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Elementary Level

The Innovative School of Temple Beth Sholom is a progressive Elementary School designed to encourage and develop our understandings and practices within the social-constructivist approach to learning regarding the whole child. We are guided by the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. We foster academic achievement and 21st-century skills including empowering children and fostering a sense of agency.

Flow of the Day

Learning Concepts and Goals

At The Innovative School of Temple Beth Sholom, our goal is for children to love learning. Our curriculum is anchored in meaningful experiences, providing learning opportunities that promote collaboration, critical thinking, and inquiry. With a child-directed approach always at the forefront, teaching and learning are authentic, and we intentionally design our learning experiences to foster inquiry, communication, and creative expression. Through ongoing observation and assessment of the learning process, our educators mindfully plan curriculum. Learning standards and goals undergird these experiences and processes.

Literacy: Reading, Writing and Word Study

Our goal is for learners to read and write independently and fluently. We help learners gain the appropriate skills and strategies needed to develop a true joy for reading and writing. Learners develop their literacy concepts and skills through whole class, small group, and one-on-one instruction. Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshops and Fundations Word Study are used to support literacy learning.

Kindergarten literacy curriculum builds upon the learners’ prior knowledge gained in pre-school, continuing with the immersion in a language-rich environment, while focusing on the building of alphabetic knowledge and phonemic awareness skills.

Literacy experiences are play-based, interactive and hands-on. Read alouds, shared reading and perusing books in the classroom library are core pieces to the kindergarten literacy program. The writing process encourages the expression of language. Children share their stories, thoughts, and wonderings, enabling them to develop their own “voice” as they grow as readers and writers. Learners continue to gain comfort with writing tools and letter formation. Kindergartners enjoy sharing their writing and thoughts about stories with their peers — they experience first-hand the need for and joy of sharing stories and working collaboratively with others to generate writing projects.

First Grade reading, writing, and word study skills and concepts are taught explicitly and practiced each day. Using a balanced literacy model, learners will develop appropriate skills and strategies needed to 
read, spell, and write texts of various genres and for different purposes. It is a goal for children to
feel that what they learn as readers and writers has meaningful and practical application in school
and beyond.

We understand that first graders will arrive with a variety of skill levels in reading.
 Through direct teaching and individual assessment, teachers learn about the strengths and needs
of each reader. Throughout the year, the learners are developing decoding skills, fluency,
comprehension strategies, and inferential thinking. In writing, they are learning to draft, revise, edit, and publish their work. Children share their stories, thoughts, and wonderings, enabling
them to develop their own voice as they grow as readers and writers. First graders develop
control of their letter formation through a handwriting program. Learners receive consistent word
study instruction to develop connections to sounds and letters involved in their reading, writing,
and spelling. In addition, first graders learn strategies for applying spelling patterns and core sight
words into the proofreading and editing of their written work.

Second Grade reading, writing, and word study skills and concepts are taught explicitly and practiced each day. In second grade, the emphasis shifts to more complex decoding skills and more sophisticated comprehension skills. The books evolve to take on more nuanced characters/traits and situations and exciting plots.

We expect the children to share and express their thinking and specific ideas about their reading in both verbal and written form. Second graders will write in a variety of genres and deepen their understanding of the writing process: generating ideas, drafting, revising, editing and publishing. Children share their stories, thoughts and wonderings, enabling them to develop their own voice as they grow as readers and writers. Teachers introduce diverse mentor texts to inspire their students’ developing writing styles. The second grade literacy program also focuses on writing mechanics, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization. Spelling concepts advance to more complex patterns and syllable types; students’ sight-word repertoire expands as they continue to commit such words to memory.

Third Grade reading, writing, and word study skills and concepts are taught explicitly and practiced each day. In third grade, children are transitioning from learning-to-read to reading-to-learn. Learners immerse themselves in ‘just right’ fiction books and expository non-fiction. Vocabulary development, envisionment, ascertaining main ideas, recognizing text infrastructure, and thinking deeply are some skills directly taught and practiced.

