Summit students in kindergarten through fourth grade engage in reading, writing, math, spelling, character education, social studies, thematic studies, and presentation skills with their primary grade level teacher. Concepts in all areas focus on hands-on, experiential learning. Additionally, elementary students study the following subjects with specialized teachers in dedicated classrooms:
- Science lab
- Physical Education
In the early 1980’s, creative teachers in school districts across the country decided there must be a better way to gather useful information about student writing performance than with single scores or standardized tests. They wanted an instrument that would provide accurate, reliable feedback to students and teachers that would help guide instruction. When an exhaustive search didn’t produce such a tool, they rolled up their sleeves and began the difficult process of creating an analytic scoring system that would be valid, honest, and practical.
After evaluating thousands of papers at all grade levels, the teachers identified common characteristics of good writing. These qualities became the framework for the six-trait analytical model. The model uses common language to identify the traits year to year as we refine our idea of what “good” writing looks like by using the scoring guides.
Not everyone uses the 6 + 1 Trait® model: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation. Some use four; some use more. These same six (or seven) characteristics show up on everyone’s list in one form or another. The 6 + 1 Trait® components are the foundation for the NWREL’s writing assessment model and we use the basics for the descriptive criteria to define the qualities of good writing at different levels of achievement. Once teachers know the traits well and have good consistency between rates and amongst groups, the link to instruction becomes clear. This is where the real fun begins.
The 6 + 1 Trait® Writing model is now used in virtually every state in the country not to mention Great Britain, France, South American, China, Venezuela, Bahrain, Australia, Turkey, and the Middle East. It is the model or the source of the model used to score student papers in numerous state assessments and district assessments in virtually every state. Teachers from primary though college have embraced the 6 + 1 Trait® model as well as teachers of mathematics, science, social studies, foreign languages, art, and music- anyone for whom writing is an important part of instruction.
The goal of the Summit School of Ahwatukee literacy program is to develop lifelong readers who read for a variety of purposes, and to grow strategic readers who are able to employ techniques in order to understand what they are reading.
Our balanced literacy program provides individualized attention and instruction to every student. Students thrive in small reading groups of three to six children. They read books specifically chosen for them at their current instructional level. A reading specialist joins the classroom teachers as part of our reading program.
As a result of the small reading groups and the individual attention it allows, there is no limit on what children can achieve.
They develop strong reading, comprehension and strategies for deeper thinking, as well as a lifelong love of reading.
The Summit School of Ahwatukee elementary math program is based on Math Expressions by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
This program offers students a broad background in math concepts, reinforced through a significant amount of dynamic, hands-on, interactive activities.
Children in first through sixth grades are pre-assessed before each new unit of study and are placed, for that unit, in either the grade-level or accelerated paced group. With ability grouping, hands-on learning, and small class sizes, our students successfully learn and retain math concepts at advanced levels.
This math program is distinguished by a number of features which include:
Real-life Applications Throughout each unit, real-world situations are incorporated. Numbers, skills, and mathematical concepts are not presented in isolation, but are linked to contexts that are relevant to everyday lives. The curriculum also provides numerous suggestions for incorporating math into daily classroom routines and other subject areas.
Problem Solving A variety of problem-solving approaches are emphasized to allow students to investigate and understand mathematical concepts. Problems are formulated through everyday situations and are solved by interpreting results and applying learned strategies. As a result, confidence is acquired in using mathematics meaningfully.
Balanced Instruction Each lesson includes time for whole-group instruction as well as small group, partner, or individual activities. These activities balance teacher-directed instruction with more opportunities for open-ended, hands-on explorations, long-term projects, and ongoing practice.
Multiple Methods for Basic Skills Practice Numerous methods for basic skills practice and review are provided. Summit emphasizes learning through a wide variety of math games, written and choral fact drills, mental math, math boxes (daily sets of review problems), homework, and timed tests.
Emphasis on Communication Throughout the curriculum, students are encouraged to explain and discuss their mathematical thinking in their own words. Opportunities to verbalize their thoughts and strategies give children the chance to clarify their reasoning and gain insights from others.
Home / School Partnerships For grades first to third, daily home learning provides opportunities for family members to participate in students’ mathematical learning. Take-home packets are provided for most lessons in grades four to six.
Social studies is taught based on developmentally appropriate themes for grade two. The Summit social studies program utilizes the History Alive program which is experiential in nature. It is designed to connect with students on many levels and to teach to their multiple intelligences while also teaching children the necessary skills for cooperative group work.
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 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 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.
The Summit School of Ahwatukee science program supports learning at multiple levels. The Summit science courses are taught in a state of art science laboratory facility with science stations, microscopes and all necessary tools to make science engaging and fun. The second grade science curriculum is based on the following themes: famous scientists, body systems, states of matter, weather and science fair projects.
Second graders expand their basic computer skills during the year. They learn to access the network, and find and save files in their personal folders. Students do a number of word processing activities during the year. They also do simple research, start to learn about Internet safety, and are exposed to Excel spreadsheets. Classroom themes are integrated in projects, and they learn how to make more advanced slide shows in PowerPoint.
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.
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.
An Example of a thematic learning project in second grade:
Summit School of Ahwatukee second-graders learn to run a business Written by Coty Dolores Miranda; Special for the Ahwatukee Republic, March 8, 2010
Entrepreneurship and philanthropy aren’t typical subjects for second-grade students, but they’re part of a day’s work for the second graders at Summit School in Ahwatukee.
