All of our instructional staff take time during the summer to plan both vertically and horizontally so that learning is seamless from grade level to grade level and so that any opportunity for cross curricular learning is utilized. The courses offered all use various two instructor co-teaching techniques which support our students differing learning styles and allow us to maximize our time in the classroom.
Students participate in a rigorous academic curriculum which includes the following areas:
The Mathematics curriculum is aligned with National Common Core Standards. Class instruction is inquiry based with a focus on a conceptual understanding of topics in arithmetic, algebra and geometry. Students are required to justify their thinking and share mathematical ideas with classmates in small groups.
Numeracy and Number Sense This course is designed to give students exposure to the concepts behind the mathematical algorithms they have learned in lower elementary school. Mathematical manipulatives and technology are used to aid students while they strive to increase their number sense.
Translating Mathematics During 6th grade students experience a transition from elementary to middle school mathematics. Their studies focus on equivalence and translating between tables, graphs, English, equations and diagrams. Also, variables are introduced as students move towards topics in Algebra.
Pre-Algebra In this course students rely on prior work in number sense and equivalence to move towards a conceptual understanding of Pre-Algebra topics. Focused free writing is used to help students process the properties of numbers that are being addressed. Written and oral justifications for solutions are required as students prepare for what is required in high school level geometry proofs.
Algebra I At St. James school one of our goals is that all of our students will be prepared for a course in Algebra II at the beginning of 9th grade. During their final year at St. James school students will all be enrolled in our Algebra I course. Several of our students will require additional support outside of the classroom in order to complete this course in one academic year and maintain the accelerated pace of our mathematics scope and sequence.
Exploring Texts This class introduces students to many different types of text and thought processes to employ when thinking about these texts. Students study poems, plays, short stories and novels. In addition students apply grammar and language skill through many writing styles.
Understanding Texts Students will spend their sixth grade year at St. James learning how to decipher what an author is trying to say and why it is important in their lives as a reader. Students identify and explore themes in fiction and nonfiction texts to fully understand the purpose of reading. Students take what they have learned through reading and mix it with grammar and language skills to produce writing in both the creative and expository realms.
Analyzing Texts In 7th grade students are able to combine skills from fifth and sixth grade to analyze texts. Rather that just asking what the author is expressing, seventh graders explore answers to questions such as: Why is this important? How does this detail help the whole work? Why is this important to me and to the world? This analysis skill will aid students in analyzing poetry, drama, fiction and nonfiction. The students also apply their analysis to short film clips.
Synthesizing Texts 8th grade students work through their capstone year at St. James on using all of the skills learned in previous years to engage with complex texts through a critical lens. Students take close looks as society, cultures and other topics through poem, play and passages. To Kill a Mockingbird, Thank you Ma’m and The Diary of Anne Frank are a few texts used. Students write their own memoirs. In addition, technology is used to synthesize all four years of learning.
The visual arts program at St. James School is based on the National Art Education Standards. Students learn to use a variety of media; elements of art and principles of design; understand the relationships between history, culture and the visual arts. By 8th grade students will be able to analyze, describe and demonstrate how factors of time and place influence visual characteristics that give meaning and value to a work of art, and can reflect upon and assess the merits and characteristics of their work and the work of others. Throughout the art curriculum we are striving to constantly make both real world connections and connections to other areas of study.
Art in fifth grade is an introduction to a variety of media with a concentration on learning the elements of art and principles of design. Fifth Graders will be introduced to a broad range of topics in art history. Through this introduction they will be learning that art tells a story about the maker, the times and the culture.
Sixth graders will continue to study the elements of art and principles of design by applying them in project work. They will learn about the tales that art tells by examining the cultures and artwork of Ancient Egypt, Native Americans, Maori, Ancient China and Rome. To learn about the commercial influence of art the sixth graders will have a unit will have a unit on the power of advertising.
Seventh graders will look at the human form in a variety of artwork from ancient times to the present. Students will examine the connections between the arts, dance, visual arts and music. Students will examine art and social justice, learning how has art created awareness and change in cultures. Themes will include, street art, dancing figures, early fertility figures, Madonnas, mother and child, idealized figures, portraits and fashion illustration.
Focus will be on finding student’s own unique individual voice to create and tell their own story. Students will do in depth artist studies of both western and eastern cultures to learn how artists have found their individual voices and convened their messages to society. Students will continue to define “What is art?”using their own personal perspective.
