- Why a K-8 School?
- How we Teach – the Socratic Method
- Curriculum Overview K-5
- Curriculum Overview 6-8
- Specialist Curriculum Overview
- Professional Development
- Field Studies/Outdoor Education
- Our Library Program
- Learning Specialist
- School Psychologist
- Extended Day Program and Clubs
- Community Service Program
SPECIALISTS CURRICULUM OVERVIEW
Art in the Kindergarten through Fourth Grade
Our program is designed to create a safe space in which students are encouraged to explore, create, experiment and learn.
Our objectives are:
• To nurture creativity
• To explore with a wide variety of media
• To teach basic skills and techniques
• To familiarize students with the language of art
• To evoke an appreciation of art
• To discuss fundamental concepts
• To develop individuality
• To acquaint students with the many movements and styles of art
• To integrate as often as possible with the classroom studies of the students
Throughout the year we focus on artists, techniques, and traditions from around the globe. We draw from many cultures with the intention of connecting to people who are different, learning new techniques, enriching our experience and inspiring creative thought. We will follow a developmentally appropriate curriculum depending on the grade and interests of the students. We will also use a spiral curriculum to touch on certain concepts, for example, representing what we see. Through self-portraits, still life drawings, figure drawings, garden watercolor, and sculpture the students develop a deeper understanding of observational art.
Throughout the year we will explore some of the following:
Elements of design (line, form, value, texture, color, pattern, movement)
Collage and Decoupage
Still life studies
Portraits and Self Portraits
Artistic Movements (i.e. expressionism, cubism, etc.)
Individual Artists (Frida Kahlo, Van Gogh, Kandinsky, etc.)
ART IN THE FIFTH THROUGH EIGHTH GRADE
The goal of the Upper School Art program is to instill in students an appreciation of art, both as creators and as viewers. This is achieved through instruction in specific skills, introduction to a broad range of media and materials, and exposure to the art of different times and cultures.
Art class focuses on students creating artwork, improving technical skills, experimenting with different media, critiquing their work informally, and having the opportunity to show their work on an ongoing basis. Students also view the work of many artists and cultures throughout history, thus developing an understanding of what goes into the making of art, a greater understanding of how life and art connect, and a sense of their own creative process.
A main project for Sixth Graders is to study an artist of their choice, write a report on the artist, and make a piece of work in the style of that artist. The project culminates in an oral presentation to the class. The wealth of knowledge gained is built upon in Seventh and Eighth Grades.
Students are required to keep sketchbooks as a place to express themselves and practice/plan projects. These become logs of the year’s work, and students can look back through them to see how their skills have improved over the year.
There will be occasional homework – to watch a special show, make a few sketches, look up an artist online, or visit a museum exhibit.
Projects this year may include:
• Drawing: still life, self-portraits, landscapes, imaginary works
• Design: logos, posters, t-shirts, etc
• Painting: color mixing, watercolor, tempera, acrylic, sand painting
• Textiles: weaving, sewing
• Sculpture: wire, clay, paper mache, wood, junk
• Stone carving
Student work will be exhibited throughout the year in our gallery, located in the hallway of the theatre building. All grades display the spring semester’s artwork at the annual BPC Art Fair in late May/early June. This is an event that includes opportunities for children to also make art and craft projects at the fair to take home. Prospective parents are encouraged to attend.
GARDENING AND THE OUTDOOR CLASSROOM
KINDERGARTEN THROUGH EIGHTH GRADE
The Gardening Program is an extension of the Science Program and plays a key role in providing a hands-on practical laboratory for many subjects in Science as well as art, literature and history. All students participate in the garden by planting and harvesting. They also turn and sift the compost, make signs, and learn how to propagate plants. The Garden is mainly located behind the Fourth and Fifth Grade classrooms. All students have two hours of gardening per month in the “Outdoor Classroom.” Each class begins with students recording the date, weather, temperature and rainfall in the class garden journal. The students have an opportunity to observe the ecosystems in the garden, and they learn to recognize the cycle of regeneration that exists in nature. The activities of the classes are always dictated by the garden; we do what needs to be done depending on the season.
