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Explore Curriculum, Beyond the Books and Episcopal Values at the Lower School at HIES

Jump to Beyond the Books in the Lower School or Episcopal Values in the Lower School

Curriculum in the Lower School 

Language & Literacy

First through third grade uses Saxon Phonics and Spelling, a curriculum which focuses on building a strong foundation of phonics, in order for students to become successful readers and writers. First and Second Grade students at HIES are immersed in multi-faceted reading instruction daily. These children are carefully placed in smaller reading groups that meet each child's individual literacy levels. Our reading instruction is systematic, explicit and sequential, allowing children to experience growth from the very beginning of the school year. Beginning in Second Grade, the reading program becomes more literature-based, with each class reading and studying novels throughout the year. Novels are used to teach comprehension strategies, reading skills and vocabulary.

In addition to a study of literature, vocabulary and grammar are taught through the use of the Vocabulary Workshop and Grammar Workshop series. Although workbooks are used for skill practice, vocabulary and grammar are emphasized through reading and writing across the curriculum.

Throughout the Lower School years, advanced grammatical concepts are reinforced through a variety of reading and writing activities. Grammar rules are taught and practiced through the book, Grammar Workshop.

Lower School students write across the curriculum. Students practice their writing and presentation skills and more emphasis is placed on reading comprehension and analysis. Writing is done in as many different forms as possible: poetry, persuasive, expository, narrative and free writing in journals.

Readers Workshop

Students in first through third grades engage in Reader’s Workshop lessons with the Lower School Reading Specialist, during which they will focus on the skills and strategies necessary for building a love of reading.  When a child can find books that fit “just-right”, make personal connections to books, make connections between books, predict what will happen next in a story, note important details and information in a text, and make inferences while reading, not only does their confidence as a reader build, but the enjoyment of reading grows.  Students spend the majority of Reader’s Workshop reading a book of their choice, either independently, with a reading partner, or in a book club. As the students read, teachers conference with individual readers to help specific student needs. Readers are encouraged to share their thinking with a reading partner, book club, or the class as a whole.  This allows the opportunity for students to practice sharing ideas, collaborating, and discussing opposing viewpoints.

Innovations Lab

The Lower School Innovations Lab replaces the "computer lab." In this cutting-edge program, students will use a variety of technology-based tools to create, collaborate, code, design, produce and contribute for a larger audience. All students in grades 1-5 will have access to and experience with laptops, iPads, desktops and mini robots. The classroom 3D-Printer assists students in completing tasks and challenges. With an emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving, students will determine which tool is best for the task at hand.

Accelerated Reader Program

The ability to read well is vital to a child’s development. Students who read enthusiastically tend to have greater self-confidence and excel in every area of learning. A computer-based program combining carefully selected books with easy to use software, the Accelerated Reader Program is a proven tool used to motivate students to read. The software tests comprehension and records performance, allowing each student to move at his or her own pace and skill set. Immediate feedback, positive reinforcement, current children’s literature and a love for reading make the AR program an overwhelming success. The HIES Accelerated Reader (AR) Lab has over 150,000 titles available to students in first through fifth grades.

World Language

All Lower School students have instruction in both French and Spanish. The Lower School foreign language program is designed to be fun, to mimic primary language acquisition and to feed into the foreign language programs in the Middle and Upper Schools.

The TPRS (Total Physical Response Storytelling) methodology, used in grades one through five, provides students with an enormous amount of comprehensible oral language and allows them to absorb language patterns, rules and vocabulary well before they are expected to express themselves in the target language. In the lower grades (first through third), the program is largely oral, focusing on communicating in the language, learning vocabulary and storytelling. Reading and writing are introduced in the fourth and fifth grades when the children are more confident in their English reading and writing skills.

Social Studies & History

Lower School students begin in first grade with and exploration of the communities in which they live, and the world surrounding them. This concept of "global community" is reinforced through the continued nurturing of positive self-concept within the students, and discussion of rules and laws. A strong emphasis is placed on acceptance of, and respect for, differences. This also allows for a more in-depth exploration of the concept of patriotism, and a better understanding of the cultural and geographic makeup of the United States.

As students progress through the Lower School grades, they will encounter an emphasis on map skills, geography, the environment and natural resources. Fourth and fifth grades take the next steps into exploration of the roots of United States history, taking the initial studies of exploration from earlier grades and begin to explore the ramifications of these events in more depth. In fifth grade, students will begin their year in history understanding the Constitution and the early foundations of our government. Students learn about people, battles, and events of war, reconstruction, immigration and westward expansion, culminating in the United States’ involvement in World War I and World War II.

At Holy Innocents’, history is not about memorizing a bag of facts, rather, students are called to focus on cause and effect, relationships and overarching concepts.

