K-5 Curriculum Overview

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - GRADES K-5

In a joyful Catholic learning environment, St. Mary’s – St. Alphonsus Regional Catholic School provides students with the ingredients for success: powerful minds, prayerful hearts and helpful hands. Our faculty knows and cares about each and every student, and our students know and care about each other. Our safe and nurturing atmosphere enables our students to excel intellectually and thrive spiritually. An outstanding academic program combined with the moral foundation creates the ideal learning environment.

Students in our elementary grades spend most of their day with their primary grade teacher. There, they will receive instruction in our core subjects: mathematics, science, language arts, religion, and social studies. They will also benefit from creative and innovative instruction in fine arts (music and art), technology, and physical education. Students in grades K-5 also attend weekly foreign language classes (Spanish and French) and visit the library once a week.

Our curriculum is aligned with the Common Core Learning Standards and the Diocese of Albany Catholic School standards. SMSA teachers have flexibility with their lesson plans, which enables them to provide differentiated instruction to meet the needs of each child. A student’s particular  learning style is determined by an annual assessment tool along with teacher observation. Sharing of student learning styles occurs between grades as a student progresses through the program. Data analysis from periodic testing assists our teachers to address any weak areas of the group or individual student and make needed adjustments to instruction.

Reading/English Language Arts (ELA)

SMSA’s 2017 New York State E.L.A. Test Results were 17% above State Public School Averages

SMSA’s primary goal is to develop proficiency in the skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The reading program incorporates a balanced literacy approach that includes the following components: read alouds, shared reading, guided reading, literature study, and independent reading. A wide range of literary genres and other materials are used, and instruction varies from full class to small groups to individualized work.

The literature study portion of our balanced literacy framework is devoted to rigorous texts and reading/writing instructional units of study, which align with the expectations of the Common Core Learning Standards.  At each grade level, students have reading units of study focusing on the close reading of fiction, non-fiction, and grade-specific genres (ranging from mythology to historical fiction to folklore) which will provide students with the strategies and skills necessary to annotate, interpret, and comprehend increasingly more complex literary and nonfiction readings.

In addition to the reading units, students in all grades will develop their writing skills as they learn the craft of writing for the purposes of exposition, narration, and persuasion. Students will be prepared to take the NY State Assessments. Regardless of grade level, genre, or purpose, the focus of writing instruction and practice will be the five basic dimensions to good writing:

  • Ability to convey meaning thoughtfully
  • Ability to develop ideas convincingly
  • Ability to organize logically
  • Ability to use language effectively
  • Ability to apply the conventions of standard written English

Mathematics at the Elementary Level

Elementary teachers use NY State Learning Standards at each grade level, K-6 as a baseline benchmark, but typically set higher expectations for competency and skills. The My Math NYseries, and the technological resources we have available, help support the implementation of the eight Standards of Mathematical Practice.Additionally, families have access to the IXL website, which includes leveled practice and review. Parents who are not certain how to access this website should contact their child’s teacher. The multitude of resources assist with differentiation and student engagement, learning to deeper understanding and greater levels of mastery.

Kindergarten

Topics include: Numbers 1-10; two dimensional and three-dimensional shapes; Comparison of Length, Weight, Capacity, and Numbers to 10; Number Pairs; Addition and Subtraction to 10;Numbers 10-20 and Counting to 100; and Analyzing, Comparing, and Composing Shapes.

First Grade

Topics include: Sums and Differences to 10; Introduction to Place Value Through Addition and Subtraction Within 20; Ordering and Comparing Length Measurements as Numbers;Place Value; Comparison, Addition and Subtraction to 40s; Identifying, Composing, and Partitioning Shapes;Place Value; Comparison; and Addition and Subtraction to 100s.

Second Grade

Topics include: Sums and Differences to 20;Addition and Subtraction of Length Units; Place Value, Counting, and Comparing of Numbers to 1,000; Addition and Subtraction within 200 with Word Problems to 100;Addition and Subtraction Within 1000 with Word problems to 100; Foundations of Multiplication and Division; Problem Solving with Length, Money, and Data; Time, Shapes, and Fractions as Equal Parts of Shapes.

Third Grade

Properties of Multiplication and Division and Problem Solving with Units of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 10; Place Value and Problem Solving with Units of Measure;Multiplication and Division with Units of 0, 1, 6–9, and Multiples of 10; Multiplication and Area; Fractions as Numbers on the Number Line and Collecting and Displaying Data; and Geometry and Measurement Word Problems.

Fourth Grade

Place Value, Rounding, and Algorithms for Addition and Subtraction; Unit Conversions and Problem Solving with Metric Measurement; Multi-Digit Multiplication and Division; Angle Measure and Plane Figures; Fraction Equivalence, Ordering, and Operations; Decimal Fractions; and Exploring Multiplication.

