Rooted In Faith, Growing in Knowledge
iPads are used in all grades PreK - 8. All 3rd through 8th grade students participate in a 1:1 iPad program utilizing a school-provided, individual device at school (4th-8th grade students also take their iPads home each day). Students use Google Apps for education, online personalized learning tools, digital textbooks, and other apps for creative and collaborative learning.
Many resources are available to teachers and staff to enhance their curriculum and provide differentiated and personalized learning. Teachers continue to improve their own learning through a variety of professional development opportunities offered both on and off site. A full-time technology coach assists with professional development as well as curriculum. Our coach also assists teachers with STREAM integration in their classroom.
Students have access to iPads, laptops and Chromebooks at different grade levels. They are able to share their work through Airplay and Apple TV.
Learning Resource Center: This collaborative space supports both project based learning and technology integration. Students use Accelerated Reader and Alexandria software to enhance their library time. Touch screen Chromebooks are utilized to differentiate a student's technology exposure.
Our full-time technology teacher uses MacBooks and iPads to teach basic skills including keyboarding, word processing, spreadsheet creation and data manipulation and digital presentation creation. She collaborates with grade level teachers to enhance classroom instruction.
We employ a full-time technology staff to support our 21st century learners. Our staff includes a technology coordinator, technology teacher, technology coach, and technology assistant.
Technology at SJC
Our network infrastructure and technology curriculum is updated continuously to provide our students the best
possible experience. Technology is integrated throughout the curriculum in grades PreK - 8 preparing our students for high school and beyond. Our entire teaching staff integrates technology into our everyday learning activities.
St. John of the Cross teaches digital citizenship using the Common Sense Media curriculum suggested by the Archdiocese of Chicago.
In order to compete in a global, technical economy, leading educators have been working to insure US schools are properly preparing students to thrive in the new economy. In the early 2000’s, programs emerged that placed a greater emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math since most job growth will occur in these disciplines for the foreseeable future. Over the years other more comprehensive programs have evolved. St John of the Cross Parish School is implementing a STREAM initiative, which is an excellent way to deliver rich and relevant educational experiences to our students. Below is a brief explanation of how STEM has in many cases progressed to STREAM.
What is a STEM Education?
The STEM acronym was introduced in 2001 by scientific administrators at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). The STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are all congruent, therefore it was a logical choice for schools in the he early 2000’s.
What is a STEAM Education?
STEAM, adds Art, which gives STEM a new dimension, hands-on activities now include concepts of good design. Students become more creative and engaged and can express their understanding more thoroughly then in a STEM program.
What is a STREAM Education?
The R adds reading, writing, and religion, a multidisciplinary approach that is solid cross-curricular teaching. Reading and writing skills are more important than ever in our increasingly technical world. The jobs of today and the future depend much more on research and communication than ever before. Religion is infused into all we do at SJC and will always be a central focus of our curriculum.
St. John of the Cross Parish School places a strong focus on project and problem based learning. Staff and support members promote two strategies to facilitate the delivery of our rigorous STREAM program: Curriculum Integration and Cross-Grade Curricular Articulation. Curriculum Integration embraces the idea that boundaries between individual subject areas are removed and most activities make connections to other subject areas. For example, students designing a building in computer aided design provides an opportunity to research and explore various interior decor options in art class, and different building materials options in science class. Cross-Grade Curricular Articulation is the progression of learning objectives from one grade level to the next, within each discipline. For a student to successfully progress from Grade 6 to Grade 7, they will have been exposed to and have mastered all the necessary prerequisites in Grade 6 for success in Grade 7. Close collaboration between all faculty and staff members will achieve the desired outcomes for both strategies.
