Kindergarten


Your child’s education is one of the most important gifts you can give. Kindergarten is a vital building block to lifelong success in education, and confidence in a child’s ability to learn. We all want the best education possible but sometimes we are unsure of what our child needs. Here are some things to consider when choosing a kindergarten program that is best for your son or daughter.

From a parent: This is my daughter’s first year at Summit after moving her from an excelling public school mid-year. I chose Summit as they have a reputation for providing an outstanding education through individualized education, small class sizes, and an incredible amount of specials. What I wasn’t expecting was the dedication of the teachers, families, and administration in making each child’s school experience an incredible one. This involvement produces an environment that is encouraging, safe, and allows the students to be themselves and confidently meet any challenge. I am so grateful to have found Summit for what it is providing and will provide for my daughter.

~Julie, Parent of a kindergartner

Curriculum

Summit students engage in reading, writing, math, spelling, character education, social studies, thematic studies and presentation skills in the kindergarten classroom of only 18 students. Each of the two kindergarten classes have an exceptional teacher and an assistant. Whenever possible, concepts in all areas focus on hands-on, experiential learning. This allows students to gain deep understanding of concepts rather than simply memorize facts.

Additionally, kindergarten students thrive in dedicated classrooms, with teachers who are specialists in these subjects: Art, Music, Spanish, Technology, Science, Library, Physical Education

Math

The kindergarten math program builds on the foundations of mathematical thinking begun in preschool.

The core learning elements of kindergarten math include number sense, numerical operations, estimation, data analysis, discrete mathematics, patterns, geometric properties, units of measurement, time, money, calendar concepts, addition, subtraction, place value, spatial awareness, geometric objects, logic and reasoning, arguments and mathematical proof.

Kindergarten students are grouped for each new math concept and work in groups of five or less.

How are math concepts taught?

At Summit, hands-on learning is the main method of teaching. Math games and manipulatives, clocks, real money, are an integral part of math instruction. This approach allows children to visualize math concept rather then simply memorizing them. Students are encouraged to find creative ways to solve problems. With small class sizes they can also explain their mathematical reasoning to the class. This approach leads to enhanced math and thinking skills.

How often are students assessed in math?

Students are given four formal assessments throughout the year, but their progress is monitored on an on-going basis.

Summit School of Ahwatukee Mathematics inspires deep understanding, critical thinking and confidence in Preschool through Eighth Grade

Summit School of Ahwatukee mathematics curriculum is designed to meet the needs of students who have varying backgrounds, knowledge and skills.  The three main goals of the program are to develop mathematical skills, to foster an attitude toward mathematics that encourages subsequent learning and application of mathematical concepts and skills, and to prepare students for high school, college and careers that will require a strong mathematical foundation.

Summit’s Core Standards for Mathematics are based on Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards, Mathematical Practices and Math Progressions.  These standards define what is to be learned by the end of a school year or course. The math curriculum, materials and activities are developed by educators, aligned to the standards, focused on important math skills and concepts, well-articulated across all grades and intended to be responsive to the unique needs and interests of Summit School of Ahwatukee students.

Scroll below the graph to read more about the mathematics curriculum materials, student assessments, differentiation, and home learning by grade.

Math Progression_Summit School of Ahwatukee_a sequence chart

PRESCHOOL: Using research-based activities from the Erikson Institute’s Big Ideas in Early Mathematics, preschool students develop strong foundational numeracy skills that align with Summit Core Standards. Numeracy is embedded daily in all core content areas, and is also introduced through large and small group activities.

GRADES Kindergarten – 5th: Foundational skills and concepts are taught using Math Expressions (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

GRADE 6: Foundational skills are extended to prepare students for success in Pre-Algebra and Algebra using Digits (Pearson).

GRADES 7 & 8: Coursework is sequenced to prepare students for success in high school mathematics using Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry texts (McDougall Littell).

