DETAILED PHILOSOPHY

Throughout their academic years at The Cooper School, students are immersed in nine core discipline areas: mathematics, language arts, science, social studies, social and emotional learning, world language, visual and dramatic arts, music and physical education. Our curriculum is informed by best practices in research and influenced by our location and student body. Teachers of all disciplines collaborate in order to integrate our rigorous curriculum. In addition, interdisciplinary teaching and daily arts integration, offers children opportunities to learn through all the ways in which they are able.Benchmarks for each core discipline are established through standards set by The Common Core, The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies, The Next Generation Science Standards, CASEL, The National Standards for Foreign Language Education and the National Standards for Arts Education. Instruction in each discipline is individualized and based on student achievement, ability and interest.

 

At The Cooper School, we have organized our curriculum programs into three structures. Early Elementary refers to Kindergarten and First Grade. Middle Elementary refers to Second Grade and Third Grade. Lastly, Fourth and Fifth Grade make up Upper Elementary.

LANGUAGE ARTS

EARLY ELEMENTARY [+]

Reading and Writing are strongly intertwined during the early years of literacy. Frequent and engaging read alouds focus on specific comprehension skills, and vocabulary acquisition. These emerging readers wrestle with the alphabetic code, phonics, and syntax in Reading Workshop as they build the foundation of a lifelong love of reading. Students learn to decode, comprehend, and compare and contrast as they read fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Small group reading allows for concentration in learning strategies and skills in genre and author studies, while partner and individual reading time allows for extended individualized instruction and personal exploration in reading. Teachers assess the growth of each student’s language competency formally three times a year, and informally on a daily basis to ensure the work is challenging and that the student is making adequate progress.

MIDDLE ELEMENTARY [+]

Whole class, small group and individual work continue as students mature in their reading ability and grapple with complex texts in the Middle Elementary years. Students begin to refine their abilities in writing about their reading, and in reading discussion. Students negotiate meaning with increasing independence. Complex comprehension strategies are learned and mastered as students read across a wide range of genre. Students consider large themes across multiple texts, compare and contrast characters, examine character motivations and complex plots, as well as make connections across expository texts. Students begin to support their ideas with specific evidence in the text.

UPPER ELEMENTARY [+]

In the Upper Elementary grades students begin to work in self-selected reading groups, as well as continue with independent and small group work. Discussion skills are honed as students participate in book clubs and negotiate meaning in increasingly complex text. Students examine figurative language, author’s purpose and point of view, as well as tone and mood in complex novels that often involve multiple plot lines and complicated themes. Students make connections across themes and annotate a variety of informational texts. Students support and defend their ideas with text evidence. By the end of their elementary years, students have developed a rich reading life and are confident and highly capable readers and discussants. Reading high quality, developmentally appropriate literature helps the youngest students become able writers in Writing Workshop.

Students engage in the process of writing as they write about topics that are meaningful to them in a variety of genres. Students explore conventions of grammar, spelling, sentence structure and story structure as they craft narratives, non- fiction stories and poems. Writing is everywhere in these early classrooms. Students write and draw to explore, expand and explain their thinking, as well as to craft purposeful pieces. Students begin to see themselves as authors, as they share their written work with the their school and home community. In the Middle Elementary years, students grow in their writing range and competence. They begin to understand the intrinsic value of the process of writing as a means of developing and refining their thoughts. They grow to firmly understand the various purposes of writing and continue to write in a variety of genre and forms. These developing writers move toward extended revisions and more independent editing. Upper Elementary writers continue to write in a wide variety of genres, as they continue to grow in their understanding of craft and in their abilities to create clear and cohesive opinion, informational and narrative pieces. These young authors develop flexibility and expertise as they spend more time refining their writing during extended revisions.

MATHEMATICS

EARLY ELEMENTARY [+]

The Cooper School students develop both a procedural and conceptual understanding of Math. In the early grades, whole group, small group and individual instruction provides ample time for these early mathematicians to develop strong mathematical thinking. Math concepts are presented within a real world context and with the use of concrete objects, allowing children to develop strong number sense and problem solving skills. Children begin to learn how to articulate their mathematical thinking orally and in writing. Teachers guide students to develop intuitive mathematical reasoning through exploration of math materials, mathematical games and direct instruction.

MIDDLE ELEMENTARY [+]

Middle Elementary students delve deeper into logical reasoning and mathematical operations. Students continue to connect mathematical ideas to real life experiences and they develop analytical reasoning skills and discover multiple ways to arrive at correct solutions. Students identify and access mathematical tools independently, and become more adept at the articulation of their mathematical thinking. Students competently and creatively experiment with math materials and engage in lively math discussions in the classroom. Direct instruction continues as whole group, small group and individual. Mathematical thinking is extended through enrichment and supported through readiness activities each day, and students are assessed daily.

