Elementary School at the Arthur I. Meyer Jewish Academy
A brief overview of the Kindergarten - 2nd Grade curriculum:
The language arts program at the Meyer Jewish Academy is designed to provide students with the listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills needed to be able to communicate effectively and comprehend our world. Basic language skills, literature analysis skills, and composition process skills are emphasized throughout the program. Reading and writing develop together as children gain experience with language and literature.
In first grade, students extend their understanding of letter sounds, decoding, and word recognition while developing comprehension skills and applying rules for written language. Students have the opportunity to read a variety of texts, to listen to literature, and to respond to books, poetry, plays, and other written materials. First graders increase vocabulary, concept development, and reading stamina by reading self-selected texts independently and through shared reading. The primary goal of the language arts program is to teach the strategies and skills needed to read, write, speak, and understand while developing a lifelong appreciation for all that literacy has to offer. The writing program highlights six traits: sentence fluency, idea development, conventions, organization, word choice, and voice.
Continuing with the focus on basic language skills, literature analysis skills, and writing process skills, second grade students learn to demonstrate comprehension by predicting outcomes, identifying main ideas, and locating supporting details. Students read and reread to clarify ideas and use context clues to confirm meaning. Reading with fluency and expression increases throughout the year. The integration of language arts with social studies exposes students to quality literature that fosters an appreciation for other cultures.
The kindergarten math program at Meyer Academy provides students with a substantial foundation in basic concepts. The program focuses on helping students make sense of mathematics in meaningful ways. Number sense, which includes estimation, mental math, and place value, is a driving force of the program. The program also emphasizes the development of problem-solving strategies as students learn to integrate reading, mathematics, and critical thinking skills.
Students strengthen the mathematics foundation working with whole numbers, addition, subtraction, fractions, and basic geometric shapes. They begin to understand more abstract mathematical vocabulary and concepts, such as those dealing with time, money, measurement, and patterns. The rudimentary foundation of algebra is explored as students learn to justify the value of an unknown in a simple number sentence.
Students use a math program that connects mathematics to their world. Students master basic skills, demonstrate automatic fact recall, and develop problem-solving skills and strategies as they learn to integrate reading, mathematics, and critical thinking skills. Second grade mathematic skills include: numeration, number sequences, number theory, estimation, graphing, place value, time, money, geometry, perimeter and area, fractions, linear measurement, capacity, weight, temperature, and probability.
Students in kindergarten actively participate in hands-on science experiments to introduce them to the process of scientific inquiry and investigation. Students gain an understanding of the scientific process including asking a question or recognizing a problem, developing a hypothesis, conducting experiments, evaluating information, and drawing conclusions. Kindergarten students engage in active exploration and discovery of color, senses, weather, space, and the lifecycle of living things.
Science instruction in first grade is based on the 5 E’s: Engage, Explore, Explain, Evaluate, and Extend. Students actively participate in laboratory-centered scientific inquiries and hands-on experiments. They follow the scientific method of developing hypotheses, testing, evaluating, recording and analyzing results, and drawing conclusions. Through scientific exploration and experimentation, students develop an understanding of the physical world around them. First graders also conduct their own scientific investigation and participate in the annual Meyer Academy Science Fair.
Meyer Academy second grade students actively participate in laboratory-centered scientific inquiries and experiments. Scientific knowledge, process skills, and values are the foundation of hands-on, student-centered science activities. Students develop an understanding of the scientific method by developing hypotheses then testing, evaluating, and drawing conclusions about their hypotheses. Again utilizing science instruction based on the 5E's — Engage, Explore, Explain, Evaluate and Extend — students are motivated to master a body of general knowledge, science vocabulary, and facts. This process integrates other core subject areas (such as reading, writing, math skills) and assists the student in developing critical thinking skills.
Kindergarten students learn to speak Hebrew through an audio-lingual approach. We will speak to them mostly in Hebrew and they will gradually begin to respond to us with Hebrew words, phrases, and sentences. We teach Torah portion of the week by reading stories as well as hands-on activities, role-playing and discussion. Students will study many of the different mitzvot, such as honoring your parents and we explore Israel’s industries, its cultures, and all that its wonderful cities have to offer. We join our students’ families in watching the love of learning blossom within each child.
Our first grade curriculum for Hebrew language and Jewish Studies is based on the principles of communicative heritage language acquisition. Our program activates learning by utilizing a wide range of activities and integrating Hebrew language acquisition, the development of Jewish concepts and values, speaking, reading and writing skills. For every holiday our students will gain an understanding of the laws and customs related to each holiday as well as special brachot - blessings. We will read a variety of books to enrich the students’ knowledge. We will learn songs, dances, and participate in hands-on activities. We reinforce Hebrew language skills by having children bring home educational computer games with coordinating books to listen and follow along at home. All of our units include the teaching and the reinforcement of Jewish values.
