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
- Accelerated Reader Program
- Innovations Lab
- Language & Literacy
- Library & Media Center
- Reading Workshop
- Social Studies & History
- Theatre Arts
- Visual Arts
- World Language
Accelerated Reader Program
The Library is intentional in utilizing motivational strategies for our readers. The Accelerated Reading Program (AR Lab) gamifies reading and allows students to earn points for passing reading comprehension tests for finished books. The Awards Book Club, Summer Reading Program and Spring Reading Incentive are additional programs used to encourage readers and reward groups and individuals alike for specific reading accomplishments. We recognize there is no one-size-fits-all incentive structure and therefore implement a variety of strategies throughout the year to meet students where they are. The Library advocates for all readers and stories. It is a place where connections are made, individual thought is celebrated, and creativity blooms.
Students use the iLab to explore, innovate and design using low- and high-tech tools to accomplish curricular goals. They learn how to solve problems using The Engineer Process to Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve and Present. Utilizing a mix of materials and/or everyday items, students are encouraged to become an integral team member and turn real world exploration into tangible solutions.
Language & Literacy
Our language and literacy curriculum is systematic, explicit and sequential, allowing students to experience growth from the very beginning of the school year. Students are immersed in multi-faceted reading instruction daily.
Teacher employ many different techniques to engage all types of learners, including whole and small-group instruction. Teachers also utilize and adapt many different resources including Saxon Phonics, Reading Workshop and Writing Workshop, among other materials, to provide an enriching language experience for students.
Literacy Instructional Coaching staff work with teachers and students to provide opportunities to accelerate and/or bring special focus to a specific content area. The staff work as partners to ensure there is room for all levels of learning and every student can grow confidently in their knowledge.
Reading instruction includes teaching students the elements of both fiction and non-fiction. Writing instruction includes work in different genres (narrative, informational and opinion/persuasive). Students in the Lower School learn that in order to be a good communication, they must understand the mechanics of language through spelling, phonics, grammar and vocabulary.
At HIES, we strive to provide enrichment opportunities to challenge our learners. Throughout the year, lunch time book clubs are offered to our 4th and 5th graders to encourage and foster a love of reading and fellowship. During the first semester, our 5th graders compete in the school spelling bee. The winner advances to the regional round of the Scripps National Competition. During the second semester, 3rd - 5th grade students have the opportunity to compete in our version of America's Battle of the Books, an optional reading incentive program.
Library & Media Center
Each homeroom has a dedicated weekly Library class with dynamic programming tailored around various components of literacy, culture, language, and literature. The Library serves as an extension of the classroom by curating supplemental materials, providing research instruction and creating authentic learning experiences tied to specific projects and units. Collaboration with educators across disciplines and divisions elevates the educational experience for all. We strive to spark a healthy curiosity and empower learners to explore information critically and ethically. The library collection is informed by a combination of factors to include relevance, popularity, critical acclaim, genre, history, writing style, reading levels, community, point-of-view, illustration quality and the personal tastes of our readers. We strive for representation across cultures, religions, race, ethnicity, families, heritage, experiences, and perspectives. The Windows and Mirrors strategy is utilized to help students not only see themselves reflected in stories but as a way to peek into the lives and experiences of others. This process builds empathy and enhances their sense of community and responsibility.
All grades in the Lower School use Singapore Math and Building Fact Fluency programs. Our approach is to make math instruction interactive, thought-provoking and appealing to all students by creating an engaging learning environment, while making real-world connections. We foster confidence in our students by building a strong foundation and a deeper understanding of math processes in order to develop mathematical thinkers and innovative problem solvers.
With the Singapore method, each math problem is part of a growing framework of knowledge and students are able to put what they are learning into context. As students progress from year to year, Singapore math also returns to core topics with increasing depth in order to create an intentional pattern of scope and sequence. The Singapore curriculum also teaches students to use mental math, which enables them to solve more complicated problems quickly. Students build an understanding of how math connects to various disciplines, careers and our daily life. Teacher use direct instruction, technology, games, manipulatives and independent practice to reach all students and their learning styles.
A parent looking at Singapore math will see a focus on core techniques, like place value, bar modeling and number bonds, rather than teaching students to use lots of different strategies to solve a problem. There are a number of different ways to approach any math problem, but focusing on all of them can be overwhelming. Singapore chooses a few strategies that work, which allows students to focus on the math itself, rather than all of the procedures that could be used.
Dimensions Math by Singapore teaches students mathematical concepts in a 3-stage learning process: concrete, pictorial and abstract. In Dimensions Math, students must think through concepts and apply them in new ways from the very start. Since they can't rely on simple replication, students are pushed to greater engagement and broader thinking. Singapore Math not only helps students become more successful problem solvers, it helps them gain a sense of confidence and resourcefulness because it insists on conceptual depth. This naturally prepares students to excel in more advanced math.
Additionally, we use Building Fact Fluency as a supplementary resource to help students develop number sense on the way to fluency, using engaging tasks and activities. The combination of these different resources creates a strong dynamic math program that will continue to reinforce the student on their math journey.
Math Instructional Coaching staff work with teachers and students to provide opportunities to accelerate and/or bring special focus to a specific content area. The staff work as partners to ensure there is room for all levels of learning and every student can grow confidently in their knowledge.