UPPER ELEMENTARY [+]

Upper Elementary students work toward grade appropriate mastery in numbers and operations, geometry, algebra, measurement and data analysis. They continue to develop as strong mathematical thinkers, displaying self-efficacy in problem solving. These strong mathematicians engage in meta cognition by monitoring and reflecting on their mathematical processes. Teachers continue to guide students through whole class, small group and individual instructions. Students are assessed daily in order to ensure they are appropriately challenged. Students engage in a variety of enrichment math projects, through the use of discovery, inquiry, and technology. Students graduate from The Cooper School with a strong math skill set, a deep understanding of numerical relation ships, and a willingness to think critically and apply math in the real world.

SCIENCE

EARLY ELEMENTARY [+]

Students will engage in the exploration of the four disciplinary core ideas in science; life sciences, earth sciences, physical sciences, and the scientific process and scientific applications. In each grade, the use of technology, engineering and art is integrated within the science curriculum. In the Early Elementary years, students are introduced to scientific patterns, such as cycles. They eagerly explore and answer questions relevant to the world around them as they engage in explorations of mammals, fish, reptiles, insects, weather, trees, seeds, biomes, solids and liquids, and the water cycle.

MIDDLE ELEMENTARY [+]

Science continues to be inquiry based in the Middle Elementary years. Students continue to study the four disciplinary core ideas, as well as use technology to connect their work at The Cooper School to the work of student scientists around the globe. Students compare and collect data, begin writing lab reports detailing their use of the scientific process, and explore science tools of investigation. Students collaborate on projects that are meaningful and purposeful to them, all while charting growth and change, structure and function, and cause and effect. Students are expected to apply a scientific concept to content knowledge.

UPPER ELEMENTARY [+]

In the Upper Elementary years, the four disciplinary core ideas continue to be examined. Students are expected to reach performance standards based on understanding and application. Students independently engage in scientific practices, and design experiments using the scientific method to present during the science fair. Our older students delve deeper into engineering design methods and model construction. In addition, our outdoor education program supports the integration of science learning in our backyard biome and local community. Students graduate with the skills, practices and concepts necessary to demonstrate developmentally appropriate proficiency as they gather, describe, interpret and use data about the world. Our students develop a passion for environmental stewardship and conservation through our environmental science strand. Students learn through hands on investigation of our backyard biome, compost and garden area. Students in all grade levels seek practical solutions to environmental problems as they learn how to integrate and apply background knowledge. Fifth graders culminate their environmental studies unit by a weeklong trip to Green River Preserve in Cedar Mountain, NC.

SOCIAL STUDIES

EARLY ELEMENTARY [+]

Our Social Studies program puts the world in the hand of students as they explore artifacts, maps, models and cultures of the world. Each grade level studies geography and world cultures. Students discover the integration between humans and the biological, physical, economic, and social world. The Early Elementary years are devoted to community and culture. Young students learn to locate themselves in time and space. They explore the interaction of peoples and their natural biome. They examine the concepts of shelter, food, transportation, culture and clothing across time and place.

MIDDLE ELEMENTARY [+]

The Middle Elementary years continue to exploration of culture and geography. The curriculum begins to transform to the exploration of government and history. Social Studies activities include current events, literature study, research, note taking, presentations and study trips. Students continue to connect their studies to the world around them.

UPPER ELEMENTARY [+]

The Upper Elementary years begin to study cultures in conflict as they look at the political overlay on the natural biomes of the world. Students become adept at investigating the world locally and globally through the lens offered by history, economics, politics and sociology as they continue to explore the complexities of culture.

SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING

EARLY ELEMENTARY [+]

Our devotion to the whole child means that we are deeply committed to social emotional learning. Social and Emotional learning involves the direct instruction and scaffolding of the processes through which children acquire the skills necessary to understand and regulate emotions, obtain goals, establish relationships, manage conflict and resolution, and make responsible decisions. Research demonstrates that these skills promote and enhance students’ connection to school, positive behavior and academic achievement. In addition, stress and poor regulation of impulses interferes with attention and memory. At The Cooper School, we believe the formation and regulation of positive relationships is crucial to learning. Learning is a naturally a social and interactive process. It involves collaboration with one’s teachers, peers, and family. The opportunity to learn and master social and emotional skills impacts both preparation for learning and the ability to benefit from learning opportunities. All children are taught through modeling and coaching the skills of curiosity, gratitude, mindfulness, creativity, flexibility, perseverance, accuracy and grit. In addition, students receive direct instruction and practice around conflict resolution strategies. The Peace Wheel is a conflict resolution tool that empowers children to solve social conflict independently. Students are taught to initiate mediation, articulate wants and needs, develop active listening skills, collaborate on solutions and move forward with peaceful resolutions.

