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curriculum guide st. james’ episcopal school


overview At St. James’ Episcopal School, we believe that intelligence is neither a fixed nor an unchanging commodity. Saint James’ intentionally expands each child’s capacity for learning in a thoughtfully designed environment where children are not just “taught;” they are encouraged to explore, investigate, work collaboratively, and probe the world around them. Through the focused use of technology resources, students become 21st century learners who develop skills as independent thinkers, skilled communicators, creative producers, effective researchers, collaborative workers, and lifelong learners. Each child’s homeroom experience includes opportunities in the core areas of reading, writing mathematics, and social studies. Regular study in science, technology, Spanish, art, music, physical education, library, and religion further enriches each student’s experience.


language arts Language arts emphasizes writing, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and oral expression. A process approach to writing encourages students to organize and refine their ideas in a series of drafts before producing a finished product. Daily writing activities include journals, book reports, research papers, and poetry. Students display their writing in class, write for newsletters and other St. James’ publications, and participate in a variety of activities designed to develop oral expression, including “show and tell,” oral book reports, and poetry and choral recitations.

reading The reading program at St. James’ develops a child’s reading and analytical skills, fosters a love for literature, and encourages lifelong reading. In the early grades, our reading program utilizes a strong phonetic approach in combination with guided reading and small group instruction. In later grades students progress to a basal reading program and then to a literature-based program, which develop sequential reading skills and vocabulary. Student assessments include oral and written book reports, essays, exams, and creative projects. Reading aloud, literature circles, sustained silent reading, weekly visits to the library, author visits, and other special events promote the joy of reading.


social studies The social studies program is a study of communities that influence students’ lives. These communities range from the family and the neighborhood community at the primary level to the world community at the Sixth Grade level. Along the way students practice map skills and discover the importance of geography and its role in the success of a community. They learn of the adaptability and the contributions of Native Americans. They follow the path of California’s rich heritage and its significance in the development of the West. Students explore the course of events that shaped our United States and finally dig into past civilizations such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and Greece to recognize the connections of the present to the past. Our community’s diverse population, special programming such as African-American History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, relationships with sister schools in Haiti and Korea, and everyday interaction with people from a variety of backgrounds enhance the curriculum.

specialty subjects Specialty subjects provide students with a well-rounded, educational program. Classes in art, library, music, physical education and health, religion, science, Spanish, and technology bring new dimensions to our students’ lives.


science The science program is experiential and inquiry-based. Kindergarteners and First Graders study science in the classroom with their homeroom teacher. Second through Sixth Grade students leave their homeroom and study with a science specialist in the lab. The program builds on students’ natural curiosity and teaches them the skills they need to become independent scientists. Students ask questions, design experiments, and share their ideas. In the lower grades, students learn about scientific inquiry through skills such as classifying, making a hypothesis, posing questions, and experimenting. The children explore a variety of topics such as air and wind, plants, invertebrates, balance and motion, and measurement. As students progress through the curriculum, they learn how to gather and organize data, identify variables, interpret data, and design experiments. The upper grade curriculum includes topics such as genetics, animal and plant cells, body systems, astronomy, and marine biology.


technology The technology curriculum is implemented in conjunction with the activities of other content areas. A tool that facilitates and enhances instruction in all disciplines, technology exposes students to realworld skills that will be used in higher education and the workplace. Technology’s benefits best emerge when integrated into project-based, cross-curricular instruction. Students come to understand ethical, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and its safe use. Our technological tools enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity. St. James’ students gather data, solve problems, and communicate information. In Kindergarten through Second Grade, students learn to recognize, name, and label major hardware components, recognize the functions of basic file commands, use technology to gather information, and use a variety of appropriate technologies for sharing information. As students move through the program, they learn to synthesize gathered information, write multi-page research papers, acquire in-depth research techniques, produce presentations using Keynote and PowerPoint, and create movies and music using iMovie and Garage Band. The technology lab has Apple iMacs, a DLP projector, a Smartboard, an electronic screen, a multi-zone receiver, highperformance speakers, color printers, camcorders, digital cameras, and microphones.


mathematics The goal of St. James’ math program is to teach our students how to think and act like mathematicians. Our math instruction takes a constructivist approach where teachers create learning situations that enable students to actively engage in math and do the work of mathematicians. Our curriculum incorporates Singapore Math and Everyday Math. Both programs emphasize conceptual understandings while building a mastery of basic skills and strategic thinking processes. Extending well beyond the traditional core curriculum, students are encouraged to notice and evaluate spatial and quantitative relationships that define the world around us. Our program builds increased competence and problem solving skills by introducing major mathematical domains – number sense, algebra, measurement, geometry, data analysis, and probability – beginning in Kindergarten. Each grade level builds on and extends concepts and understandings so that children approach each new challenge from a firmly established foundation. Students demonstrate competency through varied assessments such as authentic performance tasks, individual and group quizzes and tests, hands-on activities, and projects.


spanish The Spanish program develops a strong foundation in the four areas of language learning: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In addition, students expand their knowledge of Spanish-speaking people and cultures around the world. Aligned with the World Languages National Standards, the Spanish program enriches students’ learning experiences and prepares them to be part of a diverse and multicultural society. Students in Kindergarten through Second Grade learn pronunciation and the sounds of the alphabet. They develop strong listening skills and build up vocabulary by identifying images, reciting words, playing games, and singing songs. The Spanish curriculum for Grades Three through Six incorporates the Rosetta Stone Spanish Language program. This proven method gets students speaking right from the beginning of the year by connecting words, pictures and meanings – helping them to build a bank of language. Students learn how to speak, read, write and think without translating or memorizing.


