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GRADES 1–5

Lower School Curriculum

OVERVIEW

Developing Young Inquirers

The Primary Years Program (PYP) framework focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, at school and throughout their lives.

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A Transdisciplinary Approach

The Primary Years Program

The Primary Years Program combines a thorough exploration of core academic subjects with a focus on developing an understanding of learning in real-world contexts. Learning is oriented around six transdisciplinary themes focusing on issues and topics that cross subject areas. Teachers meet regularly to devise and reinforce connections between subject areas. This approach makes the subject matter more relevant and engaging to students, resulting in more effective learning. Lessons repeatedly ask students to consider alternate cultural perspectives, leading to a growing appreciation of diversity and global citizenship.

DEVELOPING YOUNG INQUIRERS

Program of Inquiry

Teachers collaborate to develop a program of inquiry oriented around six transdisciplinary themes which focus on issues and topics that cross subject areas. These themes help students gain an understanding of themselves and the world around them.

Who We Are

Where We Are in Place and Time

How We Express Ourselves

How the World Works

How We Organize Ourselves

Sharing the Planet

Transdisciplinary Learning

Curriculum Focus Areas

Mathematics

Literacy

World Languages

Science

Social Studies

Personal, Social & Physical Education

Visual Arts

Library

Music

Mathematics

Students become fluent in the language of mathematics, and they begin to view it as both a way of thinking and a tool for problem solving. We use the Singapore Math Primary Mathematics, U.S. Edition, as the foundation of our math instruction. Student learning progresses from the concrete to the symbolic, and then on to the abstract. As with all subject areas, mathematics is incorporated throughout our units of inquiry to reinforce the understanding that math is everywhere in the real world.

Literacy

The program of inquiry provides an authentic context for all aspects of language development and use. When language concepts like phonics are taught outside the program of inquiry, links are made to the learner profile, attitudes, central idea and key concepts of the unit. Students become skilled readers, writers, listeners and speakers. Our Reader’s Workshop/Writer’s Workshop model is based on Columbia University’s
Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

World Languages

Learning a second language is a key component of our curriculum. Students will develop the four core skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking in their choice of French, Mandarin, or Spanish. All of our students receive daily instruction in the world language of their choice. Our program approaches the study of world languages as a way to create and enhance intercultural connections. Students discover how their values, mores and behavior differ from those exhibited by people across the world. That awareness then fuels deeper respect, empathy and understanding.

Science

Our science program aims to enable children to acquire scientific skills and knowledge and to develop and use the scientific investigation skills to ask
questions and seek solutions. The science program engages students in the exploration of living things, Earth and space, materials and matter, forces and energy and the nature of science and its relationship to technology.

Social Studies

Students examine and think about human behavior realistically, objectively and with sensitivity. Social studies encourages curiosity and develops deep understanding of our rapidly changing world through the study of people in relation to their past, present, future, environment and society. Students explore how people think feel and act, as well as how they interact with others. Students learn about major elements of societies, communities, cultures, history, geography, civics and citizenship.

Personal, Social & Physical Education

Personal and Social Education (PSE) develops students’ understanding of communication, feelings, choices, health, and perspectives within society. Students develop strategies to resolve conflicts, recognize rights and responsibilities, and develop self-management strategies. Physical Education (PE) aims to promote a healthy, safe and active lifestyle among students. The physical education curriculum offers each child opportunities to gain
competence in gross and fine motor skills and apply these skills in the context of games and activities.

Visual Arts

The visual arts curriculum promotes the artistic talents, skills and knowledge of each student. Students explore art history, art appreciation, design, influence and style through personal, historical, social and cultural perspectives. Whenever appropriate, visual art is incorporated into the program of inquiry. Our visual arts curriculum is enhanced and extended using resources in Chicago and around the world.

Library

The library faculty promotes a love of reading and literature for all learners, inviting students to investigate areas of interest, explore concepts
and content in authentic ways, collaborate, create, present, model, reflect and provide feedback to other learners. The library, which is open to students throughout the school day, encourages them in their independent reading practice and supplies a wide range of media and content for exploration on an individual basis.

Music

In music, we build knowledge and skills with an emphasis on creating music using the voice. Students explore and utilize instruments, such as percussion, tambourines, bells, claves and rhythm sticks, while also engaging their bodies. Students are encouraged to appreciate music from other cultures and time periods while understanding the many purposes of music in everyday life. Throughout the year, students perform in concerts with varied repertoire, styles, accompaniment, and presentation. Students have the chance to participate in musical ensembles such as choir and musicals.

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Take A Glimpse Into A Day At GEMS

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It’s an honor being a GEMS parent and seeing my son experience the world face-to-face in his education.

Source: GEMS Parent

We put a lot of time and research into finding the best possible school environment for our daughter, and every day confirms that we made the right choice by choosing GEMS World Academy.

Source: GEMS Parent

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