Math

All grades in the Lower School use the math series, enVisionMATH published by Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley. This curriculum promotes critical thinking through math stories, math journaling and other problem-solving activities. Critical thinking is used throughout the series as a way to encourage students to think about the process and not just the answer. Writing is a component of the curriculum, allowing students to explain how or why they derive an answer in a particular manner.

Beginning in first grade, this curriculum provides an introduction to the basic concepts of operations, patterns, measurement, time and money, and even algebra, geometry and statistics. By learning and practicing these fundamentals, students have a solid foundation to be built upon as they encounter mathematics in a more abstract realm as they progress through Lower School.

21st century tools, coupled with use of technology, provide unique opportunities to problem solve and build a deeper conceptual understand and fluency. Starting in kindergarten, HIES students engage with a web based IXL program. Each student has an individual login for instructional assignments, independent practice and concept reinforcement.

Science

All Lower School Science classes take place in a Science Lab on the Lower School STEM Hallway. At Holy Innocents’ we feel that children learn science concepts best by doing science in a hands-on approach. Using the FOSS Curriculum as a primary curriculum resource, our students, at every grade level, will perform investigations, experiments, gather data, organize results and draw conclusions based on their own work. Within this type of Science classroom, teachers serve as facilitators, rather than lecturers, so as to encourage students to make discoveries and take ownership of their work.

First through fifth grade students will maintain an interactive science notebook where they will document their work, experiments and vocabulary. Incorporating Language Arts into the science curriculum serves to improve students writing skills even across disciplines.

Physical Education

The mission of the Physical Education Department at HIES is to provide each child with the skills and attitudes needed to enjoy a healthy and active life. The program is designed to teach the concepts of movement and fitness to every student in a challenging and affirming environment. Lessons in basic space awareness, social awareness, physical fitness, motor skills, balance, tumbling, as well as throwing and kicking are practiced. More advanced tasks are added, such as modified games, track and field, volleying and dribbling a ball. Lower School children also learn about strategies and conditioning for game play. They develop individual skills, as well as improved social relationships.

Global Faith & Service

Global Faith and Service (GFS) class is based directly on our school mission statement. It is co-taught by a member of our Lower School faculty and our lower School chaplain. This course serves first through fifth grades and emphasizes “head, heart, hands” (knowledge, character, skills) while exploring themes of faith, identity, community and service learning in the context of Episcopal and other traditions. Students learn about God and are encouraged to develop a loving and personal relationship with God. Students explore and respectfully celebrate religious and cultural differences. We celebrate both the things we have in common and our differences. We celebrate the wonder and dignity of each individual. Service learning is an integral component of the class and empowers students to develop understanding and empathy for unfortunate and challenging human, social and environmental circumstances. With the help of our “global glasses,” we identify people and places in our world that need help and healing and take action to serve those communities with meaningful service projects we identify together. 

Fine Arts

General Music

Required for all students in grands 1-2, this course focuses on developing basic musical skills through movement, use of instruments, singing and listening to all types of music.

Chorus

A performance-based course designed for those who would like to learn to sing in harmony in a group setting. Music literacy skills and ear-training skills are taught concurrently with proper vocal technique (posture, tone, choral blend, and voice care), using a variety of manipulatives, worksheets, and actual choral music.

Orchestra

Offered in grades 3-5, students are introduced to string instruments (violin, viola, cello or bass) and the foundation is built for music performance. Fourth grade string students may participate in the Georgia Music Educators Association events at the discretion of the teacher. This orchestra performs in several concerts during the academic year. Daily home practice is required for mastery of the music performance skills. The third-year string orchestra class in fifth grade builds on the foundations of technique and music literacy study achieved in fourth grade, enabling the students to become confident solo, and, ensemble performers. The Fifth-Grade Orchestra is assigned GMEA level 2 to 2+ literature and is challenged to further increase playing skills through a regimen of home practice, classes and large group rehearsals. Fifth Grade String Orchestra students are eligible for participation in the Georgia Music Educators Association Performance Evaluation events and perform in several concerts during the academic year.

Band

This course is for those who wish to learn to play flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, French horn, baritone horn, tuba, or percussion. Music literacy skills are taught concurrently with instrumental technique (posture, embouchure, hand positions, sticking and keyboard skills), utilizing an eclectic curriculum of method book, ear training, rhythm supplements, and ability-appropriate band music.

Theatre Arts

Performance is something that provides theatre artists with great feelings of joy, accomplishment and pride. Through lessons and various performance projects throughout the year, students will learn that a theatrical performance is a gift given to an audience. Students in grades 1-5 will have multiple performances throughout the school year, either as a class or the entire grade level.