As part of a “Business in Our Community” segment, students, aged 7 and 8, initiated a business plan, procured a bank loan, with collateral, purchased products, set up assembly lines to package snack bags, advertised and sold their wares.
Now, after repaying their loan, the classes will vote to determine what area charity will benefit from their profits.
“I think this teaches us how businesses should be,” said Marcee, a student in teacher Dawn Anderson’s classroom. Marcee was involved in several aspects of her class’s assembly of Tiger Terrific snack bags. “I was a chocolate scooper, a popcorn scooper and label maker,” she said proudly. “I liked doing lots of different things.”
Classmate Harrison’s job was production line inspector. “I had to check and make sure everything was in there,” he said of the mix containing popcorn, goldfish, chocolate chips and gummy bears.
Anderson’s classroom assembled 320 Tiger Terrific bags. “They just kept wanting to make more to sell,” said Anderson, a Summit School teacher the last nine years. “They’re really enthusiastic about this.”
In teacher Molly Danforth’s classroom, Magic Mix – a colorful blend of pretzels, cheese balls and gummy bears – was the snack bag product.
Christopher, 7, said touring the local Safeway store to see how products were delivered and positioned for sale was his favorite part of the month-long project. “I liked that we could go into areas we don’t usually get to see,” he said. “We got to see the meat grinding, the freezer and the vegetable place. Everything was delivered by trucks.”
The entire process – from researching what products to sell, advertising, and sales, determining gross and net profits – exposes the students to many disciplines, Anderson said.
Besides the myriad math skills needed for the project, second graders also made bar graphs to illustrate tallies of product and sales and in computer class, and then transferred them to Excel spreadsheets.
“This is such a great project and represents the depth we go for meaningful, experiential learning,” said Kathy Covert, Summit School spokeswoman as she watched Osasere and John selling the 50-cent snack bags to passersby in front of the school prior to the opening bell.
Once the profits from the 1,330 bags of both products are tallied, the students will move on to their role as community philanthropists; the combined classes vote on which nonprofit will benefit from their largesse. In past years, proceeds have benefited the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Gabriel’s Angels Therapy and the Maricopa County Animal Shelter. And the kids’ effort involves more than just writing a check: last year students personally delivered dog food to the animal shelter.
Summit School of Ahwatukee has two first grade classes with a maximum of 18 students per class with one teacher. Students are escorted to art, Spanish, music, science, technology, physical education, and library. Student time in specialized classes allows classroom teachers to plan during the school day, evaluate work, and modify lesson plans when necessary in order to meet the needs of each child. Classrooms are open and ready to welcome children and parents at 8am. Class officially begins at 8:15. These fifteen minutes allow families to get to know each other, enhancing the community feel and fabric of our school. The school day ends at 3:15 daily.
First grade students enjoy daily morning and lunch recesses, allowing them breaks to refresh and prepare them for more learning. Children in all grade levels are encouraged to bring a morning snack in addition to a healthy lunch.
Get to Know - 2nd Grade Faculty
Second Grade Teacher
Dawn Anderson has over 30 years of teaching experience. She earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Education from Southwest Missouri State University, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and holds a lifetime teaching certificate in Missouri. In 1983, she received a Masters degree in Reading and has earned a reading endorsement. Mrs. Anderson joined Summit in 2002.
Mrs. Anderson has taught first through third grades. Teaching has been her passion and her life. She attends many teacher workshops to enhance her second grade curriculum, including: Marilyn Burns’ Teaching Mathematics, Teaching Reading and Writing Workshops, and a conference for first and second grade teachers about enriching the classroom’s Language Arts program. She enjoys working with her students and watching them grow physically and academically. The second grade team has many wonderful thematic units that engage the students to be creative, work together cooperatively and to be successful problem solvers. Let the learning begin!
Second Grade Teacher
Molly Danforth has twenty years of teaching experience, and has taught first through third grades. She loves to teach all subjects and has a passion for teaching Geography! Her first degree was a Bachelor’s in Education from Gonzaga University. She then went on to earn a Masters’ in Education in 1997 at Northern Arizona University, and a Reading Endorsement in 2002 from Arizona State University. Her biggest accomplishment was becoming National Board Certified in 2004. Ms. Danforth joined Summit in 2007.
Literacy Specialist, Preschool through Third Grade
Faith Angelakis contributes significant experience and education to supporting students and teachers in Summit’s exceptional reading program. She works directly with students in grade level classrooms, teaching reading to small groups of students, where each student is instructed at his or her instructional reading level.
Using her twenty one years of teaching experience, Ms. Angelakis works with teachers to help them continue to develop professionally, modeling lessons for teachers, or team-teaching units. She helps teachers plan literacy instruction for the year, and provides professional reading materials about the most recent teaching techniques. Through collaborative efforts with grade level teachers, she leads the school’s literacy team to continually update and enhance our literacy program.
A graduate of Boston College with a BA in English and Philosophy, Ms. Angelakis continued her education, earning a Master’s Degree and a teaching certificate in Elementary Education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Ms. Angelakis began her teaching career as a classroom teacher for second, third, and fourth grades in Connecticut, joining Summit in 2006. Ms. Angelakis has a Reading Specialist endorsement and a full Structured English Immersion endorsement. Additionally, she is CLIP (Collaborative Literacy Intervention Project) certified. Throughout her career, Ms. Angelakis has been dedicated to her continuing education and has attended and presented at many professional development workshops.