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Curriculum and Instruction

Curriculum, instruction and assessment are well aligned in the North Salem Schools. The K-12 curriculum clearly reflects New York States 28 Learning Standards in the disciplines. North Salem has been a "school in good standing," as designated by the New York State Department of Education Report Card. The curriculum process and writing initiated over the past five years has been comprehensive and commendable. Curriculum guides are well developed.

The model adopted by the district uses the paradigm established by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in their work, Understanding by Design. This model is an enhanced and backward design process through which curriculum is assessed, designed, written and implemented. Steps in the process include:

    1.    Key Question Design
    2.    Design considerations using 6 facets of understand (explanation, interpretation,
           application, perspective, empathy and self-knowledge.
    3.    Filters (design criteria)
    4.    What the final design accomplishes
    5.    Design tested against design standards
    6.    Peer review and pilot questions
    7.    Complete Design
    8.    Sharable design

Instruction at PQ and the Middle/High School is delivered by a fine group of professional teachers. Lessons are planned diligently. Teachers know their content, demonstrate knowledge of students and design coherent lessons with formative assessments. Classroom environments are well organized, and teachers demonstrate a caring, respectful rapport. Instructional procedures are well defined and student behavior is excellent.

Instructional strategies are accomplished in centers, whole group activities, independent tasks and small groups. Teachers communicate clearly and asked many questions. They demonstrate flexibility and responsiveness to students. North Salem teachers true professionals who reflect on their teaching, communicate with families and take their own staff development seriously in the spirit of life long learning.

K-12 Programs

Elementary Program

PQ offers an excellent elementary program to all students K-12. Notable programs include balanced literacy, reading recovering, writing, art and music. A one-hour block of time is utilized for mathematics (fully developed manipulative program) and English language arts. The teaching staff is caring and competent. PQ is truly a professional learning community. Teachers commend the new report card format, professional development and class size.

Kindergarten provides a center organizational structure with beginning literacy and hands-on math and science. In first and second grades, balanced literacy continues, writing is introduced and assessment begins with the DRA. 3rd. The Rain Forest Night is a highlight project for the third grade. In the fourth grade, community involvement is strengthened with Parents as Partners. In the fifth grade, independent reading is promoted; the Great Body Shop is introduced in Health and orienteering begins in science.

PQ actively pursues field trip activities at all grade levels for students: the Norwalk and Madden Educational Centers, Phillipsburg Manor, the Albany Visit, New Your State Museum, the Madden Educational Program and the Bronx Zoo.

Middle School Program

The North Salem Middle School Program is exemplary. The program reflects Seven Essential Elements of the Middle School as defined by the New York State Department of Education: purpose, educational program, organization and structure, classroom instruction, educational leadership, academic and personal support, professional learning. Data based decision-making is employed for optimal educational planning for students. The team structure with team leaders is effective and affords interdisciplinary curriculum work. Achievement results are positive and improving.

High School Program

There is tight articulation between the middle school and high school programs. The curriculum offerings are varied and demanding, with a wide array of AP courses and electives for a small school. The teaching staff is caring and competent. A focus on writing and projects is evident. Teachers use Socratic seminars. Specific features of the departments are included below:
 

English Language Arts
    •    Grade 6-12 Research Continuum
    •    Unified approach to Reading and writing 6-12
    •    Integration of tech through Blogs and smart boards
    •    Honors and AP courses
LOTE (Languages Other Than English)
    •    Grade 6-12 Continuum
    •    Authentic readings 6th-12th
    •    Observation of cultural months
    •    Email exchanges to Spain, Argentina and France
Mathematics
    •    Smart Board Technology
    •    Portfolio Assessment
    •    Graphing calculators T1
    •    AP Statistics, Calculus and Calculus BC
Science
    •    AP Biology, EP Environmental Science, AP Chemistry and AP Physics,
         Environmental Science, Forensics, and Independent Scientific Research
         and effective integration of technology
Social Studies
    •    Interdisciplinary research paper/project Grades 9 and 10
    •    Interdisciplinary units 6, 7, 8, 9 and 12th grades
    •    Psychology, Law, Military History and Human Rights
    •    AP American and World History
Visual Arts
    •    Interdisciplinary and process-based program 6,7,8
    •    NW Center for the Arts, Pace University Show and Garrison Art Center
Music Arts
    •    Creating, Listening and Performing
    •    Band and Choir
    •    Digital Audio and Video
    •    Composition and Improvisation
    •    Studio recording and sound reinforcement
Family and Consumer
    •    Hands-on laboratory setting
    •    Integrates technology
    •    Process oriented approach to life skills
    •    Budgeting: Tracking your money
    •    Diet analysis
    •    Job interviewing, resume writing and career portfolios
Technology
    •    Engineering Design
    •    Computer technology
    •    Impact of technology and management
    •    Systems thinking and models
Health and PE
    •    Well developed activities: all sports, weight room, wellness, mental health,
         human sexuality, nutrition, health and safety and computer software.
 

Chase University River Central School District