Our Sunday Visitor Textbook Series was adopted in 2014. The text is easy to read and understand with special attention placed on the Six Fundamental Tasks of Catechesis:
- Promotes knowledge of the Catholic faith: Alive in Christ assures that students are learning and applying the basics of the Catholic faith with a curriculum that reflects the latest edition of the NCEA IFG: ACRE Edition Standards. The text is deeply rooted in using the Catechism of the Catholic faith.
- Liturgical education: Alive in Christ helps children at every grade level understand and practice Catholic celebrations and rituals of our Church that form their lived faith. The Seven Sacraments, the Mass, and the Liturgical Year are presented through engaging images and examples. The children are involved in weekly Mass.
- Moral formation: Alive in Christ provides opportunities to challenge children to apply what they have learned to situations at home, school, and in the community. Following the message of the Good News taught in the Religion classes, our goal is to develop Christian behavior in the daily life of each of our students.
- Teaching to pray: Alive in Christ incorporates experiences of all five forms of prayer with opportunities for children to speak to God in their own words.
- Education for community life: Various chapters featured in Alive in Christ Catholic Social Teaching. During Advent and Lent the children participate in prayer services and are encouraged to share with the needy through their gifts of time, talent and treasure.
- Missionary initiation: Alive in Christ help to form children in the language and behavior of the Catholic faith, giving them the skills necessary to be strong witnesses of the faith.
The commitment of the teaching staff was demonstrated when they chose our reading series--Harcourt School Publishers Trophies Reading Program. This comprehensive program provides research-based instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. It begins with a strong phonics presentation and then delves into comprehension; while, at the same time, the importance of vocabulary is stressed. This series offers the best of traditional teaching methods. Two examples of this are the teaching of phonemics and vocabulary.
Phonemics is one of the primary predictors of success in learning to read and significantly supports students’ reading and writing achievement. Also, research has proven that comprehension is stifled when there is not a strong vocabulary. This reading program also provides practice and re-inforcement of tested comprehension skills, and is filled with creative ideas and ways to successfully teach students how to read and write. With this in mind, during the 2006-2007 school year, we incorporated the grammar and spelling components of the reading program into our curriculum.
GRAMMAR/LANGUAGE AND SPELLING
During the 2006-2007 school year, we incorporated the grammar/language component of the Harcourt Trophies Reading Series into our curriculum. This gives our literacy program an integrated approach. Writing, reading, spelling, and grammar are closely correlated. Concepts and skills are now connected via an overriding focus and philosophy. This correlation of the literacy components is essential for our program development. This series also ties in well with our Daily Oral Language Program, which reinforces and improves basic language art skills.
Currently students and parents may choose between two math programs at Aquin Elementary.
In the Saxon Math program, students are instructed by a classroom teacher who introduces students to new increments of instruction. Students continually review previously introduced math concepts. Frequent assessments of new and old concepts are encountered throughout the lessons, ensuring that students truly integrate and retain critical math skills.
Students may prefer to enroll in the ALEKS Program. ALEKS is a web-based math system where students work in an individualized program that continually assesses their progress throughout the major math concepts. This program is held in our computer lab with a teacher is available to assist students throughout the class. There is a an additional fee for this program.
Harcourt Brace, the publisher of our science series, employs a dynamic approach to understanding science. The students explore science by wondering, planning, investigating, reflecting, sharing, and acting. Through a variety of experiences and choices, all students succeed in exploring a wide variety of topics. The program correlates the disciplines of science and those of other subjects. This series covers the natural world, wildlife, basics of chemistry and physics, and earth sciences. It is the per-fect text for the inquiring mind.
An emphasis on social studies begins in the fourth grade. Macmillan/McGraw Hill is the publisher of our social studies series. This series is designed around a carefully developed sequence. The logical develop-ment of content matches the students' growing awareness of the world. The content emphasizes United States geography, history, and citizenship. There are clear, captioned photographs and drawings to enrich the content. Skills are developed in map and globe skills, chart and graph skills, time skills, thinking skills, citizenship skills, and reading, writing, and study skills. In sixth grade, to broaden the students' awareness of the world, the students are presented the continents of the world. Each continent, other than North America, is concentrated on for five to eight weeks.
We use the D'Nealian Handwriting Program. D'Nealian introduces the letterforms, size, slant, and spacing used for manuscript and cursive hand-writing from the beginning. This single continuous stroke used to form the D'Nealian manuscript letters practically eliminates common reversals. This program offers a timesaving, less-confusing transition to cursive writing from manuscript. At the kindergarten level, this program provides for pre-writing skills; fine motor coordination; shape discrimination; top, middle, bottom, over, and under. In the first through sixth grades, this program introduces basic concepts for manuscript, lowercase, and capital letters in related letter groups, cursive letter formation, and a range of practical applications.
Appreciation of music is developed from secular wholesome songs as well as from spiritual songs used during Mass. Students go to vocal music class once a week. During this time--among other things--the students:
- learn to keep a steady beat
- gain experience with pitch classroom instruments (e.g. bells, xylophone, glockenspiel)
- gain experience with unpitched (percussion type) classroom instruments (i.e. finger cymbals, tone blocks, rhythm sticks)
- learn to read music
- learn about famous composers and their music
Through our Christmas program, the students learn to sing in unison before an audience. Moreover, the fourth grade students learn to play re-corders (flute-type instruments). In addition, we offer an excellent intermediate band program for fifth and sixth grade students. Volunteers gifted in art help the classroom teachers instruct the students either in the Art Room or in the classrooms. The volunteers help enrich our art program by sharing their artistic skills and knowledge of art. Each child is given an opportunity to be creative and is exposed to a wide variety of art media. Through our art program, the students begin to foster an appreciation of art and its history.
We incorporate calisthenics, locomotor movements, rhythms, and team games in order to achieve the following: strength, flexibility, agility, muscular endurance, cardio-respiratory endurance, motor skills, eye-hand coordination, eye-foot coordination, and manipulative skills. Muscle groups, importance of fitness, and nutrition are discussed. We also teach basic skills and rules for group games. Our goal is to help the children become physically active and learn the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
The students go to the computer lab weekly. The computers are used to reinforce subject matter introduced by the teacher in the classroom, as well as used for research. This exposure to the computer lab not only helps the student become computer literate, but also enhances their regular curriculum. Students also have the opportunity to use the computers that are available in the classrooms.
Our students become well-rounded through many of our special activities. Each year we have a major Christmas production. The sixth grade students are involved in the Seder Meal, and sixth grade graduation. All students participate in the school's Research Fair. A class field trip is encouraged to enhance the curriculum at every grade level. Community speakers are invited to augment the class curriculum, when appropriate.
We encourage and foster teacher/parent interaction. We have a network of parents that support and promote our Catholic School System. Our parents are a special community of caring adults with similar goals and desires based on a religious philosophy. We are very dependent on our parents for making our hot lunch program, library program (checking books out), sports program, and school fundraisers successful. The relationships that grow bind us together in a united system.