Oakhill Academy is a non-secular, not-for-profit school for students in Transitional Kindergarten through Grade 8. The following is a description of our core program as it applies to every student.
The Language Arts Program has been developed to enable all students to be introduced to language as a viable form of communication, an invaluable skill, to extend thinking about themselves, others and the world, and an art to be enjoyed. Language as a skill provides the students with important tools to listen attentively, to speak fluently, to read and comprehend, to compose and to be clearly understood. The integrated approach to language arts defines the curriculum with a form of authentic, literature-based instruction. This exposure to a variety of authors vicariously opens new worlds of adventure, interesting characters, social issues, and cultures from around the world.
At Oakhill, we aim to develop reading fluency, thinking, and independence and the ability to apply the kills they are taught in reading for pleasure as well as for constructing meaning about what they read in the content areas.
Responding to literature is another integral part of our reading program. Students are encouraged to make connections about their reading by responding to what they have read in words, pictures, or discussions with other students and teachers. As students progress through the elementary grades, the elements of fiction and nonfiction texts such as setting, characterization, plot, problem and solution, glossary, captions etc. are introduced and reinforced. Students are taught to use strategies like paraphrasing, retelling, and visualization to help them make sense of what they read.
In all grades, teachers read aloud to students as well as encourage them to read independently or with a partner. Each grade level has an extensive classroom library with a full range of books including poetry, realistic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, and classic novels. In addition, the elementary school library is well-equipped with a wide variety of reading materials. Students are encouraged to borrow materials that interest them as well as to use library as a quiet place to simply sit and read a favorite book.
Research demonstrates that the single best predictor of reading achievement is the amount of time spent reading.
The Reader’s Workshop model is used to ensure that all students are reading books that are “just right” for them, and that they are able to advance appropriately based on their own personal stage of readiness and interest.
Writing skills are developed at all levels of the Elementary School curriculum. Children write daily as they explore ideas, communicate their experiences, and respond to the literature they read. The Writer’s Workshop approach helps students develop fluency and build confidence in writing. This model involves a mini-lesson where the teacher explicitly teaches strategies and skills related to a genre study. Students write to topics of their choice and have the opportunity to develop pieces through the full writing process of drafting, revising, editing, and then producing a final copy. Teachers are able to confer with individuals and small groups of students to help with revision and editing and provide individual instruction. The Writer’s Workshop will foster high-level thinking through regular chances to synthesize, analyze, and critique while building writing independence.
Beginning in Junior Kindergarten, children are encouraged to make the connection between sounds and letters in words, and by Grade 1 they begin to make a gradual transition from invented to standard spellings through the study of some high-frequency words and common spelling patterns. In Grades 2–5, children are held accountable for correctly spelling more difficult high-frequency words, while learning to apply spelling generalizations and patterns. Children are taught how to consult a dictionary and electronic spell-checkers for spelling assistance, and final drafts of writing are edited for correct spelling. Beginning in the third grade, students engage in a more formalized study of grammar rules and usage. A comprehensive study of vocabulary includes word meanings, roots, and inflected endings.
The aims of Oakhill’s Language and Literature courses are to encourage and enable students to:
- Use language as a vehicle for thought, creativity, reflection, learning, self-expression, analysis and social interaction
- Develop the skills involved in listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and presenting in a variety of contexts
- Develop critical, creative and personal approaches to studying and analyzing literary and non-literary texts
- Engage with text from different historical periods and a variety of cultures
- Explore and analyze aspects of personal, host and other cultures through literary and non-literary texts
- Explore language through a variety of media and modes
- Develop a lifelong interest in reading
- Apply linguistic and literary concepts and skills in a variety of authentic contexts
Mathematics & Numeracy
The impact of technology on society and a scan of the future trends clearly indicates that instruction must go beyond the content taught and actively engage learners in demonstrating how they can select, interpret, use, and share selected information. The mathematics program at Oakhill incorporates into the curriculum both conceptual and procedural understandings of math as well as arithmetical computation, ensuring that students have a deep understanding of math concepts and are strong problem solvers who can compute well and communicate their thinking. The seven strands of mathematical concepts are introduced, developed, and enhanced at every grade level with a spiraling curriculum that builds on the skills learned in prior years. These strands include: Computation, Problem Solving, Numbers and Operations, Statistics and Probability, Measurement, Algebraic Concepts, and Geometry .
