Lower School Grades 1 – 4
Through their coursework in religion, students grow in their understanding of God’s love for them and their knowledge of the Church, and they celebrate their lived faith. The religion program holistically embraces the four pillars of the Catholic Church: creed, liturgy and sacrament, moral life, and prayer. Masses and prayer services are held monthly for all to join together as a school community as we worship and deepen our personal relationships with God. In the second grade, students deepen their commitment to God and the Church through the preparation and celebration of the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. Active participation, Christian values, and service projects are key components of our faith program. Children are encouraged to live out their discipleship amongst their peers, families, and the school and parish community.
English Language Arts
The English Language Arts program is a rigorous program that is both engaging and stimulating. The program is structured around the New York State Next Generation ELA Learning Standards and encompasses phonics, grammar, spelling, reading, writing, and public speaking. Our curriculum is designed to teach students to think, listen, and process on an advanced level. In order to achieve this, the children are exposed to a wide variety of literature with a large focus on non-fiction works. The writing program includes a variety of writing genres such as personal narrative, opinion pieces, short compositions, research projects, and poetry, among others. Through the writing process the students outline, draft, revise, and publish their writing as they learn to communicate ideas, express feelings, and state facts or opinions. Through the use of Blending Learning, students are able to receive individualized practice in key skills and meet with the classroom teacher for small group and individual instruction. Teachers use data acquired from classroom assessments, as well as Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments, to guide differentiated and personalized instruction for each student. Students receive instruction in handwriting, both print and cursive, throughout their Lower School years. Students in Grades 3 and 4 are prepared for and take the New York State ELA exam annually. Based on the most recent data, St. Joseph’s School performed in the top 10% in New York State on this exam.
The math curriculum follows the New York State Next Generation Math Learning Standards, which is designed to promote a deeper understanding and a greater knowledge of mathematics. This program works toward developing mathematical, procedural, and problem-solving skills. Students acquire a strong foundation of number sense and math concepts by using multiple strategies to solve problems, deconstructing and constructing numbers in a variety of ways. They learn to explain their strategies, using appropriate math vocabulary, as well as visual representations. This builds their confidence as mathematicians and provides them with a variety of tools to tackle math problems. The core skills of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts are fostered with hands-on activities using manipulative materials. Problem solving strategies and mathematical reasoning are practiced to arrive at solutions. The mathematics program is enriched by activities in fractions, linear and liquid measurement, telling time, the value of money, geometry, and graphing. Students are encouraged to formulate generalizations about patterns and estimate probability. Through the use of Blended Learning, teachers can provide small group and individual instruction, and students are able to practice skills at their own pace. Teachers use data gathered from classroom assessments and Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments to guide differentiated instruction for each student. Students in Grades 3 and 4 are prepared for and take the New York State Mathematics exam in the spring of each year. Based on the most recent data, St. Joseph’s School performed in the top 10% in New York State on this exam.
In science, teachers endeavor to cultivate a sense of wonder and curiosity, the understanding of how much the application of science has given us, as well as the infinite possibilities that lie ahead. Students become familiar with the scientific method of proposing a hypothesis and testing it, recording results, and understanding the cause and effect relationship. A large part of this experience allows for the students to develop skills to observe, classify, estimate, measure, infer, and predict and then apply these skills to the scientific method. Classroom learning of science concepts is enhanced by hands-on experiments, labs, and investigations in their well-equipped science lab. For example first graders can be found learning about animal habitats, while fourth graders learn how earthquakes occur and then construct and test model buildings to see if they could withstand an earthquake. Some topics that students may explore in science include plant growth, butterfly lifecycle, sound and light, weather, simple and complex machines, magnets, gravity, electricity, forms of matter, and health and nutrition. Connections are made and concepts further developed during time spent in the school library where additional references are utilized and students can sharpen their skills in reading and responding to informational texts.
Students grow in their understanding of the communities of which they are members, beginning with their families and neighborhoods in first grade and expanding to all of New York State by fourth grade. The content of the Social Studies curriculum has an emphasis on the similarities and differences of people and how geography influences their lives. Students have the opportunity to develop investigatory and analytical thinking through research projects, artwork, and computer-based projects. An introduction to the United Sates and to our relationships with the world around us is explored to identify similarities and differences. This is accomplished through reading maps, exploring natural resources, identifying needs and wants, examining the responsibilities of citizenship, and discussing rules and laws.