Elementary School Curriculum Overview
The Ramsey School District is committed to providing all K-5 students with an outstanding education focused on building strong foundation skills, deepening students’ understanding of important ideas in academic subjects, and equipping them to transfer their learning in meaningful and effective ways while building lifelong habits of mind. We believe this can be accomplished by giving all students access to the highest quality curriculum and instruction.
Below you will find curriculum overviews for the core academic subjects (mathematics, science, literacy, and social studies). For more specific grade-level curriculum overviews by subject, please use the toolbar on the left side of this page.
K-5 Literacy is taught using the Balanced Literacy method, which is an approach that supports students as they work to become independent readers and writers. A range of learning opportunities are utilized so that students have a balance of reading and writing by themselves, reading and writing with their teachers and classmates, and watching their teachers do the work of readers and writers. Balanced Literacy is part of a K-5 vision for literacy instruction and 21st Century Learning in the Ramsey School District and originates from Columbia University’s Reading and Writing Project founded by Lucy Calkins. Two of the major components of Balanced Literacy are Reading Workshop and Writing Workshop.
In Reading/Writing Workshop, one strategy is taught each day. During the first part of the Workshop-- the mini lesson-- teachers demonstrate how to use the strategy and then students give it a quick try with their partners on the carpet. Following the mini lesson, students go off on their own for a large chunk of time to read/write independently. This time increases throughout the school year, as the students’ stamina strengthens. During this time, students utilize strategies from their “toolbox,” deciding when to pull on previously learned strategies. While students are reading or writing independently, the teacher spends this precious time conferring with individual students. During these conversations, the teacher informally identifies a strategy that the student is using and explains to the students how it is helpful and that they should keeping using it. Teachers may also decide upon a next teaching point that will raise the level of the child’s reading/writing work. Additionally, teachers may work with small groups while the rest of the class is working independently. Groups are often fluid and are formed based on readiness for new types of books or on a strategy that a few children in the class could use. Workshop time is usually a favorite part of the day since students are reading self selected books or working on personal writing pieces that have been developed over time. Workshop always ends with a “share”-- a time for the class to celebrate the hard work that students are doing.
In Grades 4 and 5, English Language Arts and Social Studies are taught in a Humanities block. Reading, Writing, and Social Studies units are intentionally aligned around one big idea/theme and a few essential questions. The goal is for instruction is for it to be integrated as much as possible between the disciplines.
The Ramsey School District is dedicated to providing a high quality math curriculum to all students. The elementary mathematics program focuses on both content and skills, with the goal of having students successfully apply their skills to problem solving situations. This kind of learning environment also fosters self-direction, discovery, creativity, and curiosity.
Although the acquisition of basic knowledge and skills is important, there is an even greater need to assure students have a conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts. At the elementary level, Ramsey aims to foster number sense and the relationships and structures of numbers. Students utilize a variety of resources to support a well-rounded mathematics education and build a deep understanding of concepts. Not only do students demonstrate their understanding through short-answer and open-ended questions, but they also have the opportunity to apply their knowledge, skills, and understanding in real-world, authentic contexts. Students will use the 21st Century Skills they have been learning to attack and solve performance tasks. They have the opportunity to verbalize and share their thoughts and strategies and gain insights from their classmates. Assessment is daily and ongoing, which allows teachers to monitor student progress and implement appropriate interventions and extensions.
The goal of the K-5 Social Studies Program is to provide young students with the experiences and foundational knowledge they need to become active and responsible citizens of their community, country and world.
The K-3 curriculum follows a clear developmental progression in an effort to build this understanding. In Kindergarten, the curriculum focuses on developing students’ sense of self and their relationship to others around them. In Grade 1, students expand their worldview from their community to their country. In Grade 2 they move from studying their country to their world, and in Grade 3 they spend the year exploring global citizenship. At each grade level, units are centered around developing students’ understanding of geography, economics, history, culture, civics, government, and human rights.
By Grade 4, students take on the role of economists, historians and social scientists as they analyze the significance of the field of social studies and embark on their first official study of United States History (Grade 4) and Ancient Civilizations (Grade 5).
In order to effectively engage in issues important to their community, country and world, students need to be able to read, write and think deeply. They also need to be able to transfer their understanding to situations that happened the past or that may be happening around them. Therefore, where possible and appropriate, Social Studies units, concepts, texts, and methods of instruction are integrated with Balanced Literacy units. This is most clearly seen in Grades 4 and 5, where English Language Arts and Social Studies are taught in a Humanities block. Here, the goal for instruction is for it to be as integrated as possible between the disciplines and Reading, Writing, and Social Studies units are intentionally aligned around one big idea/theme and a few essential questions.
Science is a way of knowing that requires empirical evidence to support reasoning. It is human nature to be curious and curiosity motivates an individual to seek understanding and reason. Science education aims to leverage this natural human emotion to help students learn explanations for natural phenomena.
The K-5 Science Curriculum provides learning experience to build student confidence in doing, talking, and writing about science. Emphasis is placed on having students make sense of the world around them and developing each child's capacity to look closely, design and conduct valid experiments, record data using an organized method, examine data for patterns, and communicate scientific explanations supported by evidence. The science classroom is characterized by active and collaborative learning. The inclusion of informational texts as read alouds or independent reading supports students' acquisition of knowledge and can showcase the explanatory power of the big ideas in life science, physical science, and earth and space science. Engineering design tasks are incorporated into the K-5 units of study. These tasks challenge students to transfer their understanding of a science concept to the design of a solution and engage students in an iterative process of improvement.