The Core Knowledge curriculum is a research-based program that is utilized in hundreds of schools across the country and is founded on the premise that a grade-by-grade core of common learning is necessary to ensure a sound and complete elementary education. The Core Knowledge curriculum was developed by Dr. E. D. Hirsch, Jr., and is based on a large body of research in cognitive psychology as well as a careful examination of several of the world's fairest and most effective school systems. Dr. Hirsch has argued that, for the sake of academic excellence, greater fairness and higher literacy, early schooling should provide a solid, specific and shared core curriculum in order to help children establish strong foundations of knowledge.
The Core Knowledge curriculum thoroughly covers History, World Civilizations and Geography. As students progress through these subjects, they are able to understand the shared values of a civilized society, follow the threads throughout world history that provide a context for the founding of the United States of America, and trace the emergence of the principles on which our nation was founded. Additionally, these studies provide a historical basis for the establishment of the modern world.
An effective Language Arts program is the cornerstone of every student's education. Without the basic skills of reading, writing and communicating, students cannot fully participate in the educational process. Therefore, at American Academy, we focus intensely on early literacy to ensure that every child has an opportunity to learn and grow.
For our primary reading program, we use Spalding Writing Road to Reading. Spalding integrated all elements of the language including spelling, writing, and reading. We may also use aspects of other programs for certain children, as necessary to ensure that every child achieves this critical skill. Finally, we use curriculum differentiation by way of flexible groups in order to accommodate the skill level of every child.
American Academy integrates several programs into the Language Arts curriculum, including Shurley Grammar, Step Up to Writing, 6+1 Trait Writing, and Hake Grammar. Shurley Grammar provides a strong grammar base, gives step-by-step instructions, connects grammar and writing, and is fun and exciting for children to learn in early elementary. As students graduate to intermediate elementary levels, Hake Grammar is employed to further develop grammar skills and integrate vocabulary practice. Step Up to Writing, developed here in Colorado by Maureen Auman, is a very systematic and structured approach to the process of writing. 6+1 Trait Writing deepens understanding through the seven traits of writing and link to reading.
The Saxon Math program is implemented for mathematics at American Academy. The scope and sequence of Saxon Math is a perfect complement to Core Knowledge. Instead of relying on rote memorization, Saxon Math is taught incrementally, each lesson building on previous lessons, and results in a deep and lasting understanding of the subject. Studies have shown the effectiveness of cumulative learning through distributed instruction. American Academy also implements flexible ability grouping based on mastery of skills in conjunction with the Saxon Math program.
The Core Knowledge curriculum covers scientific concepts that build from grade to grade. Children at American Academy experience science in a hands-on manner as well as through study and applincation of the processes used by scientists. Through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Program and STEM Discovery Week, students are also exposed to the applications and implications of scientific concepts learned in the Core Knowledge curriculum.
Technology is integrated into everyday learning at American Academy with an eye toward the development of 21st Century Learners. It is used as a learning enabling tool, an output tool, an assessment tool, and a subject for study. Research-based and proven software programs are integrated in the regular curriculum. American Academy implements ISTE's Educational Technology Standards for Students. Students are taught to become very familiar with computers, through explicit instruction on keyboarding, basic navigation and important applications such as word processing, spreadsheet, email and presentation software. Being able to use a computer as a tool to communicate and articulate is an essential skill in our world, and American Academy ensures this skill becomes as much of a habit as walking and talking. These skills are aligned and integrated with the Core Knowledge curriculum. For example, while learning about Ancient Greece, second graders are asked to research a specific ruin and develop a Power Point presentation on their findings to be shared with the class.
Technology also streamlines our school operations and communications. Parents are able to access their student’s grades and progress in real-time via a secure website. Students download their homework or collaborate on a project over the web. Teachers have immediate access to assessment data so they can adapt instruction accordingly.
At American Academy, Specials programming includes four content areas that work collaboratively with each other and with the Core Knowledge curriculum delivered in the general classroom. Those four content areas include Art, Music, Technology, and Physical Education. In every content area, instructors focus on development of student skill, knowledge, and character, working diligently to uncover areas of strength in each student and providing opportunities for growth and leadership in those areas as much as possible.
In elementary school, students experience art activities and learn visual arts techniques that develop fine motor skills, like painting, drawing, clay sculpting, etc. In middle school, students diversify into graphic arts, utilizing our the computers in our graphics labs. Middle school students continue development and learning in Core Knowledge curriculum while making connections to art through technology as well as the mediums presented at elementary grade levels.
In each elementary school music room, a computer/keyboard (piano) station is available for every student to use. Students begin learning about music through movement, voice, and on the keyboard station. They use technology that allows voice and instruments to communicate with each other and give the student immediate feedback. As students develop their musical skills, they can diversify into other instruments including the recorder, ukulele, band and orchestral instruments, as well as vocal training in solo and ensemble settings.
Students begin by learning basic computer skills, including typing, as early as first grade. As students demonstrate proficiency in industry standard software (American Academy is a Microsoft-based school), they also begin to enjoy projects in the media arts, including web design, coding, and game development. Curriculum and assessment materials are aligned with ISTE, state, and national standards for technology education.
In physical education, students are challenged to develop large
motor skills while learning specific physical competencies and spatial awareness through game play and physical practice. Instructors encourage sportsmanship and team-building, and help students’ track their progress and health an online student fitness tracking program called Fitness Gram.
In addition, American Academy instructors offer extracurricular activities for boys and girls of all ages, and the middle school Rebels Athletics program includes soccer, basketball, cross country, and volleyball.
Please visit our STEM web page
for more information about STEM education at American Academy.
Please visit our Performing Arts web pages for more information about Performing Arts opportunities at American Academy.