Curriculum - Lower School

Grades K-5

Chartwell School provides a comprehensive academic program which includes all areas of reading and language instruction, mathematics, social studies, science, wellness and fitness, the arts, technology and a wide array of enrichment activities. Students master and build academic skills one layer at a time. Each layer integrates higher-order thinking skills, creativity, perseverance and problem solving.

Students at Chartwell are grouped by ability, rather than traditional grade levels, for language and math placement. This allows for small group instruction that addresses the student’s specific academic needs. Teachers at Chartwell are specially trained to work with students with dyslexia and use effective teaching strategies to engage students in the learning process and provide opportunities for them to experience success. Guiding students to learn how they learn, not just what they learn, will empower them throughout their school years to be independent learners and advocates for their academic needs.

Reading

Our youngest groups of students are usually in grade 2. All research supports the need for parents and educators to identify any child at risk for falling behind in reading as early as possible. Students who receive early intervention are more likely to attain and apply the fluent reading and critical comprehension skills they will need in later school years.
Chartwell’s reading program for the lower school is both diagnostic and prescriptive. In this nurturing environment, teachers provide instruction in five critical areas of reading:
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Phonics and decoding
  • Reading fluency
  • Vocabulary development
  • Comprehension skills
Reading and spelling instruction is direct and explicit, using well-structured and systematic multi-sensory approaches. Teachers check for understanding and pace the materials to allow for more practice and repetition to develop automaticity. At Chartwell, we monitor each aspect of a student’s reading challenge and provide instruction that addresses those needs while preparing students for the faster pace and independent demands of middle school coursework.

Mathematics

In mathematics, diagnostic teaching is critical in assessing student skill development and readiness for the introduction of new concepts. Math instruction includes hands-on activities and , as appropriate, and emphasizes a strong foundation in math concepts as a base for ongoing growth and understanding. New skills and procedures are practiced repeatedly for students to gain mastery, and the math curriculum allows students to review and reinforce skills as they learn new ones. Some students struggle with memorization and greatly benefit from learning strategies to compensate for their difficulties with math facts and recall of processes and procedures.

Science

Science classes in the lower school take advantage of our students’ natural curiosity and inquisitiveness about the world around them through experiments and other hands-on projects. Science content and topics include:

  • Physical Science (Matter, Chemical Reactions, Electricity, etc.)
  • Earth Science (Minerals and Rocks, Weather and Erosion, etc.)
  • Life Science (Animals, Plants, Ecology, Heredity, The Body, etc.)
Through lab experiments and discussions, students investigate, observe, collect data, test, predict and hypothesize to acquire scientific knowledge. Students participate in our school sponsored Science Fair, Wind Festival and Ocean Festival to further investigate topics of individual interests.

Humanities

Our humanities classes are aligned with California Content Standards by grade level. Students study geography, history, biographies of important historical figures, cultural contributions and current events. Through discussions, films, hands-on projects, field trips and guest speakers, students study how the past has impacted present day and how it might affect the future. Students learn how to conduct research on an event, civilization or person being studied and create PowerPoint presentations, artwork and other innovative ways to present their understanding.

Technology

All lower school students at Chartwell attend rotating two-week blocks in technology, science, and art. During their technology block, students complete projects in each of the standard areas outlined in the National Education Technology Standards for students:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical-Thinking, Problem-solving and Decision-Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
Students learn and use assistive technology built into Apple computers while completing projects, such as using text-to-speech while researching, Dictation software while composing text, or note-taking using Cornell Notes. They use digital cameras to capture images and edit them in Photoshop, Pages or Preview. Students learn the basics of computer programing and coding in Scratch. Each class period begins with ten-minutes of keyboarding practice to develop accuracy and speed. Technology is embedded across the curriculum as an important learning tool, and classrooms have carts of laptops to provide one-on-one access in all academic classes.

Art

Chartwell students often excel in the visual arts, and students are encouraged to explore and express their creativity in original works of art. Students learn basic principles of color, design and art elements while experimenting with color, patterns, shapes, perspective and materials. Students apply techniques to drawing, painting, crafts, sculpture and clay. Art is integrated across the curriculum in various ways: a painting to illustrate a poem written in language arts, designing a Grecian Urn or Egyptian artifact for humanities class, or creating a 3-D mural of the ocean for science.

Music

Our music program uses the Orff-Schulwerk educational approach to build musicianship through the integration of all aspects of music, rhythm, structured and unstructured movement, singing, percussion instruments, recorders, speech and drama. Students are exposed to a variety of music, composers and songs to nurture interest, talent and appreciation.

Wellness and Fitness

The Chartwell Wellness and Fitness program, for both Lower and Middle School, is designed to guide students in two primary areas: physical fitness and teamwork. The physical aspect of the program explores different activities needed to give students a basic understanding of the skills needed for playing the games, but emphasis is on cooperation, communication and keeping their bodies fit and healthy. Teamwork skills are integrated into the program to guide students in developing the necessary tools for problem solving and to promote self-esteem. The students are encouraged to resolve disagreements by means of cooperation, team building, respect and compromise.
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