Throughout their academic years at Journeys School, students are immersed in seven core discipline areas: mathematics, language arts, science, social studies, Spanish, fine arts and physical education. The curriculum at Journeys School is thematic in nature, based on national standards and influenced by our place and student body. Curriculum maps are used to facilitate integration between disciplines.
Each core area is guided by a set of outcomes generated from the best available standards. The set of standards used as a benchmark are the nationally recognized and developed Common Core, American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages, National Council for the Social Studies, National Standards for History and National Science Education Standards. Flexible grouping allows students to be placed in “just right” groups in both language arts and mathematics. These “just right” groups are based on a combination of the individual student’s academic ability as well as their social emotional development. Students can thus progress at an appropriate pace, accelerating or remediating as needed.
Engaging children early in the reading and writing process instills a desire and interest to become lifelong readers and literate beings. Reading and Writing groups meet every morning and provide students with a collection of strategies to improve confidence, hone skills and grow as readers and writers. Our literacy program is comprised of research-based curricula and best practices from a variety of sources. In the upper grades (2-5), our Reading and Writing Workshops are primarily informed by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University and in the lower grades (K-1) we follow the Read Well curriculum. We supplement our reading and writing workshops with Handwriting without Tears handwriting practice, daily grammar as well as the Sitton Spelling and Word Skills spelling program. In all grades, our reading program is also influenced by the work of Kathy Collins, author of Growing Readers: Units of Study in the Primary Classroom and instructor at the Summer Institute on Teaching of Reading at Teachers College, Columbia University. As Kathy Collins writes, "I need to teach children how to read, but I also need to teach them how to fall in love with reading. I need to teach children the skills and strategies that strong readers use, but I also need to teach them the reading habits that they will keep long after they leave our classroom." Our goal is to create a learning environment that supports all students in building strong reading habits, using strategies to figure out words, as well as thinking and talking about books together. The early grades utilize various strategies to teach reading including small guided reading groups, sight word work as well as phonics instruction. In the upper elementary grades, book groups are commonly utilized to delve deeper into comprehension strategies. Book choices in the upper elementary grades frequently reflect either the focus of the current Writing Workshop genre or the focus of the science or social studies units. Reading Workshop units include: Authors Study, Character Study, Non-Fiction, Poetry, and Realistic Fiction.
Our writing program follows the Units of Study for Teaching Writing and Units of Study for Primary Writing created by Lucy Calkins, the Founding Director of Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. This program is focused on the process of learning to write and fostering a love for writing that will continue beyond the classroom. As each student has his or her own strengths and challenges, final products are not expected to always look the same. A focus of this curriculum is developing independent writers and strives to support young writers in conveying their wonderful ideas in print in a way that will allow others to enjoy their creativity. The Writing Workshop units include Personal Narratives, Small Moment, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Memoir, Folklore and Literary Essay.
Our ultimate goal is for students to be confident and capable readers and writers. We strive to create an environment in which students engage in conversations about what they have read, as well as what they have written, and to truly think of themselves as readers and writers. Our program also allows for student-driven interests, projects and public presentations that motivate individual learners and the class as a whole.
Students at Journeys School are challenged to go beyond a procedural understanding of mathematics and to develop a true conceptual understanding as well. To guide the students in achieving these goals, Math in Focus: The Singapore Approach was adopted in the spring of 2011. Math in Focus offers the authentic Singapore math pedagogy with fewer topics taught in greater depth at each grade level. The program features visual representations and modeling strategies to solve complex problems; a consistent concrete-pictorial-abstract progression and strong development of both conceptual understanding, place value and computational fluency so students understand the “how” as well as the “why.” Problems and projects presented in the texts are adapted to connect to curricular themes and other classes to make learning relevant. The overall goal is to help students develop both a conceptual as well as a procedural understanding of mathematics. Additionally, we are focused on teaching students that math can be enjoyable and useful as a tool.