We have been working with the “Botany on Your Plate” curriculum since early 2001. The students are introduced to this curriculum in Kindergarten, and work with it throughout the grades. Students work in the classroom as well as the garden, investigating, identifying, and dissecting plants, and recording their observations in journals. By Fifth Grade students have a deep understanding of the botany of the plants we eat on a daily basis.
Recycling and Composting are also a part of the curriculum. Students are taught how to separate their trash into recyclable and compostable items, which they get to practice at lunch. The “Four R’s” are always a part of the curriculum: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot (composting).
Gardening continues in Sixth through Eighth Grades in the garden on the Upper School campus. The classes are divided into four group activities: gardening, landscaping, cooking, and composting. Students now work in individual journals recording the date, weather, temperature, and rainfall. They now use the metric system of measurement. Writing and drawing are also part of their journal keeping, and this work is part of their overall Science grade. Students use the same journal all three years and when they graduate, the journal is theirs to remind them of the important role they played in Black Pine Circle School’s outdoor environment.
THE LIBRARY AND THE LIBRARY PROGRAM
Our library program supports and promotes student reading and a life-long love of books. All students will be exposed to literature through story telling, book talks, and author readings. Books will be celebrated and when possible introduced through a variety of methods. Students will cover a wide range of genres in fiction and non-fiction to help them discover the kinds of books they love to read. Author birthdays are celebrated every month, including a review of the authors’ literature.
All students learn to be active users of the library. This includes how to use shelf markers, read spine labels, know library circulation procedures, understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction books, and become confident making independent reading selections. Book awards (Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King, etc.) are discussed in detail. When required for class or homework, students will learn to conduct research in the library using the most appropriate tools, including encyclopedias (print and electronic) and other reference materials. Parts of a book (i.e., contents and index) are also examined. Students will learn to find books within our collection through the electronic catalog and these skills will enable them to locate information within any library.
The library also hosts all-school events to facilitate literacy on campus. These events include, but are not limited to, an all-school book swap, a Book Faire, participation in the “California Young Reader Medal” program, and book donations to needy communities.
Our library is an inviting place where reading and information literacy is honored. In addition to regular class visits to the library, students may choose to visit the library during lunchtime for private reading, extra story time, individual research assistance, and even just talking one-on-one with the librarian about a favorite book.
THE MATH ENRICHMENT PROGRAM
Black Pine Circle School values mathematics and teaches students the importance of mathematics in their daily lives. In addition to regular math lessons with the core teachers, students meet with a math specialist once a week.
The essential point of this program is to help students “make sense of mathematics” and to teach them to use it as a tool for reasoning and problem solving.
Problems that students solve are carefully crafted and they often come from children’s everyday lives. Students often work with a partner or in a small group setting where they can explore problems and craft solutions together. As a class, we discuss alternative strategies, and look for different solutions in an environment where it is safe to take risks. Problems are often ”open ended,” meaning that there is not only one correct answer. A goal is not to teach how to solve this or that kind of problem, but to foster a deep conceptual understanding of essential mathematical ideas and strategies.
Numbers are abstract for young children. Using manipulatives such as pattern blocks, teddy bears and scales helps young mathematicians get a better understanding of numbers and other mathematical concepts. As students get older, they start replacing concrete objects with models (e.g. drawings, graphs, tables, open number lines, function machines). With a use of models and carefully picked math puzzles and problems, students are introduced to some big algebraic ideas (e.g. variables, functions) and the door to abstract mathematics is starting to open for them. This is a big and important step for the students in the Lower School.
Throughout the year students work on different projects and explorations that link ideas and concepts from several strands of mathematics into an integrated whole. For example, they will design their dream clubhouse, and apply their knowledge about area and perimeter, and practice arithmetic with fraction and decimals. At the same time they will use their creativity and engineering skills. Younger students might simply do an inventory of their classroom library in order to build their counting skills, or use origami paper to make symmetrical designs. These project are often integrated with art, technology, science and Spanish programs.
The math specialist, the core teachers, and the learning specialists work collaboratively to provide additional support and challenges when needed.
MUSIC PROGRAM IN THE CLASSROOM
Kindergarten through Third Grade
Music has always been an important aspect of Black Pine Circle School, where students experience the joy of listening to, and creating music. It permeates the curriculum in many ways, especially through the study of various cultures. Students share their musical talents by participating in both Winter and Spring School Concerts, in talent shows, and for the annual Grandparents’/Godparents’ Day assembly.