Religion (Stories of God’s Love)
To provide an opportunity for each child
- To appreciate the world God has made
- To accept his/her own uniqueness
- To develop a sense of belonging (to a Christian community, family and class)
- To know that God loves us
Social/Emotional (Second Step)
- To express feelings appropriately
- To form relationships with adults and peers
- To show empathy for others
Reading Readiness/Language Arts
To provide an opportunity to learn and develop
- Pre-reading skills
- Listening skills
- Communication skills
- Interest in books and reading
- Literature appreciation
- Dramatic play
- Fine-motor skills
To provide an opportunity to learn to
- Sort and compare objects
- Recognize the numerals 1 to 5
- Count 1 to 5 objects
- Rote count to 10
- Extend an AB pattern
- A questioning atmosphere
- An interest in nature
- An awareness of the environment
- Various concepts related to other curricular areas
- Large and small muscles
- Experience using various media
To stimulate an appreciation for
- Singing and dancing
- Various types of music
- Gross motor skills
- Balance and coordination
- A sense of group participation
Religion (Stories of God’s Love, RCL Benziger)
Provide an opportunity for each child to understand that:
- God created the world and all that is in it
- God loves him/her
- God gives us signs of his love
- Jesus is God’s only Son and that he died for us
- We are to act like Jesus and love one another
- The Bible is a special book that tells about God
- We come together to talk and listen to God in prayer
- Church is a special place that we share with God
Social/Emotional (Second Step Program)
Model behavior and encourage students to:
- Express feelings appropriately
- Form positive relationships with adults and peers
- Show empathy for others
Language Arts (Happily Ever After, The Rowland Reading Program, Letter of the Week)
Provide an opportunity for each child to learn to:
- Handle a book and track print from left to right and top to bottom
- Identify and name the letters of the alphabet
- Write first name using upper and lower case letters
- Recognize last name in print
- Understand letter-sound relationships
- Distinguish between real and “make believe”
- Listen with understanding
- Relate prior knowledge to new information
- Respond to verbal directions
With the use of manipulatives, provide an opportunity for students to:
- Demonstrate early understanding of measurements using non-standard units, including making comparisons such as larger and smaller
- Order objects in series or rows
- Sort and classify objects by a variety of properties
- Recognize, count and write numbers
- Demonstrate one-to-one correspondence
- Add and subtract with the use of manipulatives
- Recognize and name two and three dimensional shapes
Through non-fiction reading and hands on experience, prompt students to:
- Ask questions about organisms and events in the environment
- Use simple tools to measure and relate data
- Discuss differences between living and non-living things
- Make comparisons between materials
- Identify common objects seen in the sky
Through current events, literature and daily routines, lead children to:
- Help each other & treat people fairly
- Identify rules and understand roles/jobs in the classroom and community
- Recognize the US flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance
- Identify different types of weather and seasons
- Describe traditions and holidays
- Various concepts related to other curricular areas
- Fine motor skills
- Experience using various media
To stimulate an appreciation for
- Singing and dancing
- Various types of music
- Musical instruments
- Gross motor skills
- Balance and coordination
- A sense of group participation
- Self-confidence and good sportsmanship
The Religion Program used in kindergarten is “Blest Are We” by RCL Benzinger. “Blest Are We” Kindergarten is a developmental program based on scripture and rooted in the teachings of our Catholic faith. The main unit themes are:
- God’s Love Creates the Universe
- God’s Love Makes Me Who I Am
- God’s Love Gives Me People to Love
- God’s Love Gives Me Jesus
- God’s Love Teaches Me to Love
The children will learn that creation is a gift from God, who created all things out of a deep abiding love for us. Each day God will be an integral part of our routines as we begin and end each day with a prayer. We will also pray before eating and will use teachable moments to pray to God to help guide us in making good decisions.
The reading program kindergarten uses is called Superkids. It is a Rowland Reading Program. The program features a cast of lively characters called the Superkids, whose adventures and activities delight children. The characters mirror the interests of the kindergartners so the program is very engaging. By the completion of the year the students will:
- Learn and be able to identify 26 letters and sounds.
- Know all Superkids names and character traits.