The elementary school science program is based on concepts of inquiry and understanding place. Using topics in the fields of biology, physics, chemistry, earth science, technology and environmental science, students learn to become scientists in the way they think and act. Through the inquiry method, students learn to ask relevant questions, make hypotheses and design experiments. The program is based on the yearly themes which maximizes integration with other subject areas and the Jackson Hole community. Learning about the scientific process and science concepts in context allows students to understand the role of science in the world beyond school. Classroom and field investigations are designed to provide hands-on opportunities for students to experience science. In elementary school, students are found actively doing science, not passively listening to science.
The social studies program is designed to provide students with a thematic and integrated context for learning that teaches students about human interactions with the biological, physical, and social world. Citizenship and understanding communities in the early grades transforms to government and history in the older grades. Curriculum allows for students to learn about local, national and global history while making connections to common themes within the social sciences. Social studies activities include current events discussions, literature study, geography, cartography, research, note-taking, presentations and journeys.
The annual theme drives the social studies curriculum and serves as a basis for both the integration of content areas and discovery of the many and varied ways in which humans interact within the Jackson Hole community, the nation, and the world. Experiences related to social studies have included an introduction to map making in the study of the counties in Wyoming, a student designed mock presidential election, historical simulations, a primary document and literature-based look at the American Revolution and a creation of navigational instruments used by early explorers. In their quest to discover more about our place and beyond, Journeys School students have gone dog sledding, visited historical museums, hiked along the Snake River, viewed Jackson Hole from the top of a mountain, and participated in numerous simulations including the Gold Rush, Ellis Island and Colonial Life.
Based on the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning, the approach to foreign language learning is focused on communication, cultures, comparisons, connections and communities. Thematic instruction is an integral part of early language learning. It helps to create a relevant learning environment in the elementary foreign language classroom. Elementary students explore specific themes while developing cognitive skills which tie directly to other academic areas and help reinforce the goals of the elementary curriculum. Lessons encompass geography, math, music, art, social studies, physical education and Latino culture. Learning is spiraling in nature so that students build their listening skills and become increasingly independent in their use of written and spoken Spanish.
Elementary students participate in visual arts classes twice a week. Students create artwork using the principles and elements of art and design and demonstrate an understanding of how subject matter, symbols and ideas are used to communicate meaning in art. Lessons are integrated into thematic units reflecting the broader goals of the elementary curriculum. Students familiarize themselves with periods of art and cultures throughout history. Students learn about important artists and make connections to these artists’ styles in their own work. Journeys School artists have the opportunity to work with various media, learn new techniques and processes, and develop and honor their own unique artistic talent. Each year, student work is displayed in an Art Extravaganza for the whole school community to share and celebrate the arts.
Elementary students participate in music or drama classes twice a week. They sing and listen to the works of master composers, learn to recognize the instruments of the orchestra by sight and sound, compose original music and learn to use their bodies expressively. Students compare world and ethnic music as they make connections with themes they are studying in the rest of the elementary curriculum. All students also prepare for various performances (both musical and dramatic) throughout the school year. Students focus on playing percussion instruments, recorders and the keyboard. The fundamentals of music are thoroughly explored.
The mission of the Physical Education program is to develop students who possess the motivation and intellect to make healthy choices and the physical competence to participate in a variety of active pursuits for a lifetime. Thus sportsmanship, leadership, fitness concepts and healthy student attitudes towards physical activity are woven together into fitness activities, competitive sports and psychomotor skill development. Our P.E. program is standards based, deliberately sequenced, accessible to all students and focused on lifetime skills and physical fitness. FitnessGram assessments are interlaced into the 2nd through 5th grade program, which assess students in the five areas of health-related fitness; aerobic capacity, flexibility, muscular strength, muscular endurance and body composition. Through this assessment, students become self-aware of their personal fitness in comparison to the “healthy fitness zone” for their age and gender. Additionally, Journeys School partners with community organizations to teach all students dance, gymnastics, and mixed martial arts. The annual Winter Sports Program is on a rotation between ice skating, Nordic skiing and alpine skiing or snowboarding at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.