library The library program teaches library and research skills, promotes the joy of reading, and encourages students to make reading a daily part of their lives. The library is a vibrant center of the school. It is open before and after school, and every class visits the library weekly for thirty minutes. Resources are current, attractive, informative, and entertaining, and the collection continually evolves to include the best elementary-age literature. Teachers and staff often use the library to generate ideas for engaging lessons and projects. The library curriculum exposes students to a wide variety of multi The library program teaches library and research skills, promotes the joy of reading, and encourages students to make reading a daily part of their lives. The library is a vibrant center of the school. It is open before and after school, and every class visits the library weekly for thirty minutes. Resources are current, attractive, informative, and entertaining, and the collection continually evolves to include the best elementary-age literature. Teachers and staff often use the library to generate ideas for engaging lessons and projects. The library curriculum exposes students to a wide variety of multicultural literature through oral language activities, storytelling, reading aloud, and book talks. Students check out books for pleasure reading, book reports, and research, and learn to become effective users and producers of information. Several library-sponsored events and activities throughout the year promote reading and include author days, book fairs, book clubs, and book dedications.


religion Worship and religious instruction have always been an integral part of St. James’. Students and staff attend weekly chapel services and participate in daily classroom devotions. Once a month, the school convenes for All-School Chapel. During the year, special services include a remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and celebrations of African-American History Month and Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day. The Head of School, the Chaplain, and clergy from St. James’ Church conduct weekly religion classes. Both worship and religious instruction prize the spirit of inclusivity. Students learn about God, about how others practice religion around the world, and about principles such as love, peace, community, and environmentalism. Students also complete community service projects such as cross-age reading, collecting items for our sister school in Haiti, visiting a local preschool, helping in the school garden, and serving in the St. James’ Church soup kitchen.


physical ed & health Through sports and movement, students participate in a sequential, differentiated program that fosters personal health, fitness, and safety. The curriculum builds on each individual student’s level of strength, flexibility, and endurance. The development of critical social skills, including respect, communication, teamwork, and sportsmanship, is emphasized and refined. The promotion of a cooperative learning environment, combined with the exposure to a wide variety of individual and group activities, provides students with opportunities to make educated decisions about achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Kindergarten through Second Grade students focus on fundamental physical skills such as body movement, coordination and reflex development, and foundational sports skills. Topics such as community health, safety, family and social health, feelings, and cooperation are discussed. The Third though Sixth Grade program concentrates on skills enhancement in individual and team sports such as football, hockey, track and field, and soccer, and covers health topics such as nutrition, anatomy and physiology, and global health.

dance Building on the strength of our PE Program, our dance program encourages students to use their entire bodies, promoting full body fitness while enhancing flexibility, coordination and kinesthetic memory. Through dance, children become aware of themselves and others both physically and emotionally. Children build skills in cooperation as they work together in a highly creative, yet structured atmosphere.


art Art at St. James’ builds confidence and creativity while introducing students to a wide variety of concepts and techniques. Students work with different media, including paint, pastel, pencil, crayon, ink, and more. Using recycled materials is a core value of our art program. Kindergarten through Second Grade students develop eye-hand coordination and learn basic design elements such as line, shape, form, color, and texture. Third through Sixth Graders exercise their creativity, develop a visual vocabulary, and learn design elements and principles that include value, contrast, pattern, space, rhythm, and symmetry. Projects draw from cultures around the world and the example of artists such as Romare Bearden, Harriet Powers, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Wassily Kandinsky.

drama Our Drama program offers students an opportunity to participate in a full-scale musical play with an open casting policy; every child who wishes to participate receives a role. Sixth graders experience the world of Shakespeare by performing a play in the spring.


band Our Band Program is in partnership with the Colburn School. This program enables students to engage in large group instruction with an experienced band director twice a week. Students also have the opportunity to attend Saturday rehearsals at The Colburn School.

music The music curriculum teaches students to read, write, and improvise music with a level of proficiency comparable to that with which they read and write their own language. We use the Kodåly method, which holds that musical abilities are most deeply trained through unaccompanied singing. The study in Kindergarten through Second Grade establishes music literacy readiness and a solid base of song repertoire as students learn the melodic and rhythmic components of written notation. As students mature, they continue to gain awareness of new concepts through three modalities: physical, aural, and visual. Activities include singing, listening, moving, and, from the First Grade onwards, reading, writing, and improvising. Meaningful connections are made to music of other traditions. The primary source material is folk song, drawn from various cultures. Extra-curricular activities offer students the opportunity to explore their musical interests further. The Choir Program begins in the Third Grade, with training in solfège, diaphragmatic breathing, and posture. Our handbell choir is for Sixth Graders. Performances include the Christmas Pageant, the Spring Concert, and Chapel services. All students are exposed to a variety of repertoire and have the opportunity to sing in Chapel, Church services, and a spring musical concert.


625 S. St. Andrews Place • Los Angeles, CA 90005 • 213 382 2315 x255 sjsla.org • admissions@sjsla.org


2015–2016 Curriculum Guide