The primary objective of the K-3rd Grade music classes is to create a fun and challenging atmosphere in which students receive a strong foundation in basic musical concepts through participation, listening, and cooperation. Incorporating elements from both the Kodaly and Orff teaching methods, students in these grades will all be participating in singing, rhythm, movement and the use of instruments. Singing games, chants, body movement, and percussion help to develop a sense of rhythm and coordination. Such ideas as melody, harmony, pitch identification, and beginning musical notation are all introduced as early as the Kindergarten year, and are developed more thoroughly by the Third Grade.
Beginning in early October, all classes will spend one class period per week learning folk dancing. For the Kindergarten class this will begin with basic dance steps and ideas such as forming a circle, moving together and following the music. For the First through Third Grades, the focus is on using circle dances, line dances and for Third Grade, beginning square dance.
Fourth and Fifth Grade
In the Fourth and Fifth Grades, students become more familiar with standard music notation that includes recognition of notes on the staff, rhythmic values and patterns, and knowledge of the basic elements needed for musical composition and sight singing.
In Fifth Grade, students spend more time listening to masterworks from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, and learn to identify the instruments of the orchestra, both aurally and visually. Our work culminates in an annual trip to hear the San Francisco Symphony in concert.
Students’ musical experiences will include reading and writing music, singing, playing the recorder, creating, listening, and moving to music. Students will continue to develop a sequenced skill set which will enhance their critical thinking skills and their understanding of different types of music. Proper vocal production will be emphasized through body awareness and singing in unison, in canon, with descants, ostinati, and in parts. Students will prepare Choral Repertoire to perform at the Winter and Spring Music Festivals and at Grandparents’ Day, which may include incidental use of keyboard, recorder, choreography, or other instruments. Students in grades 3-5 will also have the opportunity to join the voluntary Lower School Chorus, which meets on Fridays at lunch to prepare songs for fun and performances.
In the second semester, a study of the recorder gives Fourth and Fifth Grade students another practical application for the reading, breathing, and phrasing skills we work on during singing. Particular emphasis will be placed on learning recorder fingerings, developing the ability to sight read notes, playing with accurate articulation, and using rehearsal time well, which will include home practice.
MUSIC PROGRAM – INSTRUMENTAL
Kindergarten through Third Grade Strings Program – Fourth through Eighth Grade Orchestra and Band
Instrumental instruction for K-5, beyond the classroom music program, is an optional program with an extra fee. Students may join group lessons in violin or cello in Kindergarten and First Grade, ensemble instruction for our Junior Orchestra (2nd and 3rd grade) or Advanced Orchestra (starting at 4th grade), or band (starting at 4th grade). Students perform for assemblies, concerts and special events throughout the year. Musical selections range from classical for Orchestra to jazz and rock for Band. In addition, independent instruction for a variety of instruments, including piano and guitar, can be arranged after school with various teachers.
The String Program for Kindergarten-Third graders is a pull-out program on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons during independent activity time in their regular classes. The First Grade and Kindergarten program is open to beginners. The Junior Orchestra is for 2nd and 3rd Graders and is open to students who have had Beginning Strings in K and 1st Grade, or have had private lessons. Band and the Advanced Orchestra meet before or after school and is open to students of all levels who have had some playing experience.
The fundamentals of instrumental music start in Kindergarten. Learning to play an instrument is, in the beginning years, primarily a physical discipline. Kindergarteners learn the basics of caring for their instruments, correct posture and position, a few rhythmic fundamentals, songs using all four open strings, and beginning principles of practicing. By the end of the year they have learned more complicated songs using one or two left hand fingers. First Graders improve upon general playing skills learning different rhythms, bow strokes, and fingerings on all four strings. By the end of the year, they should be familiar with reading all the notes in first position. Second
Graders focus on note reading, intonation, and rhythmic accuracy. Depending on skill levels, we may add Beginning Ensemble playing. In Third Grade, we emphasize chamber music playing and the expressive aspects of music-making (i.e., dynamics, phrasing, pacing, and moods).