The religious studies program seeks to develop the spiritual and moral faculties of students living in an increasingly globalized, technologically-driven, and diverse world. To do so, we provide a deep foundation in the Episcopal Church tradition, and meaningful engagement with diverse religious traditions from around the world. The religious studies program challenges students to think rigorously about religious beliefs, question stereotypes, interact respectfully with our neighbors, and think creatively about ethical problems in the world today. Religion classes also provide space for students to reflect upon their own spiritual life and to develop it as a source of creativity, morality, and strength. The religious studies program is an integral part of the school’s mission to “educate the whole child.”
Curriculum Overview: Over the course of their time at St. James School students will study in the following subject areas. We are currently in the process of developing a scope of study that will best facilitate each grade’s learning in these areas.
1. Philosophy of Religion.Students will learn critical thinking skills and put them to use in thinking about God, faith, others, and self.
2. Bible and Christian Belief. Students will learn to use the Bible as a tool for study and a book for faith. They will learn the story of the Bible itself and how to navigate ther ancient text. Taking a big picture approach to the Bible, students will learn the stories of Israel, Jesus, and the church, and be able to interpret key verses and stories in their literary context.
3. Ethics. Students will think critically about right and wrong and what it means to be a good person. They will listen to the voices of world religions and historical figures, and apply their learning to current events.
4. Comparative Religions. Students will grow in appreciation and understanding of the world’s rich religious diversity as they explore religions on their own terms and also discover similarities and differences between religions. Believing that religions are living, students will meet those who practice different religions as well as analyze stories, symbols, rituals, texts, and art.
5. Traditions of the Episcopal Church. Students will develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the prayers, worship, and history of the Episcopal Church.
6. Faith in Action. Students will put their learning at St. James into action by consciously develop spiritual and moral practices. They will take on a spiritual practice and reflect upon it. They will explore different ways to live out their committment to “social justice and positive change” and reflect upon their experiences.
Science courses are based on the understanding of the nature of science and how to experiment. Students use inquiry to discover the concepts put forth in each course. Standards are based on National Science Standards as well as Common Core Standards.
5 & 6
Students will be looking at our earth and studying the systems around it. We will look at our place in space and how our planet was created. We will then move into the layers of our Earth and how different forces and chemicals shape our landscape. The students will then see how water and life interact and help change our dynamic world.
7 & 8
Students will build on their knowledge of matter and explore how elements, compounds, and matter make up the world around us. Chemistry focuses on how we combine, recombine, and decompose substances in our world. Students will be expected to understand atomic theory, basic chemical reactions, and why the periodic table is a useful tool. Labs will include electron probabilities, half-life labs, basic chemical reactions, and the hydrolysis of water!
At St. James School we strive to provide a structured music education program that provides students with a foundation in musicianship, music literacy and music appreciation. In the course of study, we strive to nurture in every student a joy for making music, a curiosity for critical listening and musical analysis as well as an understanding of the culture surrounding the composition and performance of music. Decades of research demonstrate that, in addition to developing skills sets for patience, perseverance and time management, students who study music typically score higher in academic subjects, become more confident and take on leadership roles.
Our students experience musicianship through the practical application of voice and instrumental lessons and performance.
Vocally, students rehearse as a choir and have opportunities to perform in our weekly Wednesday Mass, Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols, Art and Music Showcase and other events. Students also have the opportunity to audition for the Saint Mark’s Church (Philadelphia) Choir of Boys and Girls where they receive additional choral training and professional performing opportunities. In the course of rehearsals and performances, students learn about healthy vocal production, choral blend, intonation and diction as well as acquire the ability to focus and sustain themselves to achieve short term and long term goals. Students sing great choral music that spans six centuries of composition, including music from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary periods. In addition to singing a broad-based classical repertoire, students learn a variety of spirituals and world music. mIn the course of their choral experience, students learn to sing in a variety of languages, including English, Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Swahili and Zulu.
A piano lab enables 8 students to receive a group piano lesson at the same time. In the course of their study, students who have demonstrated good practice habits and express an interest in further piano studies may receive private piano instruction. Students learn about proper keyboard technique, including hand position and fingering, good practice habits, reading notes in the treble and bass clef, and performing with expression (musicality). Regardless of whether a student decides to focus on voice or another instrument, piano study is valuable in facilitating the understanding of music theory and in practical applications like learning notes to a song or accompanying a soloist.
Tune Up Philly
St. James School partners with Tune Up Philly, Philadelphia Youth Orchestra’s Educational Outreach Program and provides our students with the opportunity to study strings, woodwinds or brass. One of many benefits of studying an orchestral instrument is the experience of rehearsing and performing in an instrumental ensemble. Tune Up Philly guides the student through practice techniques and performance.