In addition to the content standards, the Common Core integrates 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice. These describe a variety of proficiencies that teachers should focus on developing in their students. These practices draw from both The National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and the National Research Council’s report Adding it Up.
The aims of Oakhill’s mathematics courses are to encourage and enable students to:
- Enjoy mathematics, develop curiosity, and begin to appreciate its elegance and power
- Develop an understanding of the principles and nature of mathematics
- Communicate clearly and confidently in a variety of contexts
- Develop logical, critical, and creative thinking
- Develop confidence, perseverance, and independence in mathematical thinking and problem solving
- Develop powers of generalization and abstraction
- Apply and transfer skills to a wide range of real life situations, other areas of knowledge and future developments
- Appreciate how developments in technology and mathematics have influenced each other
- Appreciate the moral, social and ethical implications arising from the work of mathematicians and the applications of mathematics
- Appreciate the international dimensions in mathematics through an awareness of the universality of mathematics and its multicultural and historical perspectives
The science program at Oakhill uses the inquiry method based on the FOSS Science System and correlated to appropriate standards and benchmarks. FOSS is a research-based science curriculum for grades K–8 developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at Berkeley. The FOSS program materials are designed to meet the challenge of providing meaningful science education for all students in diverse American classrooms and to prepare them for life in the 21st century.
Science is an active enterprise, made active by our human capacity to think. Scientific knowledge advances when scientists observe objects and events, think about how they relate to what is known, test their ideas in logical ways, and generate explanations that integrate the new information into the established order. Thus the scientific enterprise is both what we know (content) and how we come to know it (process). The best way for students to appreciate the scientific enterprise, learn important scientific concepts, and develop the ability to think critically is to actively construct ideas through their own inquiries, investigations, and analyses. The FOSS program was created to engage students in these processes as they explore the natural world.
Through our year-long study of Earth, Life, and Physical science, we aim to encourage and enable students to:
- Understand and appreciate science and its implications
- Consider science as a human endeavor with benefits and limitations
- Cultivate analytical, inquiring and flexible minds that pose questions, solve problems, construct explanations, and judge arguments
- Develop skills to design and perform investigations, evaluate evidence, and reach conclusions.
- Build an awareness of the need to effectively collaborate and communicate
- Apply language skills and knowledge in a variety of real-life contexts
- Develop sensitivity towards the living and non-living environments
- Reflect on learning experiences and make informed choices
The elementary social studies curriculum is designed to promote curiosity about the world in which we live. Through readings, activities, and discussions, students begin to understand about where they live, how the first civilizations began, the development of society, and the inter-relatedness of the environment and human activities. At each grade level the eight key areas of social studies (standards) are addressed through an overarching theme. These standards require students not only to acquire core knowledge in history and social science, but also to develop the critical thinking skills that historians and social scientists employ to study the past and its relationship to the present. In kindergarten through grade three, students are introduced to the basic concepts of each discipline: history, geography, civics, and economics.
Beginning at grade four, the disciplines are woven together within the standards at each grade. The critical thinking skills that support the study of history–social science are outlined in the sections for grades five, eight, and ten. To approach subject matter as historians, geographers, economists, and political scientists, students are expected to employ these skills as they master the content.
The aim of Oakhill’s Social Studies program of studies is to encourage and enable students to:
- Appreciate human and environmental commonalities and diversity
- Understand the interactions and interdependence of individuals, societies and the environment
- Understand how both environmental and human systems operate and evolve
- Identify and develop concern for the well-being of human communities and the natural environment.
- Act as responsible citizens of local and global communities
- Develop inquiry skills that lead toward conceptual understandings of the relationships between individuals, societies, and the environments in which they live.