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Curriculum Overview

Curriculum Overview for Solomon Schechter Day School of Las Vegas. What Your Fourth Grader Will Know When They Finish The Year.

Jewish Studies
We are a school proudly aligned with the Conservative Movement. We adopt the guiding principles of our Movement for our school's curriculum and program. As such we provide learning and experiences that encourage: development of a personal relationship with God; centrality of Mitzvah and Torah Study; valuing and cherishing Jewish plurality and diversity, both within our school and the larger world around us; and identity with Jews in Israel and the world.
As a Conservative Day School, we teach, experience, and celebrate mitzvah. All of the mitzvot are both taught and observed throughout our school program. Much of the Mitzvah curriculum is implicit in all phases of our school program. This applies both to mitzvot we traditionally call “ritual” (mitzvot bein Adam l’Makom) and those we sometimes refer to as “ethical” (mitzvot bein Adam l’chavero). For example, all children give tzedakah each week. So too, Kashrut is strictly observed throughout the school. At the same time, we teach respect for teachers through an emphasis on proper behavior. Children observe the mitzvah of kavod ha Brit through recognition of the differences among our students and teachers. While we recognize the wide range of observances among our families, the school remains committed to the observance of mitzvot for our children and families.

Among the mitzvot learned in Fourth Grade are:
  • • Lashon HaRa – The proper and respectful use of words
  • • Shabbat – Candles
  • • Kiddush & Challah
  • • Bikur Cholim – Visiting the Sick
  • • Food – Kashrut
  • • Brachot
  • • Tzedakah
  • • Tefillah
Tefillah is seen as the central way we express our thoughts, needs, and wishes as Jewish people. Tefillah teaches us the central categories of Jewish values and helps us communicate with God. Because the school sees Hebrew as the language of the Jewish people, tefillah is always done in Hebrew. Boys and girls participate equally in all aspects of the school‟s curriculum and Jewish experiences. We teach tefillah to help children learn both the matbayah tefillah (the way the tefillot are recited in the synagogue services) and the ideas and aspirations the tefillah encompasses. Tefillah is a sequential curriculum. Each year builds on the tefillot learned in the previous school years. By the end of their learning in the Elementary School, the children are capable of leading almost all of the daily and Shabbat tefillot. By the end of the Fourth Grade, the expectation is that our students will be familiar with the following tefillot: Modeh Ani; Mah Tovu; Yigdal; Reyshet Chochmah; Birchot haShachar; Baruch Sheamar; Ashrei; Haleluyah; Yishtabach; Barcho...Yotzer Or...Or Chadash; Shema v’ahavtah and v’yomer; Amidah – Avot, Gevurot, and Kedusha Brachot; Sim Shalom; Oseh Shalom; Torah Tzeva Lano Moshe; Birchot haTorah; V’zot HaTorah; Aleino; Ayn Keloheino; AdonOlam; Kiddush Shel Shabbat; Kabbalat Shabbat; Tefilot Mincha – Ashrei, Amidah, Aleino.
Through the weekly and monthly life of the school, the children see Shabbat and the Jewish holidays as special moments for Jewish celebration. Connections are made between the mitzvot of the Torah, our Jewish life in school, and our lives as Jews at home and in the wider world. The Holiday curriculum is integrated with the Torah curriculum which will introduce students to rabbinic commentary, here with the commentaries of Chazal on such holidays as Yom Kippur, Purim and Shavuot.
The goal of Torah study is to fulfill the mitzvah of Talmud Torah. We study the Torah as the central unifying story of our people's understanding of the world and our relationship with God. By studying the Torah, we come to identify with our Jewish history and fulfill God's covenant with the Jewish people. Finally, we begin to appreciate God's commands and wishes for us as responsible and committed Jewish people. In Fourth Grade, the Torah track of Tal AM focuses on Sefer Shemot (the Book of Exodus) and further develops reading and comprehension competencies in Chumash, focusing on Torah commentary. The Torah workbooks are structured around the themes of Exodus from Egypt, Revelation on Mt. Sinai, and Building the Tabernacle. As was started in Third Grade, the children use a Hebrew text for their Torah Study. As the children’s ability with Hebrew grows, they are able to focus on the differences between Biblical and Modern Hebrew. In Fourth Grade, the children begin to study the second section of the Tanach, the Nevi’im (Prophets). The children are exposed to the Book of Yehoshua, the beginning of the conquest of the Land of Israel following the chronological close of the Torah. Finally, children in Fourth Grade are introduced to the concept of rabbinic commentary (Oral Law) with a selection from Pirkei Avot.
