Highlights of Our Lady of the Lake School Curriculum
The purpose of the religion program is to teach the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Each child’s natural desire for God is nourished through daily prayer and liturgical celebrations including the Eucharist and Reconciliation. The children are encouraged to respond to God’s call by living and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ through practicing the spirit of the Beatitudes and the Works of Mercy. A variety of materials are used to enhance instruction while Christian principles permeate the curriculum. Tenets of our shared faith are explained so that children may better appreciate that which they are expected to live and, one day, model.
The reading curriculum focuses on developing comprehension and critical thinking skills across all subject areas. Grade levels K-2 concentrate on the development of phonological awareness and decoding skills to foster the ability to read independently. All levels focus on increasing the ability to determine main ideas, predict outcomes, and draw inferences from a variety of texts. The development of critical thinking skills is nurtured via analyzing various types of texts. A suggested summer reading program and a reading incentive program help encourage children to read throughout the year.
The language arts curriculum encompasses grammar, spelling, writing, and oral presentation. The development of written communication skills focuses on the successful integration of spelling, grammar, and the structural techniques of writing. Children employ daily journals using prompts to develop their writing skills in various genres. Reading and analyzing nonfiction and fiction texts is crucial in the composition of essays and writing assignments in the upper grades. Emphasis is placed on etymology as well. Children are instructed in word origins as well as how to identify prefixes/roots/suffixes. An appreciation for the contribution of Latin and Greek to the development of English is stressed in the upper grades.
The math curriculum in grades K-8 includes the use of problem-solving, logic, skill-based strategies, manipulatives, and technology via the use of calculators, computers, and Smart Boards. Stress on the fundamentals is a priority across the grades. Literature based books and poems are used to introduce new math concepts. For those who qualify pre-algebra is offered to students in grade 7 and algebra in grade 8.
The social studies program emphasizes the study of past human events and their impact on students as present day Christians. The goal of the program is to recognize global interdependence, promote environmental awareness, teach respect for life, diverse lifestyles and cultures. The rights and responsibilities of government and good citizenship are also emphasized. Our democratic government is studied and compared to other governmental systems. Historical facts and concepts are used to illustrate the development of the human race. Geography is included in the curriculum. The social studies curriculum is coordinated across grade levels with other academic areas.
Physical, earth, and life sciences are explored through experiments, observation, research, videos, computers, guest speakers, and field trips. Critical thinking and problem solving skills are emphasized through the use of the scientific method, discovery activities, technology, and traditional methods, relating science to everyday life. The science lab is available for use by all grades. The science program is coordinated with other academic areas. The interdisciplinary strands of math and language arts are integrated into a holistic approach across the curriculum.
All students in grades K-8 receive art instruction once a week during the school year. Grades K-4 receive instruction in the fundamentals of art such as line, form, color, texture, and the incorporation of three-dimensional art forms. Students in grades 5-8 explore the diverse forms of art such as sculpture in various media. The study of art history consists of researching various artists and their techniques.
Liturgical and secular vocal music is offered for grades PreK-8. This music includes contemporary, folk, and traditional hymns and multicultural songs. Before a song is taught the text is analyzed regarding historical background, vocabulary, and literal and symbolic meanings. Basic rhythm skills are taught, practiced, and performed with the use of various percussion instruments. Singing in harmony is introduced in the classroom and performed in church and concert settings. Opportunities are also available for individual and small group vocal and instrumental ensembles to accompany the school at song. With the exception of learning liturgical music, the Pre-K through grade 4 music curriculum stresses singing on pitch, quality of vocal tone, movement, and a basic use of percussion instruments to accompany songs.
Physical Education is available 2 times a week for grades Pre-K through grade 8. The program emphasizes fitness, wellness, and nutrition for all grade levels. It includes basic movements and muscle development skills, as well as warm-up and physical activities, lead up games, and traditional games of sport. Health and sport related fitness components are also incorporated in physical education classes. Fair play, good sportsmanship, respect, tolerance, and cooperation are emphasized throughout the program.
Grades 1-8 meet once a week for computer science classes for varying lengths of time. Academic software, word processing, and keyboarding skills are emphasized in grades 1-4. Word processing, spreadsheets, database, keyboarding, presentation software, and Internet skills are the focus of grades 5-8. Internet access is available in the computer labs, grades K-8 classrooms, along with access to desktop and laptop computers. Computers are integrated in all subject areas and Smart Boards have been added for use across the curriculum.
All students in grades K-8 receive Spanish instruction. Grades K-4 learn Spanish through vocabulary-based activities such as games, songs, puzzles, flash cards, and bilingual storybooks. In grades 5-8, students advance their skills by using Spanish workbooks and software that focuses on grammar and vocabulary exercises. Students also reinforce vocabulary and learn about Spanish speaking countries around the world by taking virtual tours online. Activities include a fashion show, making menus and travel brochures, planning celebrations, and making maps.