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Overview of Curricular Areas

 

Arts

The arts curriculum encourages the development of creative skills, the ability to see and think through relationships of color, perspective, and aesthetics, and the capacity for individual expression through various artistic media, music, and drama. We offer experiences in visual art, drama, music, home arts, and integrated computer technology throughout grades K-8.

 

General music and art are taught in all District 67 schools. Students in grades K - 4 have music and art at scheduled weekly times throughout the school year. Students in grades 5 and 6 have music, art, drama, and integrated computer technology weekly on a rotating basis. Students in grades 7 and 8 take the following Encore courses: Visual Art, Speech and Drama, Home Arts, Digital Media, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math); the Encore classes meet daily and run on a 7-week rotation.

 

Group instruction in instrumental music begins in grade four with string instruments and grade five with band instruments. Students receive weekly groups lessons and weekly full ensemble rehearsals in grades 4 and 5. Students in grades 6 - 8 receive weekly group lessons and daily ensemble rehearsals. We wend a detailed letter regarding the band and orchestra program to all parents in the spring. Chorus is offered as an after school self-funded program in grades 3 and 4. In grades 5 - 8, chorus is offered during the school day.

 

There are many opportunities for additional experiences in fine arts before and after school through school-sponsored activities and through self-funded programs such as Brainstormers. These opportunities may include jazz band, show choir, pops orchestra, drama, and various music ensembles.

 

Information Literacy Program

The Information Literacy Program is integrated into the curriculum by providing access to information and ideas that will assist students in achieving mastery of the curriculum. District 67 offers a comprehensive school library program that enhances the delivery of the Information Literacy Program.

 

Students in grades K - 4 receive instruction in the effective use of information tools. Students develop the foundational skills for understanding how to effectively access, utilize, and manipulate information. The information literacy skills directly relate to content area curriculum and to classroom assignments. Students in grades 5 - 8 utilize and refine their information literacy skills, as well as further develop the skills of evaluating, synthesizing, and presenting information. Grade 5 - 8 information literacy instruction occurs through collaborative lessons taught by the media specialist and/or the classroom teacher.

 

Language Arts

The descriptions that follow (from www.corestandards.org) offer a portrait of students who master the Common Core State Standards. As students advance through the grades and master the standards in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language, they are able to exhibit with increasing fullness and regularity these capacities of the literate individual.

 

They demonstrate independence.

 

Students can, without significant scaffolding, comprehend and evaluate complex texts across a range of types and disciplines, and they can construct effective arguments and convey intricate or multifaceted information. Likewise, students are able independently to discern a speaker’s key points, request clarification, and ask relevant questions. They build on others’ ideas, articulate their own ideas, and confirm they have been understood. Without prompting, they demonstrate command of standard English and acquire and use a wide-ranging vocabulary. More broadly, they become self-directed learners, effectively seeking out and using resources to assist them, including teachers, peers, and print and digital reference materials.

 

They build strong content knowledge.

 

Students establish a base of knowledge across a wide range of subject matter by engaging with works of quality and substance. They become proficient in new areas through research and study. They read purposefully and listen attentively to gain both general knowledge and discipline-specific expertise. They refine and share their knowledge through writing and speaking.

 

They respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline.

 

Students adapt their communication in relation to audience, task, purpose, and discipline. They set and adjust purpose for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language use as warranted by the task. They appreciate nuances, such as how the composition of an audience should affect tone when speaking and how the connotations of words affect meaning. They also know that different disciplines call for different types of evidence (e.g., documentary evidence in history, experimental evidence in science).

 

They comprehend as well as critique.

 

Students are engaged and open-minded—but discerning—readers and listeners. They work diligently to understand precisely what an author or speaker is saying, but they also question an author’s or speaker’s assumptions and premises and assess the veracity of claims and the soundness of reasoning.

 

They value evidence.

 

Students cite specific evidence when offering an oral or written interpretation of a text. They use relevant evidence when supporting their own points in writing and speaking, making their reasoning clear to the reader or listener, and they constructively evaluate others’ use of evidence.

 

They use technology and digital media strategically and capably.

 

Students employ technology thoughtfully to enhance their reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language use. They tailor their searches online to acquire useful information efficiently, and they integrate what they learn using technology with what they learn offline. They are familiar with the strengths and limitations of various technological tools and mediums and can select and use those best suited to their communication goals.