As the books evolve to take on nuanced characters/traits, situations, and exciting plots, we expect the children to express their thinking and ideas about their reading in both verbal and written form. Expanding from second grade, third graders continue to write longer and more thoroughly. Teachers continue to model and directly teach skills to support: drafting and revising; synthesizing and organizing; and writing persuasively about meaningful topics. The third grade literacy program also focuses on writing mechanics, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization. Spelling concepts advance to more complex patterns and syllable types; students’ sight-word repertoire expands as they continue to commit such words to memory.

Fourth Grade learners progress with the essentials of quality reading instruction (the framework that informs mini lessons, one-on-one conferences and small group strategy lessons) continue to be the backbone of Reading Workshop. Learners begin to refer to relevant details and/or examples from sources to back up their thinking and demonstrate authentic understanding of a text. At this stage in a young reader’s life, a main teaching goal is to empower learners to develop their own ideas and interpretations about complex characters and themes.

Research becomes front and center as learners investigate topics and explore history while developing skills in cross-text synthesis, close reading, analyzing, comparing/contrasting and evaluating multiple points of view. The writing process works in tandem with reading. Learners will try their hand at opinion, information and narrative writing, and further understand the transfer of perspective from reading to be brought to their writing. Fourth Graders delve into developing believable characters with struggles and motivations. As learners embark on thesis-driven persuasive essays, they are mindful of organization as evidence is gathered to support and express opinions on a topic they know about; historical research reports will demonstrate use of details to vividly describe events from long ago. Spelling concepts, vocabulary and grammar is taught in a highly explicit, multi-sensory way. Daily instruction to support orthographic knowledge allows for more fluid, joyful, and efficient reading, spelling and writing.

Math

Learners use math in real-world situations. They think logically about math, write about math, and understand numbers through games and manipulatives. Learners engage in meaningful mathematical problem-solving strategies and become critical thinkers. We use TERC Math Investigations to support this learning.

Kindergarten counting is a central focus in the kindergarten curriculum. As learners develop accurate counting strategies, they also build an understanding of how numbers in the counting sequence are related.

They develop an understanding of one less, one more, greater than, less than and equal to. They develop language for describing quantitative comparisons as they count and compare quantities. Learners’ work in composing and decomposing numbers culminates in an understanding of place value. The counting experiences build a bridge to the operations of addition and subtraction. Additionally, learners’ work with measurement, geometry, and sorting data begins with real-world experiences. Our curriculum urges them to think mathematically by creating an environment where “students are doing, thinking, and talking about significant mathematics.”

First Grade learners build on the work of composing and decomposing numbers to further support number
sense and develop strategies for understanding the basic principles of addition and subtraction.

To support these concepts, the curriculum incorporates math racks and number lines and
introduces ten-frames. Learners also learn to recognize place value by exploring how a digit’s
value depends on its position within a number. Geometry, measurement, and data are also
explored. Our curriculum urges learners to think mathematically by creating an environment
where students are doing, thinking, and talking about significant mathematics.”

Second Grade second graders begin the year reviewing counting big numbers and number sequence. They learn to recognize and identify coins and their values. Learners will review place value, focusing on how written numerals are representations of a base-ten number system.

Learners develop fluency with addition facts and associated subtraction facts over the course of the year. To build a foundation for multiplication, students build and model multiplicative situations that involve the accumulation of equal groups. Learners observe and describe attributes of two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes. Work with fractions is directly related to geometry. Learners study measurement in a variety of contexts. Second grade learners use Venn diagrams, bar graphs, line plots and other visual representations to investigate data. Our curriculum urges learners to think mathematically by creating an environment where “students are doing, thinking, and talking about significant mathematics.”

Third Grade focuses on understanding the meaning of multiplication and grasping the inverse relationship between multiplication and division. They develop fluency with the multiplication facts and find factors of numbers up to 100 while examining the relationship between multiplication and division. Learners solve multiplication and division problems, multiplying by multiples of 10, and learning the remaining multiplication facts to 10 × 10.