INSTRUCTIONAL PRACTICES

At Summit School of Ahwatukee, our mathematics classes foster an environment where students are seen as mathematicians and leaders. Each class, or mathematical community, encourages mathematical discussion among the students. In our math classrooms, students communicate their thinking, analyze the suggestions of others, justify their conclusions, respectfully debate a mathematical idea and defend their reasoning. Participating in these types of discussions allows our students to further develop their mathematical language and communication skills, take ownership of mathematical ideas and gain a deeper understanding of the mathematics being discussed. Our lively and enthusiastic math classes create an environment where students understand the importance of mathematics in their life and future careers.

ASSESSMENT

Throughout the school year, students at Summit are being assessed, formally and informally, to identify their mathematical strengths and areas for improvement. For example, at the beginning of each math unit, each student completes a pre-assessment that assesses the mathematical concepts for the upcoming math unit. The data from the pre-assessment enables the teacher to identify which specific skills each student has already grasped, the skills to which they need more exposure and concepts the students have not yet been introduced. Identifying the students’ prior knowledge allows each teacher to differentiate the unit’s lessons according to the students’ needs.

In addition, students are frequently informally assessed during math lessons so that the teacher can adjust future lessons according to what each student needs further practice or instruction.

Assessments are an important component of Summit’s mathematics program as the formative and summative assessments provide teachers, students and parents with feedback on each child’s mathematical progress and growth.

DIFFERENTIATION

Another central component of Summit School of Ahwatukee’s mathematics program is differentiation. Our teachers provide learning opportunities that keep each student’s individual academic needs, interests, learning style and readiness in mind in order to ensure productive student growth.  For example, when a student needs to be challenged with a specific math concept, Summit teachers will provide enrichment activities for that student. Enrichment activities and flexible grouping strategies allow students to expand their learning by studying the particular concept in more depth, and applying the math skills to new situations. Activities that involve accelerating students into above grade level textbooks or out of grade level groups are not used in Summit’s elementary classes as students in these grades are developing a strong mathematics foundation so that they will experience success in later mathematics courses.

HOME LEARNING

Summit students are given opportunities to reinforce classroom math learning at home, beginning in kindergarten.  Our home learning assignments support and enhance our academic instructional programs. Math home learning assignments typically include two components: practice and application of current math concepts being studied, and cumulative review of previously taught math concepts. The math home learning assignments are not only beneficial to the students but to parents as well. Communicating with your child as they complete their assignment, or after they complete it, gives a parent an understanding of how the child is doing mathematically.

Because we value family and leisure time, most of Summit home learning is designed to take place four nights per normal week, Monday through Thursday, and not on weekends, holidays or breaks.

Reading

The kindergarten reading program focuses on core elements including: print concepts, phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension strategies, elements of literature, expository text, and functional text.

Reading and writing are taught in the primary grades using a multi-sensory approach called the SMILA method. This technique allows the 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. Kindergarten students write on a daily basis and are often encouraged to use inventive spelling, a technique where students sound out words and write down how they think they are spelled. As children develop their phonics skills, their spelling improves.

Reading involves five instructors, who work with 36 students in our two kindergarten classes: two kindergarten teachers, two instructional aides, and a literacy specialist who has a Master’s degree in education with a focus on literacy. Each student is individually assessed and placed in a reading group of three to five children that are all reading at the same instructional level, which considers far more than their ability to read words or recall story details. Instructional levels also involves a child’s ability to use reading strategies to determine meaning of new words, think about what the character might be thinking, consider the problem in the story and brainstorm alternate solutions, discuss how the story relates to other situations.

In most Kindergarten classes there is a wide range of abilities. In our kindergarten classes teachers accommodate each individual student’s needs. Typically, there are up to 8 different reading levels being taught between both classes, and the groupings are fluid as children’s abilities grow. Informal assessments are done weekly, and students are advanced to higher level books as they are ready, with no limit on their potential. Formal assessments are administered one-on-one with teachers four times per year.

How are reading comprehension skills taught?