Fifth Grade

Place Value and Decimal Fractions; Multi-Digit Whole Number and Decimal Fraction Operations; Addition and Subtraction of Fractions;Multiplication and Division of Fractions and Decimal Fractions;Addition and Multiplication with Volume and Area; and Problem Solving with the Coordinate Plane. 

Religion

As important as academics are at SMSA, they represent only part of what constitutes an SMSA education.  We educate the whole child - academic, emotional, social and spiritual - a unique and successful formula- which sets us apart from other schools.

 As an academic community, we strive to identify, encourage, and develop our student’s talents.  As a Christian community, we go one step further, teaching them that those talents are gifts from God to be shared with the world for the good of others, reminding them that the greatest among us is the one who serves the least.

Students at SMSA learn they are unique, beloved children of a compassionate God. This belief shapes all that takes place at SMSA and produces the welcoming, joyful and accepting atmosphere found here.

All students participate in regular classroom instruction in the Catholic Faith as expressed by the Church’s Magisterium. The goal it to help our Catholic students grow in that faith, and provide students of other faiths with an understanding of the Church’s teachings and traditions.  About one third of our students are from a non-Catholic faith tradition.

SMSA attends Mass weekly (Friday) and all parents are welcome to join us.  Reconciliation is offered for Grades 3-8 twice yearly (Advent and Lent).  We pray daily, both as a school family and in our classrooms, and students have the opportunity to visit the Adoration chapel once weekly with their class. 

All students participate in Community service, a natural step of putting the gospel message into action.  Food pantry items are collected weekly for St. Mary’s Food Pantry, and classes participate in various other activities such as clothing drives and visits to local nursing homes. We have a proud history of generosity responding to suffering in our own community and in response to national or global disasters.

Opportunities for self-reflection, worship and prayer:

  • Each day: All School Prayer at morning assembly and at the beginning of each class.
  • Once a Week:
    • Mass at St. Mary’s Church
    • Eucharistic Adoration in the school chapel.
  • During the seasons of Advent and Lent Sacrament of Reconciliation is offered.

We believe that we are called to serve our brothers and sisters, especially the poor and vulnerable. Throughout the year, all SMSA students participate in projects designed to alleviate suffering and respond to the gospel message of service to others, including but not limited to:

  • Weekly non-perishable food donations to support St. Mary’s Food Pantry
  • Creation of valentines for local shut-ins
  • Winter and spring clothing drives that benefit local service agencies

Elementary Science

At the elementary level, SMSA believes that students need opportunities for discovery-based learning and opportunities to process their discoveries through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.  In addition, they need opportunities to develop vocabulary, skills of observation, and strategies for collecting and organizing their data and ideas.  They need to be able to synthesize their learning and apply these skills to novel situations.

SMSA uses the Science: A Closer Look series for grades 3-5. This research- based program has engaging hands-on activities for students as well as high-quality supporting materials, including leveled reading materials, thought-provoking writing prompts, consistent vocabulary and definitions, in addition to outstanding online materials for teachers and students.  Within the curriculum, there is tremendous vertical alignment of concepts, vocabulary, procedures, activities, and assessments. Common, rigorous, learning standards with engaging, high quality instruction aid teachers in assisting students to develop a solid base of scientific skills and understandings that can be applied to solve real world problems.  Students’ science proficiency is measured by the New York State Science Assessment,given in Grade 4.

Kindergarten

Topic include: Motion and position; Living Things, Non-living Things; Earth and Sky; The Nature of Science; and How to Solve Problems.

First Grade

Topics include: Energy; Plants and Animals; Patterns in Space; The Nature of Science and The Design Process.

Second Grade

Topics include: Matter; Plants and Animals; Earth’s Materials; The Nature of Science; and Technology and Tools.

Third Grade

Topics include: The Scientific Method; A Look at Living Things; Things Grow and Change; Living Things in Ecosystems; Changes in Ecosystems; Earth Changes’ Earth’s Resources; Changes in the Weather; Planets, Moon, Stars; Observing Matter; Changes in Matter; Forces and Motion; and Forms and Energy.

Fourth Grade

Topics include: Energy and Motion; Human Uses of Energy; Waves and Information; Earth’s Features; Earth’s Natural Hazards; The History of the Planet Earth; Structures and Functions; and Human Body Systems.

Fifth Grade

Topics include: Scientific Method; Cells and Kingdoms; Parents and Offspring; Interactions in Ecosystems; Ecosystems in Biomes; Our Dynamic Earth; Protecting Earth’s Resources; Weather Patterns; The Universe; Comparing Kinds of Matter; Physical and Chemical Changes; Using Forces; and Using Energy

Social Studies at the Elementary Level

At the elementary level, not only does the SMSA focus on key ideas and conceptual understandings of social studies content, but also works to develop cross- disciplinary skills in critical reading, writing, and research, as well as essential skills and habits of mind used by social scientists and historians. Social Studies at the Elementary Level is in line with NY State and Diocesan Standards.