- Know how to write capital/lowercase forms of each letter and write words and sentences. All letters will be written in manuscript form.
- Learn how to blend sounds to read and how to segment sounds to spell.
- Read 43 Dolch sight words.
- Use comprehension skills and strategies applied to short decodable stories.
- Learn vocabulary and fluency skills.
- Learn phonemic awareness skills, such as rhyming; identifying beginning, middle, and ending sounds; and adding or deleting phonemes (sounds).
One of the strongest components of this program is the explicit phonics instruction that gives children a reliable way to unlock the written word. The program seamlessly integrates reading, spelling, writing, and other language arts. Also, phonetically controlled vocabulary ensures success, which enables children to really read, not guess. Lastly, the program uses a multimodal approach to practice key reading skills in the modality that suits each child’s individual needs.
Comprehensive Kindergarten program developed to support the Common Core State Standards for mathematics. GO MATH! emphasizes the following content standards, skills and concepts.
Counting and Cardinality – know number names and the count sequence, count to tell the number of objects, compare numbers.
Operations and Algebraic Thinking – represent addition and subtraction to ten with objects, drawings, fingers, mental images and ten frames.
Numbers and Operations in Base 10 – work with numbers to gain foundations for place value, compose and decompose numbers in more than one way.
Measurement and Data – describe and compare measurable attributes, classify and sort data.
Geometry and Positions – identify and describe 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional shapes, analyze, compare, and create shapes.
Students will be exposed to math projects and games that will enhance and support the curriculum.
Go Math! focuses on the students’ ability to record, represent, solve, and explain as they develop and discover new concepts in Math.
We cover the study of:
- force, friction, and gravity
- the human body
We will also visit the science lab once a month to conduct hands-on experiments and activities.
We will learn about feelings, rules, and consequences using our Second Step Program. Students will learn about community workers and their jobs as well as how we are part of a family and community, where we learn from one another. We will also talk about traditions that are important in our families. Students will explore holidays at the appropriate times during the year. Finally, students will recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily.
We begin everyday with Religion. We will learn about God, Jesus and our Church. We will learn many prayers including The Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, our classroom morning prayer, the end of the day prayer, a variety of snack prayers and the Prayer of St. Francis which we recite each morning as a school. We will lead the school in prayer over the PA and attend Mass as well as classroom prayer services. Each Wednesday the homerooms attend a student lead prayer service in our school chapel. During Advent and Lent we will focus on the Christmas Story and Easter Story. We will learn various Bible stories as well as about the lives of the Saints. Our Second Step program will be used in conjunction with Religion and deals with learning about feelings, emotions and strategies for managing our feelings. This year as a school we will focus on the three R’s of Responsibility, Respectfulness and Readiness as we consider WWSJCD? (What would a St. John of the Cross student do) Please see the bulletin board in the main hall for pictures of students who have been recently recognized for their positive behavior.
This year first grade has adopted the Super Kids Reading Program. This is a balanced literacy program that follows a cast of lively characters through adventures and activities. This integrated approach to reading is comprehensive as it incorporates phonics, spelling, comprehension, vocabulary, fluency handwriting, grammar and expressive writing.
As classroom teachers we also enhance the Super Kids with many of our own programs and related language arts activities. The students are engaged in a yearlong creative and expressive writing process as they participate in the following:
*Squiggle of the Week – a scribble that is turned into a picture and then the students write about their creation.
*Class books – written weekly to reinforce the words brainstormed from the phonics rule for the week.
*Author’s Day books – individual books that are completed after the students go through the editing process to actually publish their own books.
*Classroom Centers- nine to twelve monthly centers that provide reinforcement and enrichment of concepts that are taught in the first grade curriculum.
We us the super Kids guide to forming manuscript letters. We will introduce and practice the proper formation of printed numerals as well as lower and upper case letters, including sizing and spacing.