 

They come to understand other perspectives and cultures.

 

Students appreciate that the twenty-first-century classroom and workplace are settings in which people from often widely divergent cultures and who represent diverse experiences and perspectives must learn and work together. Students actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures through reading and listening, and they are able to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds. They evaluate other points of view critically and constructively. Through reading great classic and contemporary works of literature representative of a variety of periods, cultures, and worldviews, students can vicariously inhabit worlds and have experiences much different than their own.

 

Mathematics

The Common Core State Standards - Standards for Mathematical Practice describe habits of mind that mathematics educators at all levels should seek to develop in their students. These practices rest on important “processes and proficiencies” with longstanding importance in mathematics education. Below are the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice; for more information on each one, visit www.corestandards.org.

 

  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  4. Model with mathematics.
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
  6. Attend to precision.
  7. Look for and make use of structure.
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

 

At each grade level, students practice skills and deepen conceptual understanding in each of the five mathematical domains:

 

  1. Counting and Cardinality
  2. Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  3. Number and Operations in Base Ten
  4. Measurement and Data
  5. Geometry

 

Science

In science education, focus and coherence must be a priority. Historically, science education was taught as a set of disjointed and isolated facts. Lake Forest School District 67 utilizes the Framework for K – 12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as the foundation for its science curriculum. This framework provides a more coherent progression aimed at overall scientific literacy with instruction focused on a smaller set of ideas and an eye on what the student should have already learned and what they will learn at the next level. For more information, visit www.nextgenscience.org.

 

Social, Emotional, and Character Development

The Emotional Wellness Initiative operates under the core belief that all adults who come into contact with our students have a profound impact on their development as individuals. When schools effectively promote positive character development, they actually see strong academic benefits. We know successes in life and personal wellness are linked to a set of relational skills that truly can be modeled, practiced, and encouraged each day. Lake Forest School District 67 prioritizes the skills of working in teams, effective listening and speaking, positive decision-making, and calm conflict resolution. With a true spirit of collaboration between school staff, parents, and the community, we can guide our students toward reaching their unique potentials. The district has a robust plan to prevent bullying, as well as specific intervention procedures for when it occurs. Comprehensive, research based prevention programs are used district-wide to promote pro-social behaviors.

 

Social Studies

Social Studies is the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities which promotes civic awareness and competence. It honors diversity while simultaneously developing the cohesion necessary to sustain and nurture a democratic society in an interdependent world. Social studies provides opportunities to interact with others while acquiring the knowledge and skills to solve problems and to make informed and reasoned decisions for one’s self as well as for the public good.

 

Eight themes for social studies have been identified based upon the standards established by the National Council for Social Studies. These include:

  1. Culture
  2. Global Connections
  3. Production, Distribution and Consumption
  4. Individuals, Groups and Institutions
  5. People, Places and the Environment
  6. Time, Continuity and Change
  7. Power, Authority and Governance
  8. Civic Institutions and Practices

 

In conjunction with these themes, social studies will include the development of skills such as expository, persuasive and analytical writing, map interpretation, the reading of charts and graphs, critical thinking, decision-making, and citizenship. These skills can be found in the Common Core State Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies. For more information, visit www.corestandards.org.

 

Technology/21st Century Learning

In District 67, we believe that technology is a powerful tool for teaching and learning, essential in our effort to prepare students for success in the 21st century. We intend its use to be integrated into and supportive of every curriculum at all levels of instruction.

 

Our goal is to develop in our students, through the use of technology, problem solving skills, effective communications skills, the ability to engage in in-depth individual academic exploration, and an understanding of how to effectively access, evaluate, and utilize information.

 

In order to provide students access to their work from any classroom, all computers are networked and students are encouraged to save their work on network servers. Networking also provides the means for information and communications to flow between classrooms, between buildings, and between District 67 and the world.

 

Technology Literacy

Technology literacy is the process of teaching about the computer and other technologies to develop within students the technology skills needed to effectively make use of technology in other curricular areas.

 

Students in grades K - 4 receive instruction in the effective use of information tools. Information literacy is taught collaboratively between the Information Literacy Instructor and the classroom teacher. The information technology skills are integrated with the content area curriculum and classroom assignments.

 

In grades 3 and 4, each child is issued a NEO 2, a small laptop computer to develop keyboarding and computation skills. In addition, these laptops provide a tool for formative assessment and 1:1 use of a word processing tool; our goal is to improve writing quality through research-based programs.

