It is a pleasure to share our Curriculum in A Nutshell, a brief overview of all areas of the Kindergarten through Grade 5 West Hartford Curriculum. This brochure outlines the curriculum for your child’s respective grade in school. West Hartford’s comprehensive program is based on the Connecticut Core Standards and provides instruction on the essential literacy and mathematics skills and understandings necessary for success on both district and state assessments. The West Hartford curriculum also includes integration of visual and performing arts, science, social studies, physical education, world language (grades 3-5) and library media services.
This curriculum comes alive in the hands of our talented teachers who are committed to ensuring that our students reach their highest potential. We are dedicated to accommodating children’s diverse needs, the way they learn, their experiences and interests, and to facilitating continuous educational growth. If you should have any questions about your child’s curriculum, your classroom teacher is the best source of information.
No single document can fully explain the rich and complex nature of the school curriculum and instructional goals. We know that learning is optimized in a partnership with families, teachers, and schools. Working together, we can use your experiences as a family and our work in the classroom to create a respectful climate of academic success and joy for lifelong learning.
Paul W. Vicinus, Jr.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Visual Arts
- Physical Education
- Library Media Services
Your child will be working to develop his or her understanding and mastery of Kindergarten Connecticut Core Standards in English-Language Arts. These standards integrate all aspects of Language Arts development and are categorized under Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening, and Language. Your child’s teacher will use a wide variety of instructional strategies and formats to help your child learn and progress toward mastery of these standards by the end of the school year.
Apply Concepts about Print
- Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print by following words-left to right, top to bottom, page by page.
- Understand that spoken words are printed in written language.
- Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.
- Recognize and name all upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet.
Demonstrate Phonological Awareness (the ability to manipulate sounds orally)
- Recognize and produce rhymes.
- Understand words are made of syllables that can be put together and taken apart.
- Blend and segment onsets and rimes (/b/-/at/ says “bat”).
- Identify beginning, middle, and ending sounds.
- Substitute beginning, middle, and ending sounds to make new words (cat, cap).
Apply Phonics and Word Recognition Skills
- Produce the correct sound for each letter including short and long vowel sounds.
- Read kindergarten sight words automatically.
- Distinguish between similarly spelled words (map/mop, hat/ ham, tim/tip).
Read with Fluency
- Read familiar and emergent texts with purpose and understanding.
Identify Key Ideas and Details
- Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding in fiction and nonfiction texts.
- Identify main idea and retell familiar stories with key details.
- Identify character, setting, and major events in stories.
- Describe connection between two individuals, events, or ideas in informational texts.
Understand the Structure of Texts
- Ask and answer questions about unknown words.
- Recognize common types of texts (storybooks, poems, etc.)
- Identify author and illustrator and define their roles.
- Identify parts of a book (cover, title page).
Integrate Knowledge and Ideas Within and Across Texts
- Recognize that illustrations complement and add to the meaning of text.
- Compare/contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories.
- Identify reason an author gives to support points in an informational text.
- Identify the similarities and differences between two informational texts on the same topic.
Read and Comprehend a Range of Texts with Appropriate Grade Level Complexity
- Engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding
- Print uppercase and lowercase letters.
- Use frequently occurring nouns and verbs.
- Form plural nouns.
- Understand and use question words.
- Use common prepositions (from, in, out, on, off).
- Speak in complete sentences.
- Capitalize the beginning of sentences and the pronoun “I”.
- Recognize and name end punctuation.
- Spell simple words phonetically with a beginning, middle, and end (i.e., mtn=mitten).
Understand and Use Grade Appropriate Vocabulary
- Use the context of a story to identify the meaning of words.
- Use the knowledge of prefixes and suffixes to understand the meaning of a word.
- Sort common objects into categories.
- Understand word opposites.
- Identify real life connections between words and their use.
- Act out similar verbs (walk, strut, march).
- Utilize acquired vocabulary from reading and conversation.
Teachers use the Writers’ Workshop model to plan the following narrative, information, and opinion writing units:
Narrative: Launching the Writing Workshop and Writing for Readers
Information: How-To Books Opinion Writing: Persuasive Writing of All Kinds
Each writing block includes a short mini-lesson focusing on the writing process, writing conventions, and/or craft. Students then work on assigned or self-selected writing pieces as teachers confer with students either individually or in small groups. The workshop lesson closes with sharing time during which students celebrate and reflect on their writing and the writing process.
Teachers use Fundations to teach the following skills:
- Correct posture, paper position, and pencil grip.
- Engage in a variety of fine motor activities using pencils, markers, crayons, playdough, and scissors.
- Write the upper- and lower-case manuscript alphabet with proper letter formation.
- Write name using upper- and lower-case letters.
Keyboarding in grades PreK-1 focuses on keyboarding awareness skills such as left and right hand keys, and the location of alphabetic keys as well as the operation of the space bar, enter, and backspace keys. Proper technique and posture are emphasized at all grade levels.