Strategies to develop comprehension skills are modeled during Guided Reading groups and whole class read aloud sessions. Students are taught how to think aloud, question, and make inferences when reading a variety of genres. Students strengthen their understanding of text by writing about what is read.

Are state reading standards typically met or exceeded?

EXCEEDED! For the last four years, the vast majority of Summit’s kindergarten students have met annual state reading standards by mid-year. Our goal is to take each child a year beyond their starting point. Our goal is individual growth and success.

Writing

Kindergarten is where the love of writing begins. The writing program for kindergarten focuses on prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, “six + 1 traits” of writing, expressive, expository, functional, research, listening and speaking.

Reading and writing are taught in the primary grades using a multi-sensory approach called the SMILA method. This technique allows the 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. Kindergarten students write on a daily basis and are often encouraged to use inventive spelling, a technique where students sound out words and write down how they think they are spelled. As children develop their phonics skills, their spelling improves.

During Writers’ Workshop, students are instructed in the fundamentals of writing. Teachers’ conference with individual students as well as instruct students in small groups to focus on areas of need. Often writing projects are interrelated with thematic project based learning; expand on math projects, social studies and more, so that what is being written is important to each student. Students are formally assessed three times a year and students’ progress is continually monitored.

Social Studies

Even the youngest Summit learner starts understanding the importance of history. Some of the themes studied in kindergarten include general United States history, civics and government, geography and economics.

Art - Named Best in the United States

The Summit School of Ahwatukee art curriculum is based on the Vitruvius Program. This art, architecture and design program enables students to use their creative intelligence to express ideas and concepts in tangible forms. As students engage in work based on real and imagined projects, they deepen critical thinking, narrative problem solving, spatial reasoning, and visual perception.

Design and architecture projects bring an important dimension of thinking to the program. The students learn to find reasons for their work outside of artistic self-expression, becoming divergent thinkers, and gaining a foundation for understanding a changing world.

By studying works from history and the present, students understand how art and design have made significant contributions in the shaping of culture. Students see that their creative work is part of a continuum with other artists, architects, and designers. Critiques develop the ability to observe, discriminate, compare, and contrast creative works. Students learn how to use critical language to interpret work and explain their understanding of its purposes.

The Vitruvius Program curriculum was developed with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

In 2011, this exceptional program was named the best art and architecture school curriculum in the United States, by the Association of Architecture Organizations (AAO) and winner of the National School award. Summit represented the United States in the UIA Golden Cubes International Competition in Tokyo.

In 2009 Phoenix Magazine recognized the Vitruvius Program as one of the top five education programs in Metro-Phoenix.

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art invited the Vitruvius Program at Summit School to create two different exhibitions for their young@art Gallery.

The first exhibit, Bridges: Connecting Earth to Sky, displayed from October 2010 to January 2011, and included architecture and design work from each Summit student in kindergarten through sixth grade. The second exhibit, Cycles From Fields to Cities, displayed from February through April 2013, also includes student works from Finland, France, Russia and Sweden, features designs from third and fifth grade Summit students. The architectural project was co-created by Summit art instructor Kathleen Kupper. This project asks children from many countries to think reflectively about the current state of their city’s design, and challenges them to share how they would reconstruct and reconfigure old and new elements. Artworks range from architectural models and drawings to animations.

Music

Music is an important cornerstone of the liberal arts program at Summit School of Ahwatukee. Students have the opportunity to play instruments, sing, and compose. The music department also orchestrates the Winter concert for the school.

The music curriculum involves participation in hands-on musical explorations that incorporate thinking musically, creatively, and critically. Students develop a comprehensive, basic foundation of musical understandings, skills, and experiences that will enable them to choose and pursue enriching musical experiences beyond elementary school.