Foreign Language PreK 3s – Grade 5

Students are introduced to the French and Spanish languages once a week. They begin to learn the alphabet, numbers, colors, and pronouns as well as the culture and history of French and Spanish speaking countries. This sets the foundation for the middle school foreign language course in French or Spanish.  Fifth Grade students serve as language ambassadors to our Pre-K students, visiting the Noah’s Ark classrooms once a month to share their budding language skills.

Library/Technology/STREAM (Science, Technology,  Religion, Engineering,Art and Math) PreK 3’s – Grade 8

During the library portion of this class, students engage in research activities and learn how to access, analyze, and synthesize information from various media sources. Students learn an appreciation for literature, and are permitted to select books for research projects as well as independent reading. They discover various types of genre and conduct author studies.

During the technology and STREAM portion of this class students engage in computer and hands-on, problem-based learning. Students apply math, science, engineering, technology, religion, art and their knowledge of tools and materials to solve problems. Students learn to identify problems, develop solutions, and test solutions to maximize results.

Art K-8

The art program at SMSA focuses on developing an appreciation for, and an understanding of, the various art disciplines. We encourage students to explore the art forms as an opportunity for personal expression. Students will be introduced to a variety of hands-on activities and experiences that develop perceptual, creative, and motor skills.

Art class also provides a time for problem solving and exploration with a wide range of art materials and tools, including digital media. Students will be introduced to the artwork of the great masters and many cultures. Often, projects are integrated with grade level curricula. Caring for classroom supplies, respecting the work of others, achieving independence, and learning to communicate through art are stressed.

Music PreK 3s – Grade 8

Children are exposed to a variety of activities designed to broaden musical experiences and develop musical skills. Listening activities help develop the child’s perception of music. Musical response is developed through movement, rhythmic activities, singing and playing instruments. The child is also encouraged to create and organize sounds into musical patterns.

All students in Grades 5-8 participate in chorus. Students make up the Choir during Friday Mass. The experience of rehearsing and performing before an audience is a valuable means of developing a true appreciation of music performance, as well as reinforcing habits of cooperation and self-discipline.

Students in Grades 4-8 may elect to participate in band. This is a service provided by Mrs. Facklam, an independent band teacher, for an additional fee.Every student will receive a weekly lesson and ensemble rehearsal.  All band students are members of the Intermediate Band (Grades 4 and 5) or the Middle School Band (Grades 6 - 8). As the performance level increases, the students rehearse together as a band and perform during Mass, concerts in school, and various other venues in the community.

Advanced opportunities are available to students who excel in music. Students may participate in the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Solo and Ensemble Festivals, or other performance opportunities. Students are encouraged to participate fully in the music program, and work hard to achieve a high level of skill and enjoyment.

Physical Education PreK 3’s – Grade 8

Students participate in various health and wellness activities. Instruction emphasizes exercise is a key aspect to physical health and mental well-being. The children in each grade explore units of study in team sports, such as soccer, hockey, volleyball, badminton, and basket-ball, as well as track, circuit exercises and general fitness.

EXTRA CURRICULAR OPPORTUNITIES

Each day after school, the hallways of SMSA are filled with the chatter of children heading off to one of many available after-school activities.

Athletics:

  • Basketball (6th-8th, Boys and Girls)
  • Soccer (6th-8th, Co-Ed)
  • Track (6th-8th, Co-Ed)
  • Sports “clinics” for younger grades
  • Ski Club (Grades 4 and up at West Mountain Ski Center)

Students who are interested in playing baseball or softball play on the SMSA/Saratoga Central merged team as part of the NYSPHSAA League. SMSA is also a member of the Friends and Neighbors League. Parents interested in coaching additional sports should contact the principal.

Afterschool Enrichment:

Throughout the year, and in addition to the differentiated  classroom instruction provided during the day, SMSA offers fun and educational opportunities for students at various grade levels.  These classes are taught by SMSA teachers, staff, and/or parent volunteers. Student favorites are:

  • Clay Basics
  • Cooking
  • Study Skills
  • Building with Legos
  • American Girls Learn About American History
  • Scouting
  • Battle of the Books (Grades 3-6)
  • Chess Club
  • Robotics
  • Mad Science

Parents learn about after school enrichment opportunities via the Kerry Blue newsletter and/or flyers.

In addition to these after-school activities, a number of enrichment activities are incorporated into the school day, particularly in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades.

These offerings include:

  • Middle School Band (Grades 6-8)
  • Junior Band (Grades 4-5)
  • Annual  Musical (School community)
  • Spring Musical (Students only)
  • Yearbook
  • Leadership Club