Curriculum and Instructional Focus: The DCPS Kindergarten – Grade 5 Math/Reading/Writing curriculum is based on rigorous COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS that set high expectations for all students. These standards define important developmental skills for children, and are taught system-wide. They spell out what students should know and be able to do in each subject, at each grade level and in every school. They can be found on the DCPS website www.dcps.dc.gov. Teachers are expected to use DCPS standards-based curriculum documents to guide instruction for science, social studies and health.
The learning standards in Early Childhood Education (Kindergarten Readiness), reading/English language arts and mathematics are among the best in the nation, and are the cornerstone of the school system’s commitment to provide an excellent education to each 3 and 4 year old student.
DCPS has also developed short guides to help parents and family members better understand the ambitious learning standards and how they can support their child’s learning. The guides are available in six languages: English, Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, Vietnamese and Amharic. They can be found on the DCPS website www.dcps.dc.gov.
Maury classroom and special-subject (music, art, library, Think Tank, health, and P.E.) teachers are responsible for designing and implementing learning activities to reinforce and challenge students of varying abilities through small and whole group instruction. They nurture critical thinking, promote the value of personal and civic responsibility, and foster positive social interaction. The curriculum itself offers opportunities to develop positive self-esteem, responsible personal conduct, cooperative citizenship, and an appreciation of the rich heritage of our multicultural society.
Reading: Reading instruction emphasizes the teaching of reading as a thinking process. Therefore, every effort is made to ensure that reading is interwoven into the flow of events throughout the day, in addition to time provided daily for formal reading instruction. At Maury, the Readers’ Workshop model (Teacher’s College, Columbia University) is integrated throughout the curriculum in grades Kindergarten to 5. In reading workshops, students are taught the strategies and habits of effective reading. They learn to talk, think and write about their reading to live enriched, literate lives. In the Preschool and Pre-K classes, the Creative Curriculum ® is utilized across the content areas. This curriculum addresses all areas of development: social/emotional, physical, cognitive and language. It also guides our teachers on how to address content in: literacy, math, science, social studies, arts and technology. Creative Curriculum® classrooms are organized into multiple interest areas that offer children the opportunity to explore, discover and grow.
Writing: In 2006, our school was selected by DCPS to implement the Writers’ Workshop model (Teachers College, Columbia University). Our teachers devote a minimum of 30-45 minutes, 4-5 times a week (depending on grade levels) to provide instruction in writing. The units of study include the writing of personal narratives, essays, character studies, poetry and memoirs. The writing block begins with a mini-lesson in which teachers offer ten minutes of direct and explicit instruction. After this, students work in highly structured yet responsive environments to draft and revise their writing in ways that incorporate the instruction they received. Teachers, meanwhile, confer with their students individually and in small groups.
Mathematics: The elementary level mathematics program involves understanding mathematical concepts and structures, learning computation skills, and applying mathematics in real world situations. The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics include eight Standards of Practice: 1) Make sense of the problem and persevere in solving them. 2) Reason abstractly and quantitatively. 3) Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. 4) Model with mathematics. 5) Use appropriate tools strategically. 6) Attend to precision. 7) Look for and make use of structures. 8) Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. Singapore Math curriculum is used in Grades K-5. www.singaporemath.com
Science: A goal of science education is to teach students the fundamental concepts of the earth, space, life, and physical sciences and the connections across these domains. We encourage an understanding that much of the scientific work done in the world draws on multiple disciplines. Another goal is to teach students about the active process of investigation and the critical review of evidence. Gathering and evaluating information, perceiving patterns, and then devising and testing possible explanations about the scientific content they are learning, prompts students to become independent and critical thinkers. Our Inquiry Learning Lab (Think Tank, http://maurythinktank.blogspot.com/), further propels our students’ depth in understanding through the execution and completion of hands-on, problem-based projects.
Social Studies: Adapted from the California and Massachusetts curriculum frameworks, the DCPS standards strike a balance between United States (US) and world history, and incorporate the many disciplines of the social sciences. These standards integrate the four major disciplines of history, geography, economics, and politics and government.