The Fourth Grade Tal AM curriculum is a spiraled continuation of Third Grade both in skills and content. It also introduces new learning to acquire skills such as:
  • • Brainstorming skills.
  • • Improving retention of new vocabulary and language skills.
  • • Creative and constructive peer learning.
  • • Outline a story, plot, or essay.
By the end of the year, children should be able to:
  • • Answer all questions using complete sentences.
  • • Understand short stories and write summaries.
  • • Write short stories.
  • • Apply rules of grammar appropriate to Fourth Grade.
  • • Assimilate new vocabulary words including correct verb formation in both past and present tense.
  • • Follow all class directions.
All children in the school learn about the State of Israel. Focusing primarily on modern-day Israel, the children express daily our love of Medinat Yisrael by singing Hatikvah at the start of the school day. The children learn about the Flag of Israel. Through our annual celebration of Yom Ha'Atzmaut (Israel Independence Day), the children learn about different aspects of modern day life in Israel, ranging from Jerusalem to the Army, from the map of Israel to the joy of Israel's existence. Finally, the children regularly engage in projects fostering their connection to the State of Israel and our responsibility to Israeli Jews. These projects range from letter writing to tzedakah projects.
Language Arts
By the end of the school year, students should:
  • • Choose reading as a way to enjoy free time at school and home.
  • • Read and understand at least 25 books.
  • • Read and understand at least four books about one subject, or by the same writer, or in one genre of literature.
  • • Show evidence of understanding their reading in both writing and classroom discussion.
  • • Relate new ideas and information in books to previous knowledge and personal experience.
  • • Read familiar books aloud with accuracy and expression, using strategies for self-correction and to figure out unfamiliar words.
  • • Read and understand chapter books while keeping a personal log to record thoughts and ideas about those books.
  • • Read silently and independently.
  • • Use computer software to support reading.
  • • Use reference books to obtain information and learn new words daily.
  • • Discuss books daily with the teacher, classmate or in groups. Be able to write about, discuss, and summarize the plot, setting, character, and main ideas in books they have read.
  • • Compare and contrast characters, setting, and plot from one book to another, as well as with short stories and plays.
  • • Employ self-questioning techniques to improve reading comprehension.
  • • Expand their growing vocabulary.
Using the literature read during the school year, students should be able to:
  • • Identify similar themes across different books.
  • • Think about the author’s word choices and decisions about content.
  • • Compare and contrast different types of literature.
  • • Compare and contrast character traits among characters within a story as well as between stories.
  • • Develop ideas (for example, draw conclusions and make predictions) about events, characters and settings.
  • • Produce written work in at least one genre.
  • • Be able to select books based on personal needs and interests.
Student writing should go through a process of planning, drafting, revising, and editing before it is considered a finished product. By the end of the school year, students are required to produce four types of writing:
  • • Informational Writing, such as a Science or Social Studies report. This writing should include appropriate facts and details.
  • • A response to literature, such as a book review. This writing should show an understanding of the book’s story, setting, and characters.
  • • A story, fictional or autobiographical. This writing should establish interesting characters and situations, and should include details and descriptions.
  • • A narrative procedure explaining how to do something. This writing should lay out clear steps that are easy to follow.
All finished writing should have a beginning, a middle, and an end; should use basic punctuation; and should spell most words correctly for a published piece.

By the end of the year, students should:
  • • Write daily on topics they choose in all subject areas.
  • • Include new and more sophisticated vocabulary in their writing.
  • • Have a well-developed sense of what makes a good piece of writing and strategies for making work better and more interesting by utilizing a writing rubric and displaying good writing traits.
  • • Have opportunities to share finished work with an audience.
  • • Begin to include details that establish a mood and tone in their writing.
  • • Include different types of characters in short stories, stories and plays developed more fully with dialogue and description.
  • • Use author’s study to incorporate language and ideas into their own writing.
  • • Use classroom resources to help with writing and editing.
By the end of the school year, students should demonstrate correct use of:
  • • Grammar, including nouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs, and be able to identify subject and predicate.
  • • Paragraph structure, including rules of dividing a piece into paragraphs.
  • • Punctuation such as commas, periods, exclamation points, and question marks.
  • • Spelling strategies for Fourth Grade content-area vocabulary.
