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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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
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. 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
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