MIDDLE ELEMENTARY [+]

Our devotion to the whole child means that we are deeply committed to social emotional learning. Social and Emotional learning involves the direct instruction and scaffolding of the processes through which children acquire the skills necessary to understand and regulate emotions, obtain goals, establish relationships, manage conflict and resolution, and make responsible decisions. Research demonstrates that these skills promote and enhance students’ connection to school, positive behavior and academic achievement. In addition, stress and poor regulation of impulses interferes with attention and memory. At The Cooper School, we believe the formation and regulation of positive relationships is crucial to learning. Learning is a naturally a social and interactive process. It involves collaboration with one’s teachers, peers, and family. The opportunity to learn and master social and emotional skills impacts both preparation for learning and the ability to benefit from learning opportunities. All children are taught through modeling and coaching the skills of curiosity, gratitude, mindfulness, creativity, flexibility, perseverance, accuracy and grit. In addition, students receive direct instruction and practice around conflict resolution strategies. The Peace Wheel is a conflict resolution tool that empowers children to solve social conflict independently. Students are taught to initiate mediation, articulate wants and needs, develop active listening skills, collaborate on solutions and move forward with peaceful resolutions.

UPPER ELEMENTARY [+]

Our devotion to the whole child means that we are deeply committed to social emotional learning. Social and Emotional learning involves the direct instruction and scaffolding of the processes through which children acquire the skills necessary to understand and regulate emotions, obtain goals, establish relationships, manage conflict and resolution, and make responsible decisions. Research demonstrates that these skills promote and enhance students’ connection to school, positive behavior and academic achievement. In addition, stress and poor regulation of impulses interferes with attention and memory. At The Cooper School, we believe the formation and regulation of positive relationships is crucial to learning. Learning is a naturally a social and interactive process. It involves collaboration with one’s teachers, peers, and family. The opportunity to learn and master social and emotional skills impacts both preparation for learning and the ability to benefit from learning opportunities. All children are taught through modeling and coaching the skills of curiosity, gratitude, mindfulness, creativity, flexibility, perseverance, accuracy and grit. In addition, students receive direct instruction and practice around conflict resolution strategies. The Peace Wheel is a conflict resolution tool that empowers children to solve social conflict independently. Students are taught to initiate mediation, articulate wants and needs, develop active listening skills, collaborate on solutions and move forward with peaceful resolutions.

WORLD LANGUAGE

EARLY ELEMENTARY [+]

Students at The Cooper School rotate through French, Mandarin and Spanish. Beginning in Fourth Grade, students are able to choose one of these three languages to study all year. Children in the early grades are introduced to conversational Spanish, French and Mandarin through song, dramatic role play and simple texts. In addition, students are introduced to cultural practices in countries that speak French, Mandarin and Spanish. Students in upper grades begin to read, write and converse in their chosen language. All students engage in language studies as part of their social studies curriculum. During these studies, students consider the variations in written language past and present of various peoples.

MIDDLE ELEMENTARY [+]

Students at The Cooper School rotate through French, Mandarin and Spanish. Beginning in Fourth Grade, students are able to choose one of these three languages to study all year. Children in the early grades are introduced to conversational Spanish, French and Mandarin through song, dramatic role play and simple texts. In addition, students are introduced to cultural practices in countries that speak French, Mandarin and Spanish. Students in upper grades begin to read, write and converse in their chosen language. All students engage in language studies as part of their social studies curriculum. During these studies, students consider the variations in written language past and present of various peoples.

UPPER ELEMENTARY [+]

Students at The Cooper School rotate through French, Mandarin and Spanish. Beginning in Fourth Grade, students are able to choose one of these three languages to study all year. Children in the early grades are introduced to conversational Spanish, French and Mandarin through song, dramatic role play and simple texts. In addition, students are introduced to cultural practices in countries that speak French, Mandarin and Spanish. Students in upper grades begin to read, write and converse in their chosen language. All students engage in language studies as part of their social studies curriculum. During these studies, students consider the variations in written language past and present of various peoples.

VISUAL AND DRAMATIC ARTS

EARLY ELEMENTARY [+]

In early grades art lessons are based on line, color, and shape. Older students will add to these elements and also learn about the design principles of art. Students will engage in art making and other activities to learn about famous artists, cultures, and art history. Often lessons will relate to what students are studying in their academic classes. Students will learn that making art is a valued way of expressing their feelings or their reaction to the beauty around them. Within the classroom, students employ the dramatic arts to learn about content across the curriculum. Students choreograph mini drams that incorporate science, social studies, and literature. In addition, Charleston Stage joins us for a drama intensive each Fall.