Musical experiences, as recommended by state (AZ) and national (MENC) standards will include:

Performing: Singing, Playing Instruments, Improvising

Creating: Composing, Arranging, Improvising

Listening: Listening, Analyzing, Describing music, Evaluating music and music performances, Responding to music through Movement

Musical Context: Understanding music in relation to history and culture, Understanding relationships between music and other arts and disciplines outside the arts

Experiences will be structured as whole-class, small group, and individualized activities. Concepts explored will include: • Tone Color (timbre) • Duration (rhythm) • Musical Controls (volume, tempo, articulation) • Pitch (melody, harmony)

Spanish

Spanish language experiences, as recommended by state (AZ) and national foreign language standards include:

Communication: Respond to simple commands, perform short plays, poems, and songs, and express and react to a variety of feelings.

Culture: Participate in age-appropriate cultural activities and recognize how the target language and its culture add to the richness of our own cultural diversity.

Connections: Discuss topics in other school subjects in the target language (e.g. math: “más-menos”, science: “los planetas”, etc.) and present reports in the target language orally and/or in writing on topics being studied in other classes.

Comparisons: Make basic comparisons between the celebrations of the target culture and their own culture (e.g. Halloween and “EL Día de los Muertos”) and compare and contrast a variety of art forms (e.g. music, dance, visual arts, and drama) with their own culture through oral and/or written descriptions and/or performances.

Science

The Summit School of Ahwatukee science program is taught in a state of art science laboratory facility with science stations, microscopes and an abundance of hands-on learning materials; all necessary tools to make science engaging and fun.

Hands-on, experiment-based science begins in our kindergarten science class and continues through Chemistry and Physics in eighth grade.

Elementary students visit the science lab twice per week. Students’ analytical skills and critical thinking soar through experiential learning, as they develop a love of science.

The kindergarten science curriculum is based on the following themes: human body & the five senses, trees, animals, weather, wood & paper, and magnetic fun.

Kindergartners begin their year in science by gaining an understanding about how we learn about the world around us, through our five senses. Activities for this unit center on using sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell..

Technology

In kindergarten, students are taught basic computer skills. They learn about usernames, passwords, logging in and off of networks, and do simple word processing. Classroom theme related, math, and literacy web site activities are used to reinforce the classroom curriculum. Kindergarteners are exposed to beginning keyboarding practice.

Physical Education

Elementary Physical Education and Wellness at Summit follows closely with the Dynamic Physical Education Curriculum, created By Dr. Robert Pangrazi of Arizona State University, which is widely recognized throughout the world. The program has four distinct sections to each class: an instant/introductory activity followed by a fitness component and a sport and/or motor lesson that is then followed by a game. Other nationally-recognized components include AAHPERD’s Physical Best curriculum, the Cooper Institute’s Fitnessgram / Activitygram, and Project Adventure.

Class Sizes & School Hours

Summit School of Ahwatukee has two kindergarten classes with a maximum of 18 students per class. Each kindergarten classroom has a teacher and an instructional assistant, for a total student/teacher ratio of 9:1. Students also have two teachers in art class. Classes in Spanish, music, science, technology, physical education and library offer one highly experienced teacher with the 18 children in each class.

Classrooms are open and ready to welcome children and parents at 8am. Class officially begins at 8:15. This fifteen minutes allows families to get to know each other, enhancing the fabric of our school. The school day ends at 3:15 daily.

Thematic Learning

Thematic learning is an educational strength of Summit School. Throughout the year, each grade delves into many different topics of study that are reinforced through reading, writing, math, social studies, and whenever possible, include related projects within art, technology, music, library, Spanish, science, and even PE. Many of these projects have special “culminating events” allowing students to enhance public speaking skills as they present many facets of the project in group or individual presentations for parents and the school community.

Personal Education Plan

The Personal Education Plan allows teachers, parents, and students to work together to set and monitor appropriate educational goals for the school year.

Character Education

Summit kindergartners are encouraged to develop relationships with their peers during choice time in the classroom and additional morning recess. Students also work in cooperative groups during math and language centers and are paired with older students during Buddy Time. Students are instructed in character education using the CARE@Summit positive discipline and character education program developed especially for Summit students.