 

Middle school students each have a netbook or a Chromebook computer to use throughout their middle school experience. Following our district’s 21st Century initiative, teachers are working together to transform classroom learning to be less teacher-centered and more student-centered. They are redesigning instructional practices to increase opportunities for engagement, global awareness, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, and communication to a variety of audiences through a variety of means. More information on our 21st Century initiative can be found on the district website.

 

Wellness

Local Wellness Policy (additional information, including exceptions, can be found here)

Lake Forest School District 67 is committed to providing a learning environment that supports and promotes wellness, good nutrition, an active lifestyle, and recognizes the positive relationship between good nutrition, physical activity, and the capacity of students to develop and learn.

 

The entire school environment, including classroom education, physical education, and meal service shall be aligned with healthy school goals to positively influence students’ beliefs and habits and promote health and wellness, good nutrition, and regular physical activity. In addition, school staff shall be encouraged to model healthy eating and physical activity as a valuable part of daily life.

 

Wellness Program

The Wellness Program is a fitness-based program for first through eighth grade students. The curriculum concentrates on increasing student’s comprehension and application of fitness and movement concepts. Fitness instruction will teach the students how to apply these concepts so that they improve their personal fitness level as well as their quality of life now and in the future.

 

The physical education portion of the program at the middle school will consist of heart rate monitored activities, including circuit training, strength training, heart rate training, and other innovative methods to help students improve and maintain their individual fitness level. Students will also be using a personal fitness log to gain knowledge, set personal fitness goals, and monitor progress. During a typical week, fitness-based activities will be the focus of instruction two to three days a week. The remaining days will focus on skill development and modified games related to improving fitness and team-building/challenge initiatives.

 

The program also provides a high level of activity, which encourages problem solving and creativity. The goal is to provide diverse opportunities for individual success, while encouraging all students to work to their maximum potential through encouragement and positive reinforcement. The program promotes the enjoyment of being active while incorporating cooperation, respect, and the acceptance of differing levels of ability and leadership.

 

Health education incorporates skills, concepts, and ideas that enhance the total well-being of the student. The curriculum includes a balance of the emotional, social, intellectual, and physical aspects of human growth and development. This balanced approach will help to enhance the quality of life for students. By including Health education at all levels, students receive an early start to recognizing the importance of a healthy lifestyle. It will also provide the building blocks for the development of children into capable adults who will make wise and healthy choices throughout their lifetime.

 

Topics in the Health curriculum include fitness, nutrition, safety education, emotional health, drug/alcohol awareness, human development, and disease prevention.

 

World Languages

The study of world language and culture provides students with the communication tools necessary for success in the pluralistic societies of the United States and abroad. World Language instruction focuses on the 5 Cs:

  • Communication – conversing in the target language and understanding thoughts and ideas spoken by people of other cultures.
  • Culture – comparing and contrasting their own culture with another culture.
  • Connections – applying information and skills acquired in world language class to their studies in other classes.
  • Comparisons – developing a more profound understanding of their own language by studying a world language.
  • Communities – exploring uses of world language outside of the class.

 

Students begin world language instruction in second grade with Latin twice per week. The origins of words and the study of derivatives deepen the understanding of English and provide a basis for the study of other romance languages. In third grade, students explore the language and cultures of French, Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish. Students in grades 4 – 8 concentrate on the applicable skills in their selected language: reading, writing, listening, speaking, culture, decoding, and translating.

 

Mandarin Immersion

An optional Mandarin Immersion program is available to incoming kindergarten students. The program is housed at Cherokee Elementary School, but free bussing from Sheridan and Everett make it available to students across the district. Two classes of full-day kindergartners receive a half-day of instruction spoken in English and the other half-day spoken in Mandarin (50/50 immersion). Currently, there are approximately 158 students enrolled in grades K, 1, 2, and 3 immersion classes. Students in the program will continue to receive 50/50 Mandarin immersion through fourth grade. In the middle school, students will have the option to continue with the advanced study of Mandarin.

 

The Mandarin Immersion follows sound research on how children best acquire new languages. More information about the program may be found on the district website under “Mandarin Immersion.” To ensure the program’s success, the district has secured partnerships with Michigan State University, neighboring school districts with similar Mandarin Immersion programs, and a sister elementary school in Chongqing, China.