We use the Go Math in first grade. The program is designed to capitalize on student interest and maximize student learning. We will focus on the following six content strands that cover a number of skills and concepts:
- Operations and Computation
- Data and Chance
Addition and Subtraction facts will be introduced weekly and emphasized through the Math Blaster Center. Go Math Practice and Homework will be sent for homework three or four times per week.
We will explore four primary science themes in first grade. They include Life Science, Physical Science, Space Science and Earth Science. Some of the concepts we will cover are animals, the five senses, weather, recycling, the environment and planets. We will visit the science lab each week on Friday afternoon to conduct experiments.Social Studies
We will cover basic patriotism, history, geography, social systems (families and communities), current events and the economy. Everyday a student reports on current events through the Newscaster program. The first grade also studies the continent of Antarctica across the curricular areas.
Students in first grade receive three progress reports as well as three report cards throughout the year. Grades given are as follows:
- M = mastered- consistently demonstrates
- S = successful – frequently demonstrates
- E = emerging – occasionally demonstrates
- NY = not yet – rarely/never demonstrates
- NE = not evaluated
Two parent/teacher conferences will also be held this year (November and February). This is an excellent opportunity to discuss your child’s progress. However if we have concerns that need to be discussed, we will contact you when they arise throughout the year.
Please contact us if you have any additional questions. We look forward to working with you this year.
The First Grade Team
Of course, two of the most important faith moments of second grade at St. John of the Cross School are the reception of the sacraments of First Eucharist and Reconciliation. In our Religion class we discuss the concepts of belonging to a Christian community, showing responsibility for ourselves and others, listening to God’s Word through Bible stories, and participating more fully in a Christian life through the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Reconciliation. Children are introduced to many different kinds of prayer, and classroom discussions allow them to learn more about respect, integrity and our responsibility to care for God’s creation. We actively participate in school liturgies, including liturgies directed toward the primary grades in particular, and we learn music to enhance our worship.
We use the Superkids program as the basis for instruction in the Language Arts disciplines.
Great emphasis is placed on Reading instruction in second grade. Reading is taught daily as a component of a comprehensive Language Arts curriculum. Our program includes instruction in phonics, word-attack skills, comprehension, oral reading, critical thinking and appreciation of various forms of literature. Flexible grouping will allow the children to advance at their own pace and enjoy stories at their own instructional level. Opportunities are provided frequently for recreational reading, alone or with a partner. The students visit the school library weekly, enjoy making selections from our extensive classroom collection of books, and the teachers read to their class on a daily basis.
Our spelling program has as its inherent goal making every child a speller. Each week a word list will be sent home. This list is meant to be kept at home for practice. We also practice our through Daily Routine activities. Most of the words feature phonetic or structural elements that are being taught in the unit. Others are Memory Words (sight words). Students practice their skills in spelling through the study of pattern words and memory words. Pattern words are phonetically regular or apply predictable patterns or rules. Children can spell pattern words by writing the letters for the sounds they hear. Memory words are not phonetically regular or have letter options for their sounds. Children must learn the spelling of each memory word by heart. As the year progresses the children will be held accountable for the correct spelling of these words whenever they are used. The children are also provided with experience in using a dictionary as a writing tool.
Grammar and Writing
In addition to helping students with speaking and listening skills, our curriculum focuses on the mechanics of our sometimes complex and difficult language.
We will learn about sentence types and sentence structure. We will identify nouns, verbs, and pronouns and their correct usage. Instruction about adjectives and adverbs helps to enhance student stories. Proofreading and peer editing exercises allow students to make improvements before writing a final draft. Many opportunities will be provided for children to practice their newly emerging writing skills. Journaling allows the students to respond on a daily basis to writing prompts.
We emphasize the writing process as a means of applying attributes of good writing to students’ work: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency and conventions. Students are provided with frequent opportunities to publish their work.