Parental Involvement

At Summit, all families are required to donate 10 hours per year. However, most families contribute far more of their time, not because they have to, but because they want to be actively engaged in their child’s education and success. Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend morning meetings, field trips, school-wide picnics, the art show, and kindergarten culminating events that showcase student learning and growth.

Homework

At Summit, kindergarten homework it is individualized. Each child takes home a weekly “Brain Smart” kit, containing interactive games and activities for the family to enjoy. Each child’s kit is different, and it reinforces the learning needs of that individual student.

Get to Know - Kindergarten Faculty

Danielle Klein

Kindergarten Teacher
Danielle.Klein@SummitSchoolaz.org

Danielle Petroniero-Klein has been teaching for over twenty years. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a BS in Education, with a major in Language Arts and a minor in Social Science. She also completed the Walt Disney World College Program, which offers leadership training to students all over the world, and graduated from Disney University.

Mrs. Klein began her teaching career on the Navajo Reservation in the Four Corners region. For three years she taught kindergarten and first grade, and fifth grade Social Studies and Language Arts with second language learners. She attended and led workshops on curriculum development, specifically in Social Studies. Moving to the Kyrene School District, Mrs. Klein taught all-day and half-day kindergarten for eleven years with a focus on Early Childhood and Gifted Education.

 Mrs. Klein joined the Summit faculty in 2007 as a kindergarten teacher. She earned an Early Childhood Endorsement and an SEI endorsement, while working toward a Masters’ degree with an emphasis on gifted education.  Mrs. Klein is committed to providing differentiated instruction that focuses on meeting the individual needs of students and is grateful to be able to devote her time and talents to the children at Summit School of Ahwatukee.

Erin Vosseller

Kindergarten Teacher
Erin.Vosseller@SummitSchoolaz.org

Erin Vosseller graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and has minors in French, Social Studies, and Fine Arts. She also has an Early Childhood Endorsement, a full SEI endorsement, is CLIP (Collaborative Literacy Intervention Project) certified, trained in the Project Approach and seeks out additional professional development opportunities.  Ms. Vosseller began has been teaching in 1999, joining Summit School of Ahwatukee in 2001.

Outside of school, Ms. Vosseller volunteers as an Assistant Director of Arizona Camp Sunrise & Sidekicks, a camp for children with cancer and their siblings sponsored by the Southwest Kids’ Cancer Foundation. She also loves the performing arts and spending time with friends and family.

Marsha Casey

Kindergarten Assistant
Marsha.Casey@SummitSchoolaz.org

Marsha Casey began supporting learning in Summit’s kindergarten in 2010. Her prior experience includes eleven years working in schools as a library aid and substitute classroom teacher.  She earned a BA in Marketing Management from the University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio.  She has expanded her knowledge through forty-four hours of additional coursework in elementary education from Rio Salado College.

Tera Dahl

Kindergarten Assistant
Tera.Dahl@SummitSchoolaz.org

Tera Dahl’s commitment to educational excellence is demonstrated by her sixteen years of teaching her five children in a home school environment. Her knowledge and passion became her official profession, when she joined a Kyrene school to work with Kindergarten, Preschool, and special needs children. In 2010 she brought her talent to Summit, assisting the kindergarten teacher with reading and math groups, writing projects and more. Mrs. Dahl attended Arizona State University, studying nutrition.

Molly Danforth

Math Specialist, Kindergarten through Fifth Grade
Molly.Danforth@SummitSchoolaz.org

Molly Danforth has over twenty years of teaching first through third grades. She has also earned the prestigious National Board Certification. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Gonzaga University, and a Masters in Education in 1997 from Northern Arizona University.  To expand her teaching skills Ms. Danforth has taken additional training in Cognitively Guided Instruction, Intel Math, as well as several other math courses, and has earned a Reading Endorsement in 2002 from Arizona State University. Ms. Danforth joined Summit in 2007 as a 2nd grade teacher and now serves as Summit’s Kindergarten – 2nd grade math coordinator, using her expertise to enhance classroom math instruction and assessments, and further Summit’s teachers’ professional development in mathematics.