By the end of the year, the student should:
  • • Listen and speak daily in whole class and small group discussions as well as in one-to-one conversations with the teacher.
  • • Share ideas, facts, observations and opinions with classmates and teachers.
  • • Demonstrate the difference between “fact” and “opinion”.
  • • Present a short, oral report.
  • • Collect information and identify important ideas.
  • • Ask questions to further understanding, and repeat what they have heard in their own words.
  • • Respond to questions thoughtfully, using details and examples.
  • • Take turns speaking, and respond to each other’s questions and comments.
  • • Express opinions and back them up with reasons.
  • • Students will prepare and deliver an individual presentation in which they:
  • • Present information so that their audience understands and is interested.
  • • Organize what they will say using notes or other memory aids.
  • • Make decisions on what to say based on how they want the audience to respond, not just according to what information they can find.
  • • Students will make informed judgments about television, radio, and film productions.
By the end of the school year, students should:
  • • Add, subtract, multiply, and divide whole numbers, with and without calculators.
  • • Read and write whole numbers to hundred millions.
  • • Learn about special numbers (primes, factors, multiples, square numbers).
  • • Use concrete and abstract models of simple fractions.
  • • Use single decimal numbers and percents.
  • • Demonstrate rounding and estimation skills.
  • • Use recall, mental math, and pencil and paper to get solutions.
  • • Use short and long division.
By the end of the school year, students should:
  • • Identify and describe geometric figures (triangles, squares, rectangles).
  • • Read and draw simple maps using coordinates.
  • • Use basic ways of estimating and measuring the size of figures and objects in the real world.
  • • Select units of measure (pounds, inches, minutes, metric system) for estimating and determining quantities such as weight, area, and time.
  • • Use pictures and diagrams to show perimeter, area, volume, and circumference.
  • • Use pictures and diagrams to model lines of symmetry.
By the end of the school year, students should:
  • • Recognize, describe, extend, and create repeating patterns.
  • • Recognize, describe, extend, and create growing patterns.
  • • Use letters, boxes, or other symbols to stand for any number or object.
  • • Use beginning concept of "variable."
By the end of the school year, students should:
  • • Collect and organize information.
  • • Gather data about an entire group by sampling group members.
  • • Find the average, median, mode, and range of a set of numbers.
  • • Find combinations and arrangements of a group of objects.
  • • Predict results and find out why some results are more likely than others, less likely than others, or equally likely as others.
  • • Show data in tables, charts, and graphs.
By the end of the school year, students should:
  • • Create, analyze, and solve word problems.
  • • Give basic statements of problem situations.
  • • Identify missing information in a story problem.
  • • Explain how solutions to problems can be applied to other school subjects and in real-world situations.
  • • Develop formal and informal mathematics vocabularies.
  • • Clarify problems by discussing them with classmates.
  • • Use estimation, number relationships and mathematical checks to justify answers.
  • • Break a problem into parts to make it easier to solve.
  • • Understanding that a group of things may be researched by studying just a few of them.
By the end of the school year, students should:
  • • Continue to investigate and describe variables of shape, material, and mass (ability of metal to conduct electricity).
  • • Demonstrate an understanding of properties of non-living things.
  • • Develop a deeper understanding of electrical circuits, including parallel and series circuits.
  • • Observe and investigate how light, heat, electrical, sound, and mechanical energy (machines/gears) affect objects as they interact with them.
By the end of the school year, students should:
  • • Observe, explain, and give examples of how plants and animals depend upon each other and how these characteristics help them survive in different environments (adaptation/interdependence).
  • • Demonstrate an understanding of the life cycles of organisms.
  • • Investigate how adaptations, interdependence, and environment help certain organisms survive.
By the end of the school year, students should:
  • • Understand how the Earth, the Moon, and other objects in the sky move in regular patterns.
  • • Understand how the Earth's physical characteristics change over time due to natural processes (erosion).
  • • Observe the effects of energy on matter.
By the end of the school year, students should:
  • • Work independently and cooperatively to solve problems, using a variety of inquiry skills.
  • • Ask appropriate questions that can be investigated by performing experiments.
  • • Communicate their experiences and observations in a variety of ways.
By the end of the school year, students should:
  • • Continue to use technology and tools such as magnifiers, thermometers, balances (scale), and computers.
  • • Continue to use standard and non-standard units of measurement for length, width, weight, and volume, and record data.
  • • Continue to use data tables and graphs to record, read, and understand scientific data/results.
