Elementary School (K-5th)
At CJDS, we are passionate about challenging each student’s mind to the fullest and spark a desire and love of learning by providing a general studies curriculum that is both rigorous and enjoyable. We recognize the need for our students to be critical thinkers, creative, adaptable, and information literate to be successful in the future. Educational initiatives, central to our curriculum, such as project-based learning and makerspace opportunities, provide unique ways of learning these skills.
We believe in educating the whole child, meeting his or her cognitive, social, emotional, creative, and physical needs using an individualized approach. Teachers provide small group and one on one learning opportunities for each student to master the content and skills at their own readiness level. Teachers analyze student assessments to differentiate learning and create lessons plans that target specific goals in each subject area. Student achievement is monitored to ensure progress is being made by each student. Grade level teams work together to identify and monitor students’ academic, social, and emotional goals.
There is nothing more important than for our children to be proud of who they are. We encourage children to hold steadfastly to their values, to treat everyone with respect, to celebrate the joy of being Jewish, and develop a wealth of inner values that will enable them to grow and mature. In order for children to be proud of their heritage, they must be able to understand it, love it, and be comfortable with it.
In language arts, the primary goal is to teach children to use language to communicate effectively and to facilitate their thinking and learning. We accomplish this through a comprehensive literacy program. Based on the joint position statement of the International Reading Association and the National Association for the Education of Young Children, we provide students with a balance of instructional methods, including daily opportunities for students to engage in systematic decoding and authentic reading, writing, listening, and speaking experiences. Through explicit and direct instruction, children are taught the skills and strategies for word solving, as well as comprehension.
The Gifted and Talented program used with our older students incorporates instruction in reading and writing, daily journals, building strong reference skills, exploring literary techniques, such as similes and metaphors, and developing an extensive vocabulary. The language arts experience incorporates higher level skills and critical thinking that will be used throughout a student’s life.
All CJDS students participate in writing activities. From their first day in school, children are given an opportunity to live a “writerly life.” In shared and independent writing, students learn to move through the processes of writing in the same way published authors do. Children prewrite, draft, revise, edit, and publish. Different genres and various conventions of language and techniques in writing are included in the curriculum. Students are encouraged to use all that they know about writing and spelling to express themselves. We celebrate and share our writing throughout the school.
Our math programs support our philosophy that when teaching math concepts and computation, it is not enough to merely memorize math facts. To be “math literate,” the whole number system must come together in a way that makes sense to the student.
Our programs utilize a problem-solving approach based on everyday situations. For example, in first grade, students practice counting money and making change by playing the role of shopper and storekeeper. There is frequent practice of basic skills in ways that are engaging for the children. The use of a variety of math games allows students to practice skills and concepts, including computation, money, place value, number sense, data, and geometry. Teachers incorporate math manipulatives to build a concrete understanding of the math concepts and skills.
Our science program emphasizes the scientific processes taught at an appropriate cognitive level. These processes are observation, classification, experimentation, analysis, and application. When you walk into one of our science classes, you won’t see the teacher standing in front of the class doing an experiment while students observe from their desks. Instead, you will see each group of students using their own laboratory materials, enabling them to perform the experiment independently, while the teacher guides and facilitates the activity. There is active participation by all of the students, and the buzz of voices is heard as the children turn their classroom into a laboratory. For example, when studying electricity, the children are challenged to light a bulb using only a battery, bulb, and wire, observe how electric current passes through a light bulb, find and create hidden circuits, and assemble parallel circuits.
Our social studies curriculum is based on a series of practices and materials that allow students with diverse learning styles to “experience” social studies. We try to incorporate all disciplines of social studies from economics and map skills to sociology, history, and political science. Students are also given strategy instruction to facilitate reading for information within content areas and writing to show understanding. Students in first grade build a colonial village when they study colonial times. They research what homes used to look like, and how they were kept warm and clean, and what children their age used to learn at school. They study the economy of the time, learning about the currency used, the value of everyday goods, and why people in a community traded. Experiential learning gives students a strong command of the period.
CJDS is a one-to-one technology school. Beginning in kindergarten, each child is issued a tablet device to supplement and enhance in-class learning. Students in kindergarten through second grade receive iPads, while students in grades three through five receive Chromebooks. Students are instructed in internet safety, keyboarding, coding, database creation and presentation using the latest programs and applications. Each classroom is equipped with SMARTboard technology.
The visual art program is structured around the fundamentals of art, the principles of design, and the cultural diversity of the art world, both historic and modern. While exploring a variety of media, students are encouraged to imagine, persist, observe, reflect, and express their inner artist. Additionally, art is integrated throughout the curriculum through project based learning.
The goals of the music program are to develop enjoyment of singing and to learn about music through rhythm activities. Emphasis is placed on music appreciation, identifying and counting musical notes, and the actual reading of music. Orff instruments such as bongos, bells, triangles, xylophones, marimba tambourines and conga drums are introduced starting in kindergarten. Third grade through fifth grade learn to use recorders.
During weekly physical education classes, children receive instruction to continue their development of gross motor skills, body and health awareness, and control of body movements. A regular program of jogging, walking, and stretching is included. Throwing, catching, and various coordination activities are incorporated in both individual and team play. Strength and agility training are included in the program. In addition, thirty minutes of outdoor play time is scheduled daily for each grade.