MIDDLE ELEMENTARY [+]

In early grades art lessons are based on line, color, and shape. Older students will add to these elements and also learn about the design principles of art. Students will engage in art making and other activities to learn about famous artists, cultures, and art history. Often lessons will relate to what students are studying in their academic classes. Students will learn that making art is a valued way of expressing their feelings or their reaction to the beauty around them. Within the classroom, students employ the dramatic arts to learn about content across the curriculum. Students choreograph mini drams that incorporate science, social studies, and literature. In addition, Charleston Stage joins us for a drama intensive each Fall.

UPPER ELEMENTARY [+]

In early grades art lessons are based on line, color, and shape. Older students will add to these elements and also learn about the design principles of art. Students will engage in art making and other activities to learn about famous artists, cultures, and art history. Often lessons will relate to what students are studying in their academic classes. Students will learn that making art is a valued way of expressing their feelings or their reaction to the beauty around them. Within the classroom, students employ the dramatic arts to learn about content across the curriculum. Students choreograph mini drams that incorporate science, social studies, and literature. In addition, Charleston Stage joins us for a drama intensive each Fall.

MUSIC

EARLY ELEMENTARY [+]

In the Early Elementary grades, musical concepts such as echo, sequence, retrograde, solo, duet, improvisation, variation and sequence are taught using movement and composition. Singing, rhythm and movement help students understand how music and dance combine. These exercises build an understanding of music, rhythm and form.

MIDDLE ELEMENTARY [+]

In Middle Elementary, students will continue with singing instruction and basic musical concepts. In addition they will become music historians and begin to learn the instruments, composers and music that make up traditional western music. They will explore musical forms such as concerto, solo, cantata, symphony and opera. Students will learn the instruments in the western classical orchestra and become familiar with composers such as Machaut, Dowland, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy and Stavinsky. Some of the repertoire used during the class will be “Peter and the Wolf”, Beethoven’s 6th symphony and Mozart’s variations on Twinkle Twinkle. Additonally, Grade 3 students explore the art of radio variety show. The students will write, produce and perform their own 30 min. variety show complete with music, drama, ads and interviews.

UPPER ELEMENTARY [+]

The Upper Elementary grades explore different aspects of music making. The first unit is with stringed instruments and learning the ukulele. The second unit is exploring all aspects of percussion and ensemble playing. In this class students are reading music and learning hand, mallet and stick techniques. Finally, we turn to composition and solo playing. Grade 4 students also learn to be music ethnomusicologists and explore music from cultures around the world. Grade 5 students combine their writing workshop with music in a special added unit in songwriting. Students form songs using original lyrics and melody. With their experience they also make decisions on harmony and arrangements. Some of these student songs can be heard on Cooper School CDs and in concert with the Whole School and Indigo Choirs. The Cooper School choir performs and records several times a year. This choir practices once a week. The Indigo choir is an advanced choir, that focuses on the techniques of choral singing and music from around the world.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

EARLY ELEMENTARY [+]

Sportsmanship, leadership, fitness concepts, and healthy attitudes toward fitness are woven together in competitive sports training and psychomotor skill development. Movement classes incorporate balance, strength and skill as students expand their physical competence in their weekly Movement class. Yoga nurtures the mind, body and breath one day a week. Our yoga curriculum grows with the child and is true to yoga. Assessment tools are used to measure the child’s physical progress and cognitive understanding of yoga. Each grade also participates in a movement project each year. For grades K and 1 this is swimming, Grades 2 and 3 go rock climbing, and Grades 4 and 5 take kayaking and stand up paddle boarding lessons. In addition, students engage in outdoor free play twice daily.

MIDDLE ELEMENTARY [+]

Sportsmanship, leadership, fitness concepts, and healthy attitudes toward fitness are woven together in competitive sports training and psychomotor skill development. Movement classes incorporate balance, strength and skill as students expand their physical competence in their weekly Movement class. Yoga nurtures the mind, body and breath one day a week. Our yoga curriculum grows with the child and is true to yoga. Assessment tools are used to measure the child’s physical progress and cognitive understanding of yoga. Each grade also participates in a movement project each year. For grades K and 1 this is swimming, Grades 2 and 3 go rock climbing, and Grades 4 and 5 take kayaking and stand up paddle boarding lessons. In addition, students engage in outdoor free play twice daily.

UPPER ELEMENTARY [+]

Sportsmanship, leadership, fitness concepts, and healthy attitudes toward fitness are woven together in competitive sports training and psychomotor skill development. Movement classes incorporate balance, strength and skill as students expand their physical competence in their weekly Movement class. Yoga nurtures the mind, body and breath one day a week. Our yoga curriculum grows with the child and is true to yoga. Assessment tools are used to measure the child’s physical progress and cognitive understanding of yoga. Each grade also participates in a movement project each year. For grades K and 1 this is swimming, Grades 2 and 3 go rock climbing, and Grades 4 and 5 take kayaking and stand up paddle boarding lessons. In addition, students engage in outdoor free play twice daily.

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