Fifth grade is a special year for students. In addition to several smaller group performances, the highlight of Fifth Grade Theatre is the opportunity to perform in the Fifth-Grade musical production. This is performed over the course of multiple nights for family and friends, as well as a special performance for the entire Lower School.

Visual Arts

The classes work with a variety of media including clay, drawing, painting, watercolor and collage. Equal emphasis is placed on 2D and 3D work to give students a chance to excel in different areas. Most projects involve some aspect of drawing from observation. The children are introduced to art history when appropriate through imitation of a particular artist or cultural style. Picture files are an invaluable resource available to all children for extra reinforcement on any project. Art students in grades 4-5 study the elements of art and learn to apply this knowledge in drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Introduction to computer graphic design is a part of their study. Lessons in art history and the works of famous artists will be explored through students’ experience with mixed media.

 

 

Beyond the Books in the Lower School

Project-Based Learning

Every student engages in creative transdisciplinary projects to answer essential questions and solve real world problems, implementing the Project-Based Learning methodology. As our students work together, over and extended period of time, not only are they enhancing their content knowledge, they are building and practicing the lifelong skills of collaboration and communication.

Young Engineers

This monthly first grade class is modeled after the design thinking process, focusing on collaboration and critical thinking skills. Students are given a complex and interactive problem and are asked to work together to solve it as a team. The collaboration piece of this task is of equal importance to the task itself. Students are challenged to “think outside of the box” and to work together toward a common goal.

Mentone

Every year, the fifth grade ventures off campus to Nature’s Classroom in Mentone, Ala. for their annual overnight retreat. This opportunity to step outside of the regular classroom, engage in a variety team building activities, hike and enjoy the ropes course serves as a wonderful way to draw the grade together.

Innovations Lab

The Lower School Innovations Lab replaces the "computer lab". In this cutting-edge program, students will use a variety of technology-based tools to create, collaborate, code, design, produce and contribute for a larger audience. All students in grades 1-5 will have access to and experience with laptops, iPads, desktops and mini robots. The classroom 3D-Printer assists students in completing tasks and challenges. With an emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving, students will determine which tool is best for the task at hand.

Community Service

Lower School service learning includes classroom service activities as well as group experiences giving the students opportunities to serve others in the community. Corporate relationships include the Shepherd Center, Atlanta Community Food Bank and the Community Action Center.

Field Trips

High Museum

Cobb Energy Center

Center for Puppetry Arts

Children’s Museum

Stone Mountain

Alliance Theater

Tellus Museum

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

The Capital

Fernbank Museum

Atlanta Community Food Bank

Cobb County Youth Museum

Breman Holocaust Museum

National Center for Civil & Human Rights

LS Community Service
Students at Space and Rocket Museum

 

Episcopal School Values in the Lower School

Chapel

At a Holy Innocents’ chapel service, each student is called to celebrate and share the radical loving presence of God, as we gather together in prayer. In essence, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School is a praying school! We are a school community of faith that encounters the Living God through the proclamation and sharing of His Word in all divisions. We pray for ourselves; we pray for one another; we pray for the world, and we pray especially that the good gifts we have received will empower us to be a blessing to others.

The entire Lower School gathers as a community each week to reflect on what it means to be children of God, to be good citizens, to act in service to others and to live out our individual faith traditions.  Chapel services affirm both our Christian traditions and religious diversity. The Lower School chaplain leads chapel services, often with the help of the students themselves and parents are welcomed to attend.

Global Faith & Service

Global Faith and Service (GFS) class is based directly on our school mission statement. It is co-taught by a member of our Lower School faculty and our lower School chaplain. This course serves First through Fifth Grades and emphasizes “head, heart, hands” (knowledge, character, skills) while exploring themes of faith, identity, community and service learning in the context of Episcopal and other traditions. Students learn about God and are encouraged to develop a loving and personal relationship with God. Students explore and respectfully celebrate religious and cultural differences. We celebrate both the things we have in common and our differences. We celebrate the wonder and dignity of each individual. Service learning is an integral component of the class and empowers students to develop understanding and empathy for unfortunate and challenging human, social and environmental circumstances. With the help of our “global glasses,” we identify people and places in our world that need help and healing and take action to serve those communities with meaningful service projects we identify together. 

Community Service

Community Service is more than a graduation requirement at HIES. At HIES we believe you are never too young to make a difference in your community and the world. Lower School service learning includes classroom service activities as well as group experiences giving the students opportunities to serve others in the community. Corporate relationships include the Shepherd Center, Atlanta Community Food Bank and the Community Action Center.

Lower School Chapel
Lower School Chapel
Lower School Global Faith and Service