Our elementary school includes grades 3 – 5 and is located at 2120 Dorchester Ave in Dorchester, MA.
As an EL Education School, we use EL Education’s ELA curriculum that combines rigorous, standards-aligned content with effective and engaging instructional practices that link reading and writing with speaking and listening skills. Students read increasingly complex fiction and non-fiction texts and utilize reading, research, and writing skills to learn about compelling topics such as the role of freshwater around the world, simple machines, and human rights.
The yearlong writing curriculum at year grade level is aligned to state Common Core standards to give students the opportunity to practice and master writing in various modes and genres, including narrative writing, poetry, informative/explanatory writing, and opinion writing. In science and social studies expeditions, students conduct independent research and collaborate on written and artistic products that synthesize and communicate their learning for audiences beyond the classroom.
Teachers use a variety of interactive math materials, curricula, and texts from carefully selected math resources to craft lessons that provide a high level of rigor, meet Common Core state standards, prepare students for proficiency on the PARCC exam, and ensure that instruction is differentiated to fit each student’s needs. Lessons emphasizes rigorous reasoning, practice, and reflection through solving real-world problems.
In the early grades, students progressively build an understanding of community, expanding outward from their classroom and school to their neighborhood and city. The elementary social studies curriculum builds on this foundation to explore the geography of our state and early Massachusetts history in Grade 3, U.S. geography and the founding of our nation in Grade 4, and the growth of our country through successive waves of immigration in Grade 5.
Core social studies practices promote essential critical thinking skills used by social scientists and historians. Our social studies curriculum introduces these practices in a developmental sequence across the grades to help students develop a functioning understanding of their world—of time and causation, of place, and of their individual and collective rights and responsibilities as citizens of the United States and the world.
- Geographic Reasoning: Elementary students expand their mapping skills as they determine the absolute and relative locations of important places and geographic features in Massachusetts, the United States, and the world.
- Chronological Reasoning and Causation: Students construct a chronological understanding of U.S. history, beginning with the interaction between the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims in the 17th century, through colonial times and the American Revolution in the 18th century, to the successive waves of immigration that altered the demographic landscape of our nation during the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. As students analyze the conflicts and events leading up to the American Revolution and examine the factors that motivated the Pilgrims and later immigrants to settle in the United States, they learn about cause and effect and realize that history is not a series of predetermined events, but a dynamic process propelled by the choices people make.
- Perspective Taking (Point of View): For students to understand how our diverse histories are represented in textbooks, media, and literature, it is critical for them to explore how our perspectives frame the way we view the world. Beginning in third grade, students ask the following questions when they examine historical texts: Whose story is this? Who is telling the story? Whose story is not being told? They analyze multiple accounts of the same historical event, noting similarities and differences. Third graders compare and contrast the culture, lifeways, and beliefs of the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims. Fourth graders examine the divergent perspectives of the Patriots and the Loyalists, as well as Native Americans and enslaved African Americans during the pivotal years of the American Revolution. Fifth graders consider multiple points of view as they compare the experiences of immigrant groups and define what it means to be an American today.
- Research: Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence: In the upper grades, students conduct increasingly complex independent research projects. Conducting fieldwork and interviewing experts at historical sites gives students a window into the ways historians use primary sources to find out about and interpret the past. Students compare and contrast primary and secondary sources and interpret evidence and information presented in diverse forms, such as charts, graphs, diagrams, timelines, maps, and interactive Web elements.
- Civic Engagement: Through our social studies expeditions, we aim to inspire students to see themselves as history makers and active participants in their communities. For example, fifth graders add their voices to the current immigration debate, integrating what they have learned about past and current immigration to advocate for social justice and reform.
Music-integration. During social studies learning expeditions, students listen to, learn about, and perform musical traditions and genres from the historical periods they are studying. Through music, they begin to have a conversation with history, connecting major political and cultural events and movements through song. For example, fourth graders enliven their investigation of the American Revolution by listening to and singing broadside ballads about the conflicts and events that shaped this pivotal period in the founding of our nation.
In the elementary grades, students continue to build their identities as young scientists and engineers by practicing the scientific method and the engineering design process.
Science and engineering core practices, based on the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by Massachusetts, promote essential problem-solving and critical thinking skills used by scientists and engineers. Our science curriculum introduces these practices in a developmental sequence that builds across the grades to deepen students understanding of their world and appreciation of nature, and to strengthen their ability to design solutions that serve a need.
- Ask Questions (Science) and Identify Problems (Engineering): Elementary school students sharpen their abilities to ask probing questions and identify problems. Each science expedition launches with a building background knowledge workshop designed to stimulate students’ curiosity about a science topic. Student-generated questions guide scientific investigations and help build the tools that students need to form hypotheses, to design experiments and solutions, and to eliminate possible variables. As they seek answers to their questions, students explore cause-and-effect relationships, predict outcomes, collect and analyze data, draw scientific conclusions, and evaluate design solutions.
- Develop and Use Models: Scientists and engineers develop models to communicate their ideas and plans to others. Models represent a situation or a problem and spark questions that lead to constructing explanations, testing theories, and generating data to make predictions. Like scientists and engineers, students evaluate and modify their models through constructive peer critique, feedback, and testing.
- Plan and Carry Out Investigation: In the elementary grades, students take increasing responsibility for structuring investigations based on identified questions and problems. They predict possible outcomes, identify active variables, and plan a controlled course of action to collect data that helps answer the question or solve the problem. Students design experiments and conduct fieldwork, making decisions about how to collect data to provide evidence to support their claims.
- Collect, Analyze, and Interpret Data: Data is a scientist’s strongest tool to confirm or deny questions and claims. Student scientists carefully collect data through investigation, observation, and fieldwork, and record data in interactive science notebooks. Elementary school students expand their interpretation skills to identify significant features and patterns, to use mathematics to compare relationships, and to represent data in multiple ways and for diverse purposes.
- Construct Explanations and Design Solutions: The goal of science practice is to construct explanations for why things occur. An engineer’s goal is to create a workable solution to an identified problem. Elementary school students apply critical thinking skills and mathematical reasoning, using their observations and data to construct a reasonable scientific answer to their original question. Student engineers look at human-made objects in their world with new eyes as they evaluate how an object’s form is thoughtfully designed to address a specific function.
- Gather and Communicate Information: Science and engineering both rely on the communication of ideas and discoveries to fuel new ideas and discoveries. Reading, interpreting, and producing clear and convincing scientific text are fundamental practices. Students gather information through direct observation, experimentation, and structured reading of scientific texts and graphics. Communicating ideas, evidence, and information is accomplished in many ways, including tables, diagrams, graphs, posters, models, writing, and science talks. In each learning expedition, students produce products that synthesize and communicate information and ideas to an authentic audience.
- Serve the Community: In our rapidly changing 21st-century world, scientists and engineers play important roles in improving the quality of our lives. As students mature, they use their science learning to address and help solve real community problems.