General Music (1st & 2nd grades)
First and Second Grade students are taught how to use their singing voice and enjoy all aspects of the elementary music curriculum: singing, dancing, and moving to music, listening to music, analyzing music, and relating it to various cultures and historical contexts in a General Music Class. These students learn to appreciate many different types of music, including folk, classical, world, and popular music. Through hands-on activities and games they begin to learn how to read simple rhythms and melodies. An emphasis is placed on singing and playing instruments, borrowing the best from the methodologies of Orff and Kodaly, enabling students to develop a solid sense of rhythm, melody, and harmony. Working in collaboration with the Theatre Arts Department students participate in grade level performances throughout the year.
Chorus (3rd - 5th grades)
Chorus is a performing ensemble where students explore their love of music through singing! Students learn to sing in harmony in a group setting. Music literacy skills and ear-training skills are taught concurrently with proper vocal technique. Students learn to develop their posture, tone, choral blend, and how to care for their voice. Students prepare and memorize music in a variety of styles and languages. A highlight of the Chorus year includes performing a traditional service of Lessons and Carols, a beloved Lower School tradition. The songs learned in Chorus will start to build the repertoire of music that students will know and love for the rest of their lives. Using varied curricula, careful planning, meaningful weekly rehearsals, and performance opportunities, students are given experiences that will encourage them to be productive members of society and supporters of the arts.
Orchestra (3rd - 5th grades)
The Holy Innocents’ String Orchestra (Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass) is a performance ensemble designed to guide students in string technique, music literacy, composition and performance. Through ongoing practice, students gain confidence as solo performers and as team members of the orchestra. Students experience the art and joy of performing music together, realizing that their unique contributions are an important part of the whole. In orchestra, students will learn the “language of music” and string technique in diverse and creative ways. Through more personalized instruction, use of technology, playful activities and different performing opportunities, students will become familiar with the routine of being a true musician.
Band (4th & 5th grades)
Band is for those who would like to extend their love of music into learning a woodwind, brass, or percussion instrument. Students will learn how to read and write musical notation on their path towards music literacy. Being a band member allows students to enjoy building musical skills while also developing deep social connections within the group as they hone their ability to play musically together. In the 4th Grade, all students will begin playing recorder and then transition to woodwind or brass instruments. The band directors work with students to find the instrument that best appeals to them.
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.
The Lower School science program consists of an inquiry-based, hands-on approach to learning and discovering and making science relate to everyday life. 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, teachers serve as facilitators, rather than lecturers, so as to encourage students to take ownership of their learning. Students participate in discussions, collaborative activities, and experiments that take them through the scientific method and the engineering design process that covers Earth, Space, Physical and Life Sciences.
Social Studies & History
Social Studies is an engaging part of the Lower School curriculum because it is where students learn historical information and make sense of what they are learning. Social Studies is an integrated project approach that allows children to participate in planning, discovering, researching, and sharing information.
Starting on a local level and expanding to our state, country, continent, and planet, students will be immersed in the process of learning about the world. Using a hands-on approach, students will learn about community, states, maps, globes, early explorers, government, presidents, and current events. Topics are reinforced through field trips, community resources, school performances, and student engagement. At Holy Innocents’, students are challenged to focus on cause and effect, relationships, and application of concepts.
Students explore their creative talents while simultaneously developing their communication skills, collaborative abilities, and improving self-confidence. The Theatre Arts curriculum seeks to support and supplement what is being presented to the students in traditional academic courses, including social studies, history, language arts, reading and literature through the conception, design, and performance of original and exciting programming. The benefits of this type of cross-curricular study are highly promoted as a vital part of a 21st century education, offering creative opportunities of engagement to a variety of learning profiles and styles.
Students in First through Fifth grade produce two and three dimensional art—both figurative and abstract, using creative-thinking and problem-solving in the process. Every student uses a variety of materials, media, and techniques to produce original works of art, and students are given the opportunity to discuss their work as well as the artwork of peers. We educate students on principles of design, elements of art, as well as, give them the tools, practice, and experience to build their technical skills, so they can best execute their creative ideas! Through our projects, we both develop technical skills and expose our students to a foundation in Art History.
The Lower School provides a semester each of French and Spanish for 1st through 5th grades.
The acquisition-driven classes foster understanding, curiosity, and openness to other cultures and languages. The goal is to create classes that are comprehensible, engaging, and compelling so that the student is excited to practice the language with confidence. The Lower School World Language classes mirror the child-centered approach in which all children learn their first language with songs, stories, games, and movement. Students learn French and Spanish in a natural, authentic, and enduring manner to lay a strong foundation for future language development.
Beyond the Books in the Lower School
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.
The Lower School Physical Education Program is designed to engage students through a wide variety of movement opportunities, to build a knowledge and skill base to advance from pre-control to control levels (1st & 2nd grades), to utilization & proficiency (3rd-5th grades), in both individual and group settings. Students will be able to each of enjoy and seek out physical activity, develop and maintain acceptable levels of physical fitness, develop a variety of basic movement and manipulative skills. Students will develop the ability to share space and equipment, display kindness, sportsmanship and demonstrate cooperative behavior while experiencing success and confidence in physical activity pursuits. Students attend Physical Education class every other day.
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.
Episcopal School Values in the Lower School
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.
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.
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.
Nurturing the needs of the whole child -- academic, social, emotional, physical and spiritual -- is critical to student success and develops core social-emotional competencies necessary for healthy relationships and personal growth. Using classroom management and teaching strategies from the Responsive Classroomapproach, our teachers foster classroom communities built on the key tenets of cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, self-control, and empathy. In our daily instructional practices, we promote a set of academic competencies including academic mindset, perseverance, and learning strategies. HIES students additionally develop skills such as emotional literacy, resiliency, and problem-solving through lessons with our school counselor, homeroom teachers and co-curricular teachers.