Children will progress faster, enjoy playing their instrument more, feel more confident and enthusiastic, learn discipline and enter into the world of music-making more quickly with regular practice. It is more effective for a child to practice once a day for 5 or 10 minutes than once a week for 30 or 40 minutes. As your child gets older, he/she may be able to increase daily practice (10-15 minutes for 1st Grade, 15-20 minutes for 2nd and 3rd Graders). Parent involvement is necessary in the beginning and may be needed up to 3rd Grade. Please encourage your child to show you what he/she is learning everyday. Each day should review that week’s material from class. The key to successful practice at this stage is a lot of repetition of the exercises and songs, with a neutral focus on maintaining the basics of good physical form. These basics will be enumerated in a “checklist” for each class. Of equal importance is helping your child remember both the instrument and music for each rehearsal period.
Students enrolled in the Instrumental Music Program perform in two large school Music Festivals a year. There are other opportunities for students to perform in a solo concert and an ensemble night. Students who are not enrolled in BPC’s instrumental music program may also participate.
Physical Education Kindergarten through Fifth Grade encompasses three main objectives:
• Cognitive learning – this involves thinking, problem solving, creativity and brain-storming
• Affective learning – teamwork, motivation through social/psychological interaction
• Psychomotor – through practice, students will develop motor learning
Kindergarten and First Grade will participate in activities that help develop large motor skills through running, jumping, skipping, catching, etc. They will gain finer large motor coordination as they learn to handle the ball, kick the ball, use targets for concentration, and other activities designed by the P.E. teacher for this purpose. All activities will increase hand-eye coordination, balance, and large and small muscle development.
In Second Grade, students are introduced to different sports. Games and activities that lead up to team sports are introduced for affective learning, which is the beginning of teamwork. Students will develop greater confidence in their own abilities and appreciate the contributions and efforts of others as they learn good sportsmanship and fair play.
In Third Grade is a follow-up to Second Grade activities. However, more fitness activities will be emphasized. Warm-up and cool-down exercises are incorporated with the lessons.
In Fourth and Fifth Grade, we emphasize technique for the year, such as the proper way to bat a ball, soccer skills, and volleyball. Cognitive, affective and psychomotor learning skills are discuss and emphasized. These students will also learn middle school activities. We will also focus on some basic gymnastics and some self-defense wrestling skills.
In addition to using basic sports equipment, children work through obstacle courses, climb on our climbing structure, play bowling games, use the play structure for pull-ups, use hula hoops, jump ropes, a large parachute, seated scooters, hockey equipment, and mats for tumbling.
It is one of our main goals in physical education that students learn to love physical activity, and develop a lifelong appreciation of sport for health, enjoyment, and longevity.
Touch it, draw it, build it, grow it, watch it, push it, mix it, make it fly as high as you can, and do it one more time! Sensory exploration of the physical world is at the heart of science learning in Black Pine Circle’s Lower School, while important science process skills are carefully integrated into each lesson and scaffolded across grade levels.
General Objectives and Content
We strive for a Science curriculum that helps students further develop their natural skills of curiosity and inquiry. At each grade level, we use a combination of content-specific lessons and supplemental activities to reinforce and build upon each of these skills. Content is taught primarily through age-appropriate, hands-on, minds-on activities, and often supports cross-curricular learning with other subject areas.
Kindergarten Science Units generally include: Apples, Pumpkins and Measurement, the Five Senses, Light, Color & Shadows, Weather, Magnetism, States of Matter, Animals in Winter, Dental Health, Eggs, and Arthropods.
First Grade units generally include: The Earth, Human Body Systems, Winter and Light, Arctic Animals, Soil/Erosion/Fossils/Dinosaurs, Deserts, Seeds and Plants, the Rainforest, Marine Animals and Chemistry.
Second Grade units generally include: activities integrated with four themes: Families (Animals and Genetic Traits), Trading (ships, buoyancy, how things are made, conservation and recycling), Life Cycles (including our embryology unit and chick hatching!), and Farming and Nutrition.
Third Grade units generally include: Simple Machines, Sound & Light, Astronomy, Decomposition, Mummification, Food Web, and Tide Pools/Coastal Ecology.
Fourth Grade units generally include: Geology, Matter, Electricity, and the Human Body.