Math is taught daily in second grade. We will use the Go Math program again this year. Some of the concepts covered in the program are number sense and place value, addition and subtraction, measurement and data, and geometry and fractions. An emphasis is placed on mastering basic addition and subtraction facts. Manipulatives are often used to bring a concept to a more concrete level. We frequently integrate literature into our math program, enjoying stories where math concepts are an important part of the story.
We begin the program with a review of the proper formation of printed upper-and-lower-case letters, including size and spacing. During the second semester of the year, the cursive alphabet is introduced. Children learn the proper formation of letters and the joining of these letters to form words in cursive. We ask that the students do not try to write in cursive until it is formally taught in class.
Our second grade Science program is full of discovery. The children will use a hands-on approach in all of our Science units, participating in a lab experience once a week. We will cover many concepts, including nutrition, weather, plants, the environment, force and motion, and states of matter. Our program promotes critical thinking, decision-making, and an awareness of the scientific process. Children will also come to realize the correlation between Science and Math concepts.
The second grade Social Studies program focuses on living together in a community, sharing goods and services. The children learn through our text, maps, charts, projects and related literature. They learn about famous Americans and the impact they have had on our lives. They are introduced to basic concepts of history and geography. They discuss current events by sharing Time For Kids magazine. Second graders will also discover many interesting things about the continent of Australia, its people and the animals that are specific to the region.
The importance of our Catholic faith is stressed each day through prayer, song, Bible stories, and discussion. Our religion series, Blest Are We Faith in Action, reflects what it means to be a Catholic from the core teaching of our Faith. It also emphasizes discipleship, liturgy, worship, and unity in our Church community through:
The Church Is One
The Church Is Holy
The Church Is Catholic
The Church Is Apostolic
The Church Has a Mission to the World
As a vehicle for more scripture and liturgical-based Religion lessons, each third grade student will be presented with a personal copy of the New American Bible (which will ‘travel’ with him/her through future years at St. John of the Cross Parish School).
Our Language Arts Program integrates reading, writing, grammar, and spelling. The McGraw Hill Wonders literature anthology is designed to ignite the spark of inquisitiveness present in every child by using classic, contemporary, and multicultural literature to build motivated and successful readers and writers. Along with reading, vocabulary, and word analysis, the following strategies will be taught: Story Elements, Cause/Effect, Main Ideas/Details, Making Inferences, Story Mapping, Classification, Summarizing, Figurative Language, Using Context Clues, Biographical Reading, Comprehension Monitoring, Predicting Outcomes, Fact/Opinion, Sequence of Events
GO MATH! supports the Standards for Mathematical Practices through a carefully sequenced arc of learning where students develop deep conceptual understanding, and then practice, apply, and discuss what they know with skill and confidence in four content strands:
Whole Number Operations Add and subtract within1,000; represent and interpret data; understand multiplication, multiplication facts and strategies, use multiplication facts; understand division, division facts and strategies.
Fractions Understand and compare fractions.
Measurement Time, length, liquid volume, and mass; perimeter and area.
Geometry Exploring 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional shapes and other geometric concepts.
The Pearson Interactive Science Write-in Student Edition nurtures the inquisitive side of students and engages them in new and varied ways. Organized into three distinct pathways – reading, inquiry, and digital – Interactive Science makes learning science in three major blocks – Life, Earth, and Physical Science – personal, relevant, and engaging. Interactive Science provides support for multi-dimensional learning of the Disciplinary Core Ideas, the Crosscutting Concepts, the Science and Engineering Practices, and the Performance Expectations.
The focus in third grade social studies is communities. Pearson myWorld Social Studies We Are Connected focuses on exploring concepts and building knowledge about Our Communities, Our Environment, Communities Build a Nation, U.S. Government, Citizenship, A Growing Nation, Working in Our Communities, Celebrating Communities; transferring learning beyond the classroom
We will also study our own state of Illinois through a unit on the ‘Prairie State’, and the Village of Western Springs is explored through an expeditionary learning experience.
