Integrated Liberal Arts Curriculum
Integrated thematic learning is one of the many benefits the private education of Summit School provides students. Throughout the year, each grade delves into many different topics of study that are reinforced in the grade level classroom through reading, writing, math, social studies and whenever possible, include related projects in the specials classes: art, technology, music, library, Spanish, science and physical education.
Many of these projects have special “culminating events” allowing students enhance public speaking skills, as they present many facets of the project in group or individual presentations for parents, and the school community.
Integration ties subject matter together and allows for skills to be taught in a meaningful context. Summit has a private school education curriculum that is aligned with state standards and national norms. In an integrated thematic curriculum, skills are continually woven into all the classroom activities.
In the lower grades, learning centers focus on specific skills that relate to the theme and the learner outcomes. Skills that are taught have reason and a purpose, and students are taught to use the skills to think critically and formulate answers based on theory, investigation, and research.
Benefits of Private Education: A Reading Program in Kindergarten through Third Grade Supports Each Child's Needs
At Summit School, as part of our private education we have created a balanced literacy program that provides individualized attention and instruction to all students in kindergarten through third grade. Students thrive in small reading groups of three to six children, reading books specifically chosen for them, at their current instructional level. In kindergarten and first grade, the reading program is supported by a reading specialist and two instructional assistants, who join the classroom teachers. Many of our elementary teachers have earned a reading endorsement, by taking additional studies specifically related to teaching methods for reading instruction.
As a result of the small reading groups and the individual attention it allows, there is no limit on what children can achieve as part of a private education. Students do far more than learn to read. They develop strong reading, comprehension and strategies for deeper thinking, as well as a life long love of reading.
Learning centers are one of the many benefits of private school education Summit provides. Learning centers are areas in the classroom where small groups of students work on activities that have been designed to teach or reinforce specific skills. There are often three or four centers going on simultaneously. Two of the centers are teacher led and the other center may be where students work independently or cooperatively.
A private school education enables all children to use their visual, auditory and kinesthetic modalities to learn about correct letter formulation, letter sounds and using letters to build words. At the same time, students are busy with activities that support literacy development.
The goal of the Summit School of Ahwatukee language arts program is to help children see that writing doesn’t have to be a hard process and that is has real world application. Students will use a number of techniques throughout the year to help them become better writers.
The emphasis is on writing for real purposes (letters, lists, cards). The children use a variety of materials in our creative writing bin.
This time focuses on using the writing process (brainstorm, outline, rough draft, edit with teacher, and final copy). Children create a story, non-fiction piece, song, or poem. They use rubrics to check their writing and ensure that they have applied skills that were taught in mini-lessons previously.
This writing style centers on a personal responses to questions: “Where in space would you travel to?” or “Why should you not be afraid of spiders?”
Students learn to organize facts to create a report on a subject related to the current theme.
The emphasis is on using descriptive language and phonemic awareness to write about a topic from the current classroom theme.
Through writing practice and reinforcement of conventions students gain skills to write and edit their own work.
6 + 1 Trait Writing:
This is a comprehensive, reliable, and teacher- and student-friendly method of teaching and assessing writing. Expectations are clearly stated and children and teachers use rubrics to ensure that they are meeting the expectations. The children are held accountable for producing quality writing every time, whether it is a poem or a report. The traits are conventions, ideas, organization, word choice, sentence fluency, voice, and presentation.
Students are assessed in a multitude of ways. Students in third through eight grade take the Arizona state assessment, the AIMS test. In addition, students are assessed on daily work through the end-of-unit tests, projects, research reports, presentations, and homework. In kindergarten and first grade, students are regularly assessed on specific reading and math skills.
The Personal Education Plan allows teachers, parents and students to work together to set and monitor appropriate educational goals for the school year.
Students attend classes dedicated to music, art, physical education, science, Spanish, technology, and library.
Parents have the option of enrolling their children in after school sports, for students in 5th – 8th, as well as after school enrichment classes, for students in Preschool – 8th .
These activities are available for an additional fee, they are not included in the yearly tuition cost.
The technology classroom is filled with new computers that allow each student access to state of the art equipment.
Elementary and middle school classrooms all equiped with Smart Boards.
Summit also utilizes laptop computer carts that travel class to class for additional writing, research and project time.
At Summit the technology and computers are used to enhance the learning experience every day and in multiple ways.
Every classroom is connected to the Internet, which is another important way to access information for specific research projects. Students receive instruction in various software and technology skills.