At Northern Light, all students in grades K-8 have Spanish and P.E. twice a week. Students in grades K-5 have service learning class once a week; Middle School students have one Trimester in which they take service learning twice a week. Art is woven into the curriculum through hands-on projects and through our dedicated MakerSpace, and digital literacy is stressed through trips to our 20-computer Lab and through the integration of Chromebooks into the learning environment.
The Northern Light School Spanish Language curriculum has been created to provide a coordinated approach to the development of communication skills in grades K-8. Reading and writing skills are introduced as students progress in oral language comprehension. Beginning with kindergarten, students learn to communicate in a practical, conversational manner. The ultimate goal is to give students the tools necessary to eventually create their own conversations with little or no teacher guidance. Classes are taught almost 50% in Spanish (in the Lower School) and 75 to 100% in Spanish (in the Middle School). Instructional strategies and learning activities are culturally-based and include the following: reciting, asking and answering questions, repeating, listening, singing, drawing, dancing, observing, playing games, writing and role-playing.
Kindergarten through Second Grade - Spanish for kindergarten through second grade fosters learning Spanish. Students acquire information, recognize distinctive viewpoints, and further their knowledge of other disciplines in the target language. In the same way, they address discrete elements of daily life including greetings, introductions, family, animals, weather, etc. This class is designed to expose students to Spanish in activities that allow children to get their feet wet in another language while maintaining an academic standard.
Third through Fifth Grade - Spanish for third through fifth grade fosters learning Spanish in a fun, dynamic and academic manner. This course focuses on moving students from vocabulary and short phrases to full sentences and more developed reading comprehension. Its main objective is to teach students how to relate the vocabulary they've learned to a level of limited conversational Spanish. This year will be a transition year for students to go from vocabulary building to limited conversations.
Sixth through Eighth Grade - As students progress into the Middle School curriculum, they continue to develop their listening and speaking skills in Spanish and increase their guided and shared reading and writing skills. Vocabulary topics that focus on daily activities are presented, such as telephone conversations, food shopping and clothes shopping in a department store. In the same way, students increase focus on oral communication. Dialogues are introduced, which allow students to interact with each other in Spanish. They apply vocabulary they have learned in the past to communicate in simple conversations. Guided reading skills are introduced using Spanish texts and stories to read about topics of interest that are making news in the Spanish-speaking world.
Service to the community is a crucial part of a Northern Light School education. Our Service Learning Coordinator works with every grade – K to 8 – to provide opportunities for our students to give back. From Kindergartners singing Christmas Carols at local retirement homes, to 4th graders collecting plastic and glass bottles to raise funds to for African farmers, to Middle School students sorting medical supplies to be sent to Peru, our students don’t just understand that they can make a difference in the world – they go out and do it.
At Northern Light School, we implement the SPARK Physical Education curriculum in our pre-Kindergarten through Eighth grade classes. SPARK PE is designed to encourage maximum participation during class time. Active participation and practice in a positive, non-threatening atmosphere are the means for improving children's physical skills, fitness, social development, and personal enjoyment. SPARK emphasizes health-related fitness activities; however, it is also designed to reach other traditional physical education outcomes, including the attainment of motor skills, knowledge, and social values. The focus during class time, however, is on children being actively engaged.
Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade consists of 10 instructional units, starting with Building a Foundation. This unit establishes class environment, behavioral expectations of students, management and organizational protocols, and teaches concepts, principals, and techniques which provide the foundation of physical development. Other instructional units include Parachute; Manipulatives; Balance, Stunts, and Tumbling; Catching and Throwing; Jumping; Kicking and Trapping; Dance; and Dribbling, Volleying and Striking.
Third through Fifth Grade consists of two activity themes, Focus on Fitness and Spotlight on Skills. Focus on Fitness includes 10 instructional units designed to develop and maintain the 5 components of health-related fitness: aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition. Spotlight on Skills includes 12 instructional units designed to develop sport-specific skills, rhythmic competency, and social skills. These include Flying Disc, Volleyball, Basketball, Dance, Soccer, Softball, Stunts and Tumbling and Hockey.
Sixth through Eighth Grade consists of 19 instructional units including Track and Field; Racquets and Paddles; Jump Rope; Handball; Golf; and Soccer.
Our music program is offered to students in our Lower School (K-5). Utilizing a creative and comprehensive elementary music curriculum, children learn musical concepts with an emphasis on notes and rhythms, numbers and scales, steps and intervals, Solfege (Do-Re-Mi), as well as ear training, key and time signatures, and kindness and consideration through classes in singing, listening, movement, and music appreciation.
Kindergarten - Nurture emerging musical creativity through lessons in pitch, steady beats, listening, and movement.
First Grade - Continue to hone their developing skills through lessons in note values, rhythm, Solfege, key signatures, movement, and clapping.
Second Grade - Begin to explore Solfege, scales and intervals, note values and rests, rhythm, movement, and clapping.
Third Grade - Work towards a more comprehensive understanding of music and singing as they develop breath support and control, more complex intervals, Solfege, early emerging sight reading, scales and intervals, rhythm, movement, and clapping.
Fourth and Fifth Grades - Work on developing advanced singing technique as they prepare for their musical future. They develop and practice breathing techniques, learn about head versus chest voice, continue their study of Solfege, learn about chords and cadences, chord progressions, and practice rhythm, movement, and clapping.
Teachers in grades K-8 regularly integrate Art into lessons and project-based learning opportunities in order to make the curriculum come alive.
For the 2016-2017 school year, a corner of the sixth grade/science classroom is being turned into a makerspace. Not only will middle school students be able to choose the MakerSpace/Artist’s Studio as an elective, but the room will also be open on select days both after school and during lunch recess for the general school community. MakerSpaces allow students to explore their creativity and engage in “hard fun” that promotes design thinking and the development of problem-solving skills.
Current and emerging technology plays a prominent role in the education of the whole child. Access to technology opens the door to the world beyond the classroom and increases a student's chance for success. At Northern Light School, students use developmentally appropriate, differentiated, fluid and dynamic programs and activities to acquire digital fluency. The technology curriculum emphasizes the value that technology resources bring to academic success, as well as college and career readiness.
Students complete a digital citizenship program which focuses on cyber-safety, making relevant and appropriate choices, productive collaboration with peers, and internet intellectual property issues. They practice using productivity skills and applications including navigation, keyboarding, file saving and sharing, curricular integration of online resources, as well as research techniques and best practices.
Students use digital resources for creativity to communicate ideas through unique products including multimedia presentations, blogs, game-making sites, and application coding (Google Slides, iMovie, Sploder, KidBlog, and BitsBox).
The curriculum of Northern Light School is the foundation of incorporated technology. Technology is not the driving force of the curriculum but rather the tool to achieve an integrated, cross-disciplinary learning environment that mirrors the real world.