Each grade level (1 thru 8) focuses on one of the seven continents. The third grade continent of study is South America. During our exploration of this fascinating continent, students will be able to learn more about its people, cultures, geography, rainforests, and animals.
Our Goals for Students
- To deepen your child’s faith and commitment
- To improve grammar and writing skills
- To develop confidence in oral skills
- To encourage writing for enjoyment and purpose
- To foster a love for reading
- To implement innovative problem solving and computation skills
- To create an awareness of global issues facing our Earth
- To spark excitement and discovery of science and new technologies
Our book, Blest Are We, covers the four pillars of Catholic doctrine in every unit: What Catholics Believe, What Catholics Worship, How Catholics Live, and How Catholics Pray. Parents are encouraged to review the “Take Home” page at the beginning of each chapter. Every fourth grader has a Bible to use in school during his/her remaining years at SJC. We also use a program called, “Steps to Respect”. The objective of this program is to help students recognize and prevent bullying. The Archdiocese “Family Life” series is taught in the spring. This year we will introduce “Called to Protect” which increase students’ safety awareness.
We will be using the Pearson Interactive Science text. This program incorporates hands-on experiences. There are also examples of scientific knowledge in Illinois and correlates to the Next Generation Science Standards.
Our text is titled My World, Our Country’s Regions. It covers the eight strands of social studies: economics, citizenship, geography, government, history, culture, technology and social studies skills to better understand the world around us. The students will also be participating in the Regional Fair, which will be in March this year.
The program used in fourth grade is called Wonders by Macmillan/McGraw-Hill. The series is composed of the following skills and concepts: phonics, word study, vocabulary, comprehension, fluency, and writing. Many different genres and instruction will be used this year.
The fourth graders will use the Go Math series. Units of study will include: naming and constructing geometric figures, finding perimeter, area, and volume of different shapes, using numbers and organizing data, multiplication and division, number sentences, decimals, estimation, fractions, and probability. Please continue to work on mastering basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts at home.
The goal of the Spanish program in Grades 1-5 is to provide an environment where students can gain knowledge of the Spanish language by building confidence and enthusiasm in the beginning student. Correctness is not the main objective but rather to build positive attitudes. Repetition and positive reinforcement are critical. The following topics are covered:
Sign of the Cross, Prayers, Names, Greetings, Farewells, Polite Words, Feelings, Numbers, Animals, Colors, Calendar, Weather, Parts of the Body, Clothing, Classroom Objects, Family, Places to Go, Transportation, Songs, Chants, Hispanic Customs and Holidays
Grades 6 – 8
The goal of the Spanish program is to provide students with a solid foundation for acquiring the Spanish language. A positive experience here at SJC will instill an appreciation for learning the language, the customs and the history of Spanish-speaking countries. In all grades the students will develop listening, reading, writing and speaking skills in the target language. The following topics are covered in each grade:
Prayers, Greetings, Farewells, Numbers, Classroom Vocabulary and Commands, Origin, Professions, Subject Pronouns, SER, TENER, Subject – Verb Agreement, Appearance, Personality, Colors, Clothing, Family, Age, Activities
Prayers, Numbers, Weather, Dates, Time, Origin, GUSTAR, Present Tense Verbs (-ar, -er, -ir), Irregular Present Tense Verbs (SER, ESTAR, IR), Interrogatives, Activities, Foods, School, Emotions, Location, Characteristics, Descriptions, Possessive Adjectives, Family
Prayers, Numbers (to one million), Comparatives, Shopping, Present Tense Stem-Changing Verbs, Direct Object Pronouns, Tener Expressions, Places, Events, IR + A + infinitive, SER vs. ESTAR, Ordinal Numbers, House, Party Vocabulary, Chores, Responsibilities, Tú Commands, ACABAR de, Additional Irregular Present Tense Verbs, Sports, SABER vs. CONOCER