Speaking And Listening
Participate in Collaborative Conversations with Understanding about Kindergarten Topics and Texts
- Follow rules for discussion.
- Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges.
- Confirm understanding through questioning and request clarification if needed.
Present Knowledge and Ideas Clearly
- Describe familiar people, places, things, and events to provide additional detail.
- Add drawings to provide additional detail.
- Speak audibly and clearly
Our mathematics curriculum is based on the Connecticut Core Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M) that define what students should understand and be able to do by the end of the year at each grade level. The Connecticut Core Standards for Mathematics have two key components:
- Standards for Mathematical Practice – eight practices in which students engage at all grade levels
- Standards for Mathematical Content – conceptual understandings and procedural knowledge and skills
The Content Standards at each grade level are grouped into domains (e.g. Geometry) and clusters within each domain.
Our main instructional focus in Kindergarten is on representing, relating and operating on whole numbers, initially with sets of objects. An additional area of focus is on describing shapes and space. To provide you with an understanding of your child’s mathematics learning this year, we have highlighted domains and clusters of standards for Kindergarten below. A comprehensive description of the Connecticut Core Standards for Mathematics is available at http://www.corestandards.org/.
- Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
- Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
- Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
- Model with mathematics.
- Use appropriate tools strategically.
- Attend to precision.
- Look for and make use of structure.
- Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
Counting and Cardinality
- Know numbers, names and the count sequence.
- Count to 100 by ones and tens.
- Count forward beginning from a given number.
- Write numbers from 0 to 20.
- Count to tell the number of objects.
- Compare numbers.
- Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group.
- Compare two numbers between 1 and 10 presented as written numerals.
- Add/subtract within 5.
Operations and Algebraic Thinking
- Understand addition as putting together and adding to, and understand subtraction as taking apart and taking from.
Number and Operations in Base Ten
- Work with numbers 11-19 to gain foundations for place value.
Measurement and Data
- Describe and compare measurable attributes (length, weight)
- Example: Compare the heights of objects and describe one as taller/shorter.
- Classify objects and count the number of objects in categories.
- Identify and describe shapes.
- Describe objects using names of shapes and the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, next to.
- Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes.
The Social Studies curriculum was developed with guidance from the Connecticut Social Studies Framework passed by the State Board of Education in February 2015. This Connecticut framework provides a foundation for teaching history, civics and government, geography, and economics in all grade levels. A summary of the Civics and Geography skills studied in Kindergarten are below:
- Develop an understanding of self, social standards and rules, along with the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
- Develop a positive self-concept.
- Develop an understanding of rules and responsibilities within communities.
- Determine ways one can address problems individually and collectively to improve the communities to which we belong.
- Identify, understand, and regulate emotions of self and others.
- Develop positive interpersonal relationships.
- Instruction about Religion: Discussion of family holidays, celebrations, and traditions
- Explore maps and their purpose
- Identify where one lives and locate important places on current and historical maps.
- Use maps to identify important information using symbols, legends, and keys.
- Give and follow directions.
- Create a variety of maps.
In addition, as part of the English/Language Arts curriculum, students will participate in two Social Studies units. Students will explore the question Who Am I? by comparing themselves to fictional characters and each other. Students consider what makes them unique, how their own family is similar or different from other families, and why it is important to understand and appreciate differences in culture. Students also explore the question, What makes a community? by studying the most important places in a community or town and the people who help make that community or town a better place.
The newly re-designed Kindergarten Science curriculum is based on the K-12 Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) passed by the CT State Board of Education in November, 2015. This standards-based framework emphasizes learning experiences that provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to be well-informed citizens, to be prepared for college and careers, and to understand and appreciate the essential role of science in our community and our world.
In kindergarten, students develop an understanding of patterns and variations in local weather and the purpose of weather forecasting to prepare for, and respond to, severe weather. They explore the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object. Kindergarten students also formulate an understanding of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive and the relationship between their needs and where they live.
To demonstrate their understanding of the core ideas indicated above, kindergarten students engage in the following science and engineering practices:
Asking questions and defining problems
Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking
Constructing explanations and designing solutions
Engaging in argument from evidence
Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information
The Visual Arts Department promotes artistic development, fosters development of visual literacy, critical thinking skills, intellectual risktaking and lifelong learning. The curriculum is currently being revised using the National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) as a foundation. The program is grounded in developing student-centered experiences that promote meaningful discourse.
Understanding The Creative Process through the Visual Arts
Connecting / Exploring Culture through Concept and Skill
- Learn about landscape and still life; creating space (foreground, middleground, background)
- Explore author/illustrator, connecting to literacy and images
- Learn about the elements and principles of art such as shape, line and color as well as color theory and line directionality
- Exploration of a wide variety of cultures drawing from art history as well as current artists
- Discover connections to other subject matters such as science, math, and history
- Exploration of a variety of mediums in creative expression
- Drawing: a variety of techniques introduced in use of crayon, oil pastel, and watercolor pencils
- Painting: possible exploration of resist, watercