Curriculum

Science/Literature/Social Studies/Visual Arts/Music
The Core Knowledge Sequence will serve as our primary curriculum for grades K-5. A distinguishing characteristic of this curriculum is a planned progression of specific knowledge in world history and geography, American history and geography, economics, civics/government, mathematics, science, language arts, visual arts and music. The Core Knowledge Sequence aligns with Common Core State Standards.
The Core Knowledge Sequence is founded upon E.D. Hirsch’s sense of cultural literacy. In his book, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know (1987), Hirsch argues that all American children need a body of “core knowledge” which will allow them to function as well-rounded citizens. Since many students were not receiving this instruction at home, it needs to be taught at school.
The Core Knowledge Sequence is described as knowledge-based schooling:
 Knowledge-based schooling puts the emphasis of early education on teaching and learning an enabling core of broadly shared knowledge—enabling because it builds strong foundations for later learning and opens doors to effective participation and mutual understanding in the wider society. Such knowledge is possessed by successful adults and taken for granted by literate writers and speakers. It’s the broad and diverse knowledge that makes responsible citizenship possible (coreknowledge.org).
 The Core Knowledge Sequence provides a grade-by-grade sequence of specific topics to be taught in grades K-5. The program leads students through a grade-appropriate and comprehensive view of science, literature, art, music and history. Fundamentally important topics of cultural literacy are repeated in a manner where the lower grade students can build a broad yet firm foundation of these topics while older students are able to achieve depth.
This approach brings consistency across grade levels, thus enabling teachers to base their lessons on what students have learned and will learn, and furthermore parents are able to anticipate what their children will learn in each grade. Though the Core Knowledge Foundation provides resources to support some of the sequence, teachers are encouraged to reach beyond and take ownership of their own lessons. The importance in this arrangement is that it strikes a balance between teacher support and teacher freedom.
The sciences will play a primary role in SGCA’s educational program. Science programs of The Core Knowledge Sequence focus on thematically linked science topics and the biographies of great scientists. The program allows for regular repetition regarding the most important topics, so that students are well versed in the fundamentals.

 

Math
The primary math curriculum will be Singapore Math. Singapore Math publishes several different textbook series. SGCA will use the following: Kindergarten – Essentials and Grades 1-5 – Primary Mathematics. Through our research, many classical charter schools have determined Singapore Math to be the best curriculum-provider for providing a course of study that lays a strong foundation in mathematical concepts. The curriculum is based on the math program used throughout the country of Singapore, and international math scores show very high academic achievement results. Singapore Math provides optional supplementary books for extra practice and differentiated learning. All supplementary materials are designed to work with any of the publisher’s series.
Singapore math is the curriculum used for K-6 in the small island country of Singapore. The curriculum has become popular due to Singapore’s consistent top ranking on an international assessment of student math achievement called the Trends in International Mathematics. The success of this curriculum on an international scale was ample justification for choosing it as the School’s math curriculum. Singapore’s international rank among 630 participating countries in the last three testing periods are as follows:
2015 – Singapore ranked #1
2011 – Singapore ranked #1
2007 – Singapore ranked #2
The many success stories regarding the implementation of Singapore Math in U.S. schools also weighed heavily in our decision to use the curriculum.

 

English/Language Arts
The specific curriculum being used is The Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking from the Riggs Institute. The Riggs Institute curriculum is a multi-sensory, brain-based method of instruction for teaching phonics, spelling, reading, handwriting and grammar. This updated method was begun by Dr. Samuel T. Orton, the earliest neuroscientist to research the function and performance of the brain in learning language skills. After Dr. Orton’s death, one of his students, Romalda Spalding, carried on his method of instruction. Those who are familiar with the Orton-Gillingham and Spalding Methods will quickly recognize similarities in the Riggs program. The publisher states that the curriculum aligns with NCLB, therefore we also believe that it aligns with LAFS. The following explanation was taken from the Riggs website (http://www.riggsinst.org/).
The Riggs Method incorporates the phonics-based spelling with rules system dating from the Webster-Oxford standardization of English spelling, but also provides realistic phonemic/graphemic correspondences from contemporary dictionaries. It is possible to teach correct spelling as well as regional dialects and varied pronunciations across the English-speaking world. This phonetic system and the rules of English were regularly taught in colleges of education and were incorporated in orthography student texts during the pre-“Dick and Jane” era (the 1920’s and before), in a time when children who were privileged to attend school almost all became highly literate. It simply requires a realistic alignment of worldwide speech patterns with the English spelling system (and our slight revision of the phonograms).
The Writing & Spelling Road to Reading & Thinking (subtitled A Neurolinguistic Approach to Cognitive Development and English Literacy, title of our SAU accredited training seminars) is now the most complete and up-to-date “Orton-based” language arts method available. We believe that it complies with the “No Child Left Behind (NCLB)” research-based requirements. It is self-training for many teachers and parents, and gives them the practical help they need to teach the following language arts “strands” and cognitive development:
  • “Explicit” Phonics with dictated Initial Letter Formation
  • The Alphabetic Principle
  • Phonemic & Graphemic Awareness
  • Correct Spelling w/47 Rules
  • Fluent Oral and Silent Reading
  • Oral and Print Comprehension
  • Vocabulary
  • Pronunciation & Speech
  • Creative & Organizational Composition
  • Grammar/Syntax/Punctuation/Capitalization
  • Analytical & Inferential Thinking
  • Auditory/Visual/Verbal/Motor Cognitive Development in:
    • Attention
    • Discrimination
    • Association
    • Memory