They also develop strategies for adding and subtracting two-digit and three-digit numbers with sums and differences to 400. Learners add multiples of 10 and 100 to, and subtract them from, three-digit numbers. They learn to use multiples of 100 as landmarks as they solve addition and subtraction problems with three-digit numbers, including problems that involve liquid volume and mass. Third graders understand and extend knowledge of place value and the number system to 1,000, and add and subtract accurately and efficiently. Students use a place value to represent numbers as hundreds, tens, and ones, and find equivalent ways to use hundreds, tens, and ones to represent a given number. Learners use bar graphs, pictographs, and line plots to represent, describe, and compare data. They solve one- and two-step “how many more” and “how many less” problems using information presented in the graphs. Learners also generate measurement data in inches, half-inches, feet, and yards. They focus on classifying 2-D figures and understanding and finding perimeter and area using standard units of measurement. Third graders study the meaning of fractions as numbers and as equal parts of a whole; reasoning about equivalent fractions; comparing fractions; and using notation to model fractions and fraction relationships.

Fourth Grade learners in Fourth Grade grow in their understanding and fluency of addition and subtraction up to one million. In addition, they become efficient problem solvers with multi-digit multiplication and division with multi-digit dividends. Learners develop strategies and skills around equivalence, addition, subtraction and multiplication of fractions and mixed numbers.

Decimals, fractions and place value are also explored as Fourth Graders develop greater fluency around decimal and whole number operations. Their geometric thinking evolves to incorporate concepts of perimeter and area, by using formulas, as well as angle measurement and symmetry of 2-D and 3-D figures.

Social Studies

Learning how to live and become a morally conscious member of a community is a central concept for our children. Our learners engage in meaningful studies around civics, history, economics, and geography where they use their problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, inquiry, and perspective-taking skills. The children feel empowered that their voice makes a difference and begin to understand that others have similar or differing perspectives. Learning to respect these differences helps develop empathy, and children become equipped to constructively respond to and understand differences. They begin to make powerful connections between past and future and begin to develop a better understanding of the world around them.

Kindergarten engages in deep studies around the social studies arc “Who Am I?” As learners study themselves, their family, and their school, they experience many social skills, including problem solving and collaboration.

They are guided by the essential questions: “Who am I? Who am I within my family? Who am I within my school?” Learners are thinking deeply about their identities and the identities of others to grow a better understanding of their place in the world. Through this process, they connect to and empathize with people in their school community. They use knowledge and perspective as they uncover a need their class or school may have, and then take constructive and collaborative steps to work toward solutions. They feel empowered that their voice makes a difference. Through experiences, materials, and interviews, learners will enhance their understanding of who they are.

First Grade learners engage in deep studies around the social studies arc “Where We Live.” As learners
study our school neighborhood, Miami Beach, they develop many social skills, including problem
solving and collaboration.

They are guided by the essential questions: “What is a neighborhood?
How does a neighborhood serve the people who live and work there?” Learners think deeply
about the needs and wants of community members. Through this process, learners connect to
and empathize with the things workers and families need. Learners use knowledge and
perspective as they uncover a need the community has, and then take constructive and
collaborative steps to work toward solutions. Learners feel empowered that their voice makes a
difference. Learners will partner with community members and visit places around Miami Beach
to enhance their experiences and understandings.

Second Grade learners engage in deep studies around the social studies arc “Florida, the Geography and its Wildlife.” As learners study different ecosystems in Florida, they develop many social skills, including discussion, problem solving and collaboration.

Learners are guided by the essential questions: “How do different habitats affect ways of life? What is the relationship between Florida’s geography and its wildlife?” Learners think deeply about Florida’s diverse habitats. Through this process, learners connect to and empathize with how Florida’s habitats affect people and animals. Learners use knowledge and perspective as they uncover a need the state ecosystems have, and then take constructive and collaborative action to work towards solutions. Second graders feel empowered that their research and voice makes a difference. Learners will visit some of Florida’s unique environments to enhance their experience and understanding.

Third Grade learners engage in research-based, collaborative studies around the Social Studies arc, “Powerful Floridians, Then and Now.” As learners study the history, cultures, and human impact of Floridians over time, they gain perspective on Florida today. Learners are guided by the essential questions: “How do individuals represent history, cultures, and human relationships? How can we compare and contrast issues of long ago with issues of today?” “How does history affect our lives today?”