Fifth Grade units generally include: The Nature of Science, Experimental Design, Matter, Ecology, Water Chemistry and Conservation, Science Fair Projects, and Oobleck Investigations.
Progression of Skills
We focus on the following science skills at each grade level:
|Data work||Data work||Data work|
|Kindergarten||1st Grade||2nd Grade||3rd Grade||4th Grade||5th Grade|
Kindergarten through Fourth Grade
The Lower School Spanish program consists of both language acquisition and cultural learning. Students are introduced to basic concepts and conversation vocabulary in Kindergarten; as they continue on, throughout their lower school years, children gain confidence with listening comprehension, speaking abilities, and writing and reading skills. Cultural activities from Mexico, Spain and other Latin American countries are also a focus in the classroom. These activities bring a global awareness to the classroom, reflecting the school’s commitment to the appreciation of different cultures from around the world.
In Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade, students start building a foundation for learning the Spanish language with introductions to new vocabulary and basic conversations. Throughout these first three years students use ¡Hola Niños!, a resource that uses TPR (Total Physical Response) activities and storytelling to increase comprehension, in combination with songs and games to enhance their skills. Activities and subject matter:
• Greetings and introductions
• Numbers 1-100
• Days of the week and months of the year
• Vocabulary such as food, animals, feelings, family, clothing, and body parts
• The alphabet and letter sounds
• Listening comprehension and writing practice
• Latin American Geography and maps
• Cultural events: Independence Days, Días de los Muertos, Las Posadas, Los Tres Reyes Magos, Cinco de Mayo, and Cesar Chavez Day
Throughout Third and Fourth Grade, students use Cuéntame, a series of vocabulary units and stories that combine listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing activities to increase comprehension and production skills. More of the class time is conducted in Spanish, and students put their skills to the test, while writing and performing original stories completely in Spanish. Activities and subject matter:
• Review and expansion of topics from Kindergarten, First and Second grade
• Common verbs and commands
• Understanding masculine and feminine nouns
• Learning the formal and informal forms of tu and usted
• Numbers 1-1000
• Vocabulary such as the weather, seasons, time, and household objects
Independent reading, translations, and simple dictations
• Writing stories
• Cultural events as above, including individual country studies
In Fifth Grade, students are expected to be able to produce basic questions, answers, commands, and target vocabulary with good pronunciation. Students work on mastering personal pronouns, possessive pronouns, interrogative words, regular –ar verbs in the present tense, some irregular verbs, and describing how often, how well, how much, and when. They will also be introduced to the future tense. Students apply their knowledge by conducting interviews and skits in Spanish.
TECHNOLOGY LAB PROGRAM
The Black Pine Circle School approach to computer education is spiral in nature. Throughout Lower School, students experience age appropriate lessons that build, year upon year, a solid foundation in three dominant fields of technology:
production applications (word processing, spreadsheets and database), multimedia creation/presentation, and Internet/webpage utilization. Inherent in the approach is the development of literacy; a true understanding of computer operations that will enable students to use computers – and related technologies – to solve problems in real world settings. Wherever possible, students integrate their lab experience with actual classroom lessons. Integration may be as basic as typing a vocabulary word and drawing an illustration or as complex as creating a multimedia project in conjunction with one or several other schools across the globe. In addition, keyboarding (using the touch typing method) is practiced as an ongoing component of their education
Classes are conducted in Black Pine Circle School’s tech lab where each student has his/her own Macintosh computer. The culture of the lab is non-competitive, collaborative and investigative. Lab projects, so as to capture student imagination and inspire originality, are open-ended and non-linear in design. Students are encouraged to take risks, make mistakes, and innovate.