Social Studies
By the end of the school year, students should understand:
  • • Native American Indians were the first inhabitants: The Paiute, Washo, Shoshone and Anasazi were the early inhabitants of our state.
  • • Important accomplishments and contributions of Native American Indians who lived in our community and state.
  • • Major explorers of Nevada and the impacts of exploration (social/cultural, economic, political, and geographic).
  • • The slave trade and slavery in the colonies.
  • • Different types of daily activities including social/cultural, political, economic, scientific/technological, or religious.
  • • Cultural similarities and differences, including folklore, ideas, and other cultural contributions that helped shape our community, local region, and state.
  • • Colonial governments.
  • • Causes for revolution: social, political, economic.
  • • Important accomplishments of individuals and groups living in our community and region.
  • • Leaders of the Revolution.
  • • Effects of the Revolutionary War.
  • • The values, practices, and traditions that unite all Americans.
By the end of the school year, students should understand:
  • • Location of Nevada.
  • • Ways that Pioneers depended on and modified their physical environments.
  • • Geographic influences of industrialization and expansion (e.g., natural resources, location); the interactions between economic and geographic factors.
  • • Continue working with maps, globes, and atlases to gather data/information.
By the end of the school year, students should understand:
  • • Rural to urban to suburban migration.
  • • Ways of making a living in our local region and state.
  • • Economic interdependence (e.g., resource use; from farm to market).
  • • The labor movement and child labor.
Students will learn about communities that reflect the diversity of the world’s people and cultures. They will study western and non- western examples from a variety of geographic areas. Students will also learn about historic chronology, by use of time lines.
By the end of the school year, students should understand that:
  • • Foundations for a new government and the ideals of American democracy as expressed in the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitutions of the State of Nevada and the United States of America.
  • • The importance of the Bill of Rights.
  • • Individuals and groups who helped to strengthen democracy in the United States.
  • • The roots of American culture, how it developed from many different traditions, and the ways many people from a variety of groups and backgrounds played a role in creating it.
  • • The fundamental values of American democracy, including an understanding of the following concepts: individual rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness; the public or common good; justice; equality of opportunity; diversity; truth; and patriotism.
  • • The fundamental values and principles of American democracy are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, Preamble to the United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, Pledge of Allegiance, speeches, songs, and stories.
  • • The basic purposes of government in the United States are to protect the rights of individuals and to promote the common good.
  • • An introduction to the probable consequences of the absence of government.
  • • The structure and function of the branches of government, including executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
  • • The meaning of key terms and concepts related to government, including democracy, power, and citizenship.
Special Studies
The Music program combines singing, clapping, and body movement with the playing of both pitched and unpitched instruments to teach beat competence, vocal development, music notation, form, rhythm, melody, harmony, timbre, dynamics, and conducting. In addition, separate educational units are presented in the areas of the science of sound, musical instruments and their respective families, unconventional musical instruments, the recorder, and famous composers. The vocal repertoire, approximately 80% of which is Judaic, is often used as a tool in teaching the elements of music.
Each week, every child in SSDS has art for approximately 40 minutes. The children learn basic methods for drawing and painting and are given opportunities to explore new media. Curriculum objectives include understanding color, composition and tone and value relationships. Historically important artists and art movements will be discussed to enhance understanding of subject matter. Children should be able to discuss their artwork and the material presented in class both in the classroom and at home.
Weekly, each student visits the library that is stocked with a variety of age appropriate reading material that they are able to check out and bring home with them. Books are returned weekly and when returned a new book may be checked out in it's place. The library helpds children facilitate a love of reading while instilling care and community responsibility.
The primary goals in Physical Education are to teach students individual and team games that stress the importance of physical activity and fitness. Instructional emphasis in Grades K-3 is based on motor skill theme development, movement concepts, and improvement in muscular strength, endurance, flexibility, and agility. In Grades 4-5, emphasis is on refinement of motor skill themes, and development of a high level of physical fitness. Students will improve skills, knowledge, and attitudes to help them lead active, healthy, and productive lives as adults.
The Computer program is fully integrated with the classroom curriculum. Kindergarten classes work on early learning programs, including early literacy and math. First Graders are introduced to a range of phonic awareness, reading, and math programs. Second Graders begin to use desktop publishing programs. They also learn basic editing skills and graphics programs. Third Graders are given their own disks to learn data management. They also use the computer as a research tool.

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