful sequencing of all topics, ensuring that there are no gaps in instruction.
- introduces concepts and skills in a concrete setting, proceeding to the abstract application.
- assist students in learning to value and communicate mathematically.
- helps students become confident of their mathematical abilities.
- incorporates the eight Mathematical Practice Standards
- make sense of problems & persevere in solving them.
- reason abstractly and quantitatively.
- construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
- model with mathematics.
- use appropriate tools strategically.
- attend to precision.
- look for and make use of structure.
- look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
The Lower School features a unique elementary STEAM program. Beginning in pre-Kindergarten, the students receive Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) instruction from two to three dedicated Lower School facilitators in our two state-of-the-art SmartLabs. One of our labs is designed for pre-Kindergarten through 2nd grade students and the other lab is home to our 3rd through 5th grade students.
SmartLab learners explore and apply a wide range of technologies to complete project-based work. In the lab, students develop and practice real-world skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, innovation and communication. Students create ePortfolios to document and present their work.
There are eight Systems of Technology explored in the SmartLab include:
- Mechanics & Structures
- Computer Graphics
- Scientific Data & Analysis
- Digital Communications
- Alternative & Renewable Energy
- Robotics & Control Technology
- Software Engineering
Our STEAM program enables students to seamlessly integrate STEAM skills, while applying this knowledge in a real world context. Students incorporate the use of 21st Century Skills to empower them in areas such as:
- Information Literacy – the ability to find useful and appropriate information in any given challenge
- Creativity & Innovation – exploration of imagination; refining and improving original ideas
- Collaboration – working together to share, advocate, and compromise on issues critical to success
- Problem Solving – experimentation of new and familiar concepts while processing information until a viable solution is reached
- Communication – ability to read, write, present, and comprehend ideas between a variety of mediums and audiences
- Responsible Citizenship – demonstration of proper technology use, global awareness, and moral capacity in and outside of the classroom
- Failing Forward – ability to learn from mistakes
In grades 1-5, Fayetteville Academy also utilizes Discovery Education’s online TechBook which not only ensures our students always have current content available to them at any time but also incorporates all varieties of learning styles into the presentation of content. Students can access their accounts at home for further reinforcement through a variety of activities and virtual explorations.
Additional opportunities are available for our students to continue developing these skills via our Lego Robotics and Science Olympiad teams which are offered as After School Enrichments.
One aspect of our social studies program for grades Pre-K-3 is built around research themes from the Open Court reading program. These themes include Helping Hands, Homes, Making a New Nation, and Taking a Stand.
The significant portion of our social studies, for grades Pre-K-5, covers all major disciplines such as geography, history, economics, government, and citizenship. In addition, our social studies program includes map skills and thinking skills.
Thinking skills are taught systematically at each level. Lower grade levels begin with units focused on the smaller, more intimate world of the young child. For example, the spiral begins with a study of families, moves to the school community, and then to the local community. From there, the program continues to expand the breadth or perimeter of social studies topics.Students in fourth grade utilize the Social Studies Alive online curriculum and students in fifth grade use Our Nation Studies Weekly. Students in these grades learn about America through the use of this curriculum.This expansive, spiraling nature of the elementary Social Studies Curriculum is consistent with the Academy’s priorities of developmentally appropriate practices, 21st Century Skills, and with our understanding of children pedagogy.
With the ever-increasing interdependence of nations, the study of a foreign language has become essential to the effectiveness of the United States in a global world. Students proficient in a foreign language will be prepared to function in that global world by acquiring needed communication skills and developing cultural understanding. Fayetteville Academy offers Spanish instruction to all Lower School students. Research indicates that the optimal window of opportunity for second language learning occurs between birth and age 10. Other benefits include fostering creativity, memory, and listening skills. Furthermore, studies show that students who have studied a foreign language attain higher scores on the Scholastic Achievement Tests (SAT) and the American College Test (ACT), particularly in the verbal area.