• Identification of computer hardware including storage devices, computer chips and the basic components of the computer
• Identification/use of shift key and specific power keys
• Introduction to basic keyboard hand placement
• Introduction to reading menus and choosing items from sub-menus
• Introduction to word processing with special emphasis on font, font points, centering, and printing
• Introduction to basic paint tools
• Introduction to multimedia by creating a fact slide with text, illustration an voice
• Project: Students create and illustrate their own slide show stories with voice recordings. Themes are based on current classroom exploration. Slideshows are collaborative and involve the whole class
Assessment Tools: visual, hands-on quizzes, completed project evaluations
• Identification of computer hardware including storage devices, computer chips and the basic components of the computer
• Basic use of technology vocabulary
• Introduction to folder and file creation, naming, saving and opening files
• Continued practice in word-processing with special emphasis on centering, addition of graphics, and basic layout
• Keyboarding begins with an introduction to the home row and practice with anchoring keys using a simple word processor
• Internet use and practice is integrated with classroom curriculum in a guided approach
• Students enhance multimedia skills by creating and illustrating their own slide show stories with voice recordings and text for class presentation. Collaborative teams of up to four students decide on creative choices through consensus
• Themes are based on current classroom exploration. Shows are collaborative and involve the whole class
Assessment Tools: visual, hands-on quizzes, completed project evaluations
•• Hardware identification continues
• Deepening use & understanding of technology terms
• Further emphasis on file management through creation of hierarchical folder and file systems (directories)
• Introduction and regular practice of the “Touch Typing Method” begins
• Continued advancement of word-processing skills: emphasis on use of spell checking, the thesaurus, document setup, and object placement
• Introduction to Excel and spreadsheet creation, chart use and extraction
• Introduction to Power Point presentation usage and skills
• Introduction to programming using Scratch
• Introduction of web-based 2.0 tools such as Wordle
• Continued use of Internet building on ‘smart searching’ techniques, netiquette and deepening knowledge of information literacy
• Possible Projects: Design and conduct a survey using Excel and the chart function; design and implement a PowerPoint presentation integrated with classroom curriculum; complete a program to animate object(s) using Scratch
Assessment Tools: visual, hands-on quizzes, completed project evaluations, keyboard progress
• Build on technology terms; move to deeper concepts
• Keyboarding skills continue using Type to Learn
• File management techniques continue
• Continued practice in word processing with emphasis on layout using text and graphics as objects
• Introduction to GarageBand and original tune creation
• Continued use of web-based tools
• Further skill building in PowerPoint presentation, adding original music
• Internet search/research in conjunction with classroom Science and Social Studies curriculum, further emphasis on smart searching and intro to copyright and Creative
• Further skill building in Excel spreadsheet usage and integration with Science program
• Possible Projects: Creation of various content specific presentations using PowerPoint and Internet research, original music, artwork, and images; creations of a short animation programmed using Scratch, creation of a flyer for the school
Assessment Tools: visual, hands-on quizzes and tests, completed project evaluations; rubrics, oral participation, and keyboard progress
•• Mini-sessions in how to troubleshoot computer problems
• Continued practice in keyboarding using Type to Learn
• Continued enhancement of word-processing skills: object layers, borders, page numbering, orientation and placement, and layout design
• Continued practice of web-based tools
• Continued practice in files management and desktop navigations
• Continued practice in spreadsheet usage/design integrated with Science Fair, finding averages and using comparative data
• Course in HTML and web page creation, design elements, concept of interactive quizzes and multiple pages
• Enhancement of Internet search/research skills using classroom content
• Possible Projects: development of spreadsheets using comparative Science data, classroom content specific multimedia production/presentation in PowerPoint, creation of a Web site in a specific subject area published to the Internet, development of short programmed game and quiz using Scratch, use of multiple Internet tools to create a web-based interactive report
Assessment Tools: visual evaluation, tests and quizzes, oral participation; use of rubrics to evaluate completed projects, self-assessment, keyboard progress, and oral participation.
Reports and Conferences
There are two written reports each year, one for each semester. The student’s head teacher will include a summary of the material covered during the term, a paragraph that describes the student’s achievement and progress, and suggestions on how to help the student improve in a particular area. In addition, most specialists write a one page report that also summarizes the term’s curriculum, and the child’s progress is conveyed both with a rubric of desired skills and behaviors and a short written evaluation.
There are also two half-hour conferences each year for parents to meet with their child’s classroom teacher. This will be an opportunity for both teacher and parents to express the successes, concerns and needs for the child. The conferences will focus on both the academic and social accomplishments of the child. Recommendations may include additional support from home, an observation from either the Learning Specialist or the School Psychologist, tutoring assistance for remedial work or outside testing, if needed.
Teachers are also available via phone conferencing and email for any concerns parents may have.