Our second grade students learning in a gradual and spiral method appropriate to our students’ ability and age. We want our students to develop a strong Jewish identity and a strong connection to the land of Israel. All the concepts we teach are enriched with beautiful songs and stories. For every holiday our students will pursue higher levels of critical thinking and deeper understanding of the laws and customs. Second grade students study the Torah portion of each week immediately after Simchat Torah. Our connection to our homeland is acknowledged daily by, among other things, singing the Hatikvah with understanding.
The kindergarten social studies curriculum is an integrated program that teaches children about the world around us. Critical thinking, social awareness, and conflict-resolution skills are acquired through working in both small and large groups. Students explore themes that help them gain understanding about the world around them, such as: me, family, feelings, neighborhoods and communities, geography, and map skills. Stories, activities, song, discussion, and the use of computer technology highlight what we teach.
The first grade social studies program uses instructional practices that allow students to “experience” social studies. Students learn through a variety of teaching strategies that include visual discovery, experiential exercises, writing for understanding, and problem-solving group work. They explore topics that answer both school-centered and family-related topics. How to be a good neighbor, how we learn from each other, and map skills are also part of the social studies experience. An integral part of the social studies curriculum for first grade is the student current events magazine called “Time for Kids,” which adds a global element and opens the door for relevant communication between students and their parents.
The social studies program allows second graders to broaden their knowledge of the world. Students learn about people and places in their community and compare them to other communities and regions. Students discuss current events, as well as recognize historical figures and their contributions to society. Children in second grade are able to understand the relationship between consumers and producers. They appreciate diversity among cultures in the community and develop skills to resolve conflicts with their classmates.
Music and Visual Arts in Kindergarten - 2nd Grade:
The comprehensive music curriculum at Meyer Academy incorporates grade level-appropriate vocal music, history of music, music appreciation, and theory. Students learn about the different genres of music, from classical to rock, and are introduced to composers spanning the centuries and globe. The visual arts program is designed to provide a basic understanding of the visual elements and principals of art and design, as well as to explore art of other cultures, learn about master artists, and introduce students to essential art history. Students learn how to communicate meaning through the use of line, shape, and color, and understand that art can elicit a variety of responses. In addition, students develop the skills and attitudes needed to preserve and transmit our cultural and Judaic heritage through art. Students are also engaged in age-appropriate theater games, improvisations, play-acting, music, movement, and performance while emphasizing self-esteem and confidence building, enhancing listening skills, learning to follow directions, and encouraging cooperation and self-expression.
Physical Education in Kindergarten - 2nd Grade:
Meyer Academy’s physical education curriculum provides students the opportunity to achieve optimum personal development. We prepare students with the motor, coordination, and planning skills needed for their future through exposures to various individual team and alternative activities. We also provide an outlet for creativity, self-expression, and the development of good sportsmanship. Safety techniques are also taught to reduce accidents outside of school. Students will learn, through movement exercises, spatial awareness and how to manipulate sport, athletic and recreational equipment in order to build a foundation for future athletic sports and leisure games.
Our students have excellent hands-on experiences with iPads and other technology that are part of various learning centers and reading activities throughout the school day.
First graders attend weekly computer class where they are taught the various components of a computer and its care. They learn to launch and quit programs, use word-processing and desktop publishing software to create simple documents, enter text, perform basic editing skills, add pictures and clip art, and print the documents they have created. Desktop computers, laptop computers and iPads are also utilized to reinforce skills taught in other academic areas.
As part of a dual approach to technology learning, skills are taught in weekly computer classes; in addition, the technology teacher collaborates with classroom instructors to teach core technology skills that correspond with interdisciplinary subject matter being taught across the curriculum. Computer lab lessons direct attention to the social, ethical, and human issues surrounding the effects of technology on our world. In second grade, specific skills such as Internet research, keyboarding, and using software programs are emphasized. Students also learn how to create simple multimedia presentations such as PowerPoint or Keynote.
Library Instruction in Kindergarten - 2nd Grade:
Students visit the library for weekly read-aloud, literature promotion, library skills instruction, research projects, and book selection designed to create independent readers who have an appreciation for the pleasure of reading. Library instruction allows students to find, use, and apply information in various situations and activities both inside and outside the classroom. Students are introduced to various genres of literature through story time and follow-up activities. Students also have the opportunity to browse for and select books to be checked out on a weekly basis.