The studies will begin with Native Americans. In learning about the ways in which Florida has developed and changed, learners will embark on a social justice study. Children will study the important, influential individuals/activists who fought for a need, an issue, a problem. Learners will examine the issues the individuals faced, the important events of their lives, their human characteristics, the ways they fought for their beliefs, and what they accomplished. Through hands-on investigative research and content knowledge gained from literature, children will express understanding through various modalities and materials. Through this inquiry-based process and direct experience from field trips, guest speakers, and first-hand research, learners use knowledge and perspective to take constructive and dynamic steps to solidify their place in the world today. Third graders will have authentic opportunities to make deeper connections between Florida long ago and now, and the powerful individuals who led the way, and still inspire us today.

Fourth Grade learners engage more deeply in demonstrating an understanding of the physical geographic features that define places and regions of Florida. As learners research, discuss, and write to describe the social, political, cultural and economic life among Floridians (historically), they will build upon such anchored knowledge and understanding to the structures, functions, and powers of the local, state and federal governments as described in the U.S. Constitution.

Learners are guided by the essential questions: “How has Florida grown? Who came to Florida, and how did it affect the state? Who came to the United States? And, what was life like for such immigrants as opposed to people who had lived in the US?” As Fourth Grade learners develop a deeper understanding of the story of the United States, its history in terms of its vast and varied geography, its many ways of immigration, and continuous diversity — they will gain a grounding perspective, and ultimately see elements of themselves and their families reflected in this study.

Science

Children are naturally curious. Because we embrace this, our science experiences are inquiry-based. We explore four disciplinary science core ideas (science arcs): Earth and space science; life science; physical science; and engineering, technology, and applications of science. The learners are given the time and space to investigate, manipulate, analyze, discuss, record, and predict based on their observations and questions to create theories of understanding.

Kindergarten learners create theories of understanding during deep studies around the essential question “Who Am I?”, they gain an awareness and curiosity of their immediate school environment including:

forces and interactions (pushes and pulls); interdependent relationships in ecosystems (plants, humans, and animals); weather and climate; and the study of engineering and design. During the studies and playful inquiry opportunities, learners are given the time and space to ask questions, plan and carry out investigations, and analyze and interpret data based on their observations and questions.

First Grade learners create theories of understanding during studies around the arc “Where We Live,” they
experience how to observe and manipulate sound and light; study patterns and cycles of space systems;
gain an awareness of the structure and function of plants and animals (including humans); explore the
ocean; and learn about engineering and design.

During the studies and playful inquiry opportunities,
learners are given the time and space to ask questions, plan and carry out investigations, and analyze
and interpret data based on their observations and questions.

Second Grade learners create theories of understanding during deep studies around the arc “Florida – the Geography and its Wildlife ,” they study the structure and properties of matter; explore interdependent relationships of plants and animals (including humans) in ecosystems; discover processes that shape the Earth, including the role of water; and learn about engineering and design.

During the studies and playful inquiry opportunities, learners are given the time and space to ask questions, plan and carry out investigations, and analyze and interpret data based on their observations and questions.

Third Grade learners create theories of understanding during Deep Studies around the learning arc, “Powerful Floridians, Then and Now”, third graders explore weather patterns and how the impact of weather-related hazards can be reduced. Learners study organisms’ traits, compare and contrast plants, animals and environments of Florida’s past and present.

In addition, they observe what happens to plants and animals when the environment changes. Third graders investigate equal and unequal forces of an object and engage in a study of magnets. Learners are given the time and space to ask questions, define problems, develop and use models, construct explanations and communicate information learned.

Fourth Grade as much as possible, science investigation is integrated into and supported by the social studies, year-long, classroom deep studies. Science studies are connected with a community action or service learning component, either inside the school or in the larger community. Fourth grade learners ask questions, develop and use models, plan and carry out investigations, analyze and interpret data, construct explanations and design solutions, engage in argument from evidence, and obtain, evaluate, and communicate information.

Learners will use these skills to describe patterns of waves. They will develop an understanding of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation. In order to describe patterns of Earth’s features, learners will analyze and interpret data from maps. Fourth graders are expected to develop an understanding that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction. They will describe that an object can be seen when light reflected from its surface enters the eye. Learners will use evidence to construct an explanation of the relationship between the speed and energy of an object and how that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents or from object to object through collisions.

We love our teachers!