Core Knowledge

The Core Knowledge curriculum is a research-based program that is utilized in hundreds of school across the country and is founded on the premise that a grade-by-grade core of common learning is necessary to ensure a sound and complete elementary education. The Core Knowledge curriculum was developed by Dr. E. D. Hirsch, Jr. and is based on a large body of research in cognitive psychology, as well as a careful examination of several of the world's fairest and most effective school systems. Dr. Hirsch has argued that, for the sake of academic excellence, greater fairness and higher literacy, early schooling should provide a solid, specific and shared core curriculum in order to help children establish strong foundations of knowledge.

 

Core Virtues

The Core Virtues program at American Academy explores the character traits which lead us to choose goodness and make the right decisions: Value Others, Integrity, Responsibility, Truthfulness, Understanding, Excellence, and Self-Discipline.

In the program, one virtue is addressed each month and tied in with the academic subjects being taught in the classrooms, so it becomes a seamless and efficient enterprise to teach children lessons of both character and academic content. Additionally, the Core Virtues program is extended to include character recognition and participation in community service.

 

Flexible Ability Grouping

Instruction methods at American Academy focus on the idea that not all students start at the same level, learn in the same way, or master skills at the same pace. Flexible grouping is be used to address the needs of all students, and to challenge them to stretch their abilities and master new skills.

First, every student at American Academy is assessed in several subjects including mathematics, language arts, and science. The students are divided into groups based on academic ability, learning style and other factors. Each group is challenged with concepts and skills appropriate to their readiness level. Each and every group raises the bar for kids, requiring them to stretch themselves to meet expectations. Continuing assessments throughout the year are used to validate or change placement.

Challenging students in all subject areas, including the Core Knowledge science and social studies curriculum, is always a priority. For example, students studying the Civil War who are asked to read literature from that period in history are assigned books based on their individual reading skills.

Finally, technology is used as a tool to challenge kids academically as well as to asses their progress. Flexible grouping and ongoing assessment are used at American Academy to ensure that every child is challenged and that no child is ever left behind.

Click here to learn more about Ability Grouping at American Academy.

 

History

The Core Knowledge Curriculum thoroughly covers History, World Civilizations and Geography. As the students progress through these subjects, they are able to understand the shared values of a civilized society, follow the threads throughout world history that provide a context for the founding of the United States of America, and trace the emergence of the principles on which our nation was founded. Additionally, these studies provide a historical basis for the establishment of the modern world.

 

Language Arts

An effective Language Arts program is the cornerstone of every student's education. Without the basic skills of reading, writing and communicating, students cannot fully participate in the educational process. Therefore, at American Academy, we focus intensely on early literacy to ensure that every child has an opportunity to learn and grow.

 

Reading—SPALDING

For our primary reading program, we use Spalding Writing Road to Reading. Spalding integrated all elements of the language including spelling, writing, and reading. We may also use aspects of other programs for certain children, as necessary to ensure that every child achieves this critical skill. Finally, we use curriculum differentiation by way of flexible groups in order to accommodate the skill level of every child.

 

Writing—Step Up to Writing, 6+1 Trait Writing, SHURLEY GRAMMAR

American Academy integrates several programs including Shurley Grammar, Step Up to Writing and 6+1 Trait Writing.  Shurley Grammar provides a strong grammar base, gives step-by-step instructions, connects grammar and writing, and is fun and exciting for children to learn.  Step Up to Writing, developed here in Colorado by Maureen Auman, is a very systematic and structured approach to the process of writing.  And 6+1 Trait Writing deepens understanding through the seven traits of writing and a linkage with reading.

 

Math

The Saxon Math program is implemented for mathematics at American Academy. The scope and sequence of Saxon math is a perfect complement to Core Knowledge. Instead of relying on rote memorization, Saxon Math is taught incrementally, such that each lesson builds on previous lessons, resulting in a deep and lasting understanding. Studies have shown the effectiveness of cumulative learning through distributed instruction. American Academy implements flexible grouping based on mastery of skills in conjunction with the Saxon Math program.

 

Science and Technology

The Core Knowledge curriculum covers scientific concepts that build from grade to grade. Children at American Academy experience science in a hands-on manner as well as study and apply the processes used by scientists through this core curriculum. Through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Program and STEM Discovery Week, students are exposed to the applications and implications of scientific concepts learned in the Core Knowledge curriculum.

Technology is integrated into everyday learning at American Academy, in order to develop 21st Century Learners. It is used as a learning enabling tool, an output tool, an assessment tool, and a subject for study. Research-based and -proven software programs are integrated in the regular curriculum. Per our Technology Scope and Sequence American Academy implements ISTE's Educational Technology Standards for Students. Students are taught to become very familiar with computers, through explicit instruction on keyboarding, basic navigation and important applications such as word processing, spreadsheet, email and presentation software. Being able to use a computer as a tool to communicate and articulate is an essential skill in today’s society, and American Academy ensures this skill becomes as much of a habit as walking and talking. These skills are aligned and integrated with the Core Knowledge curriculum. For example, while learning about Ancient Greece second graders are asked to research a specific ruin and develop a Power Point presentation on their findings to be shared with the class.

Technology also streamlines our school operations and communications. Parents are able to access their student’s grades and progress in real-time via a secure website. Students download their homework or collaborate on a project over the web. Teachers have immediate access to assessment data so they can adapt instruction accordingly.

 

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)

Because we feel that there just isn't enough science and technology education in U.S. elementary schools, American Academy has developed a unique Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Program to emphasize this subject matter. The idea is not to make little rocket scientists out of our students (though you never know!), but to expose them early to STEM opportunities and nurture the STEM skills their future will demand, and thereby prepare them better for the competition of the global job market of their future.

We want to make STEM accessible and exciting to our elementary-age students and most of all—fun! The program includes an STEM Discovery Week, during which children will have hands-on experiences in STEM and learn in more detail about the applications and implications of scientific concepts learned in the Core Knowledge curriculum.