The Pre-K-5 program’s primary goal is the development of listening and speaking skills aimed at the progressive development of proficiency and cultural awareness through concrete experiences. Learners in Grades Pre K-5 begin with content topics close to the self, home, school, and community. Topics can include family, friends, home, house, etc. The topics taught at our school are selected from the school curriculum. They are introduced in a meaningful communicative context involving concrete activities aimed at developing language and reinforcing content from other disciplines. Age appropriate literature, arts, music, and games are also an integral part of the Lower School second language program.
All Lower School students receive weekly instruction in the use of computers and technology. Each of our labs is equipped with 20 computers so children have access to their own system during instruction. As computer literacy has joined the traditional college preparatory disciplines, we strive to provide our Lower School children with teachings designed to prepare them to use technology as an educational resource. Beginning in pre-kindergarten, children learn their way around the computer, from disk drives and monitors to keyboards, and gradually progress into higher levels of computer operation. Children learn to use applications such as word processing, and beginning fourth grade, are introduced to Microsoft’s PowerPoint. Educational software is utilized to support teachings of the academic disciplines, and students learn to use the power of the Internet to do research and find information.
The Wood Center for Technology and Learning provides our students and faculty with state-of-the-art access to computers and information technology. In addition to regularly scheduled computer classes, teachers take their classes to the lab for special lessons designed to enhance learning through the integration of technology into the curriculum. Chromebooks and iPads are utilized as additional tools, with students in grades 3-5 students receiving chromebooks on a 1:1 program.
Lower school students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade attend physical education classes twice weekly in one of our two modern gymnasiums. Students also have recess daily on the Lower School playground, and this time provides children with some unstructured time to enjoy the playground equipment with classmates. Physical education, however, is a structured period of physical activity during which children perform age appropriate conditioning exercises and develop their physical skills under the supervision of a physical education specialist. The program also incorporates the President’s Physical Fitness Award Program. Children establish personal goals for improvement at the beginning of the school year and work to attain them throughout the year. At the end of the school year, children who meet or exceed their goals receive formal recognition through an award presentation ceremony.
Lower School art is taught on a weekly basis to students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. While art activities are often part of the regular classroom program as teachers reinforce learning through this medium, art instruction is provided from a different prospective by the art instructor, that of the art specialist. Students explore art through a variety of media, providing them with hands-on experiences designed to allow creative expressions of ideas, emotions, thoughts, and mental images.
Music is part of the Lower School routine. Student learning is often reinforced in the classroom through singing and movement. All Lower School students also attend music class weekly. During music class students are exposed to a variety of musical styles through listening, singing and playing instruments. The music curriculum is designed with the age of the students in mind. Therefore every grade level has a separate curriculum suited for their personal growth and developmental skill level. As students move through the Lower School Music program, they learn music theory, aural training skills, music history and more! We also have an extensive ukulele program and utilize the Orff Shulwerk method which incorporates xylophones, metallophones, glockenspiels and hand percussion to create instrumental patterns, reinforce music literacy, and play songs as an ensemble. Singing is an integral part of Lower School music as children explore the foundations of correct vocal technique through the discovery of the head tone, partner songs, rounds, and the use of harmony. Every child in the Lower School performs throughout the year. During performances students might be singing, playing instruments, or both! Every other year, the entire Lower School will put on a full musical production complete with costumes, lights, and sets.
Students wishing to learn more advanced theory and singing skills are encouraged to enroll in our Lower School Chorus which meets once a week after school. The Lower School Chorus and Beginning Chorus perform throughout the year. The Lower School Chorus often joins the Junior Varsity and Varsity Choruses (7th – 12th graders) in their performances both on and off campus.
The Lower School Media Center provides children access to well over 6,000 volumes of children’s literature, in addition to a wealth of other media resources such as periodicals, audiovisual materials, and research and reference materials. All Lower School students visit the Media Center weekly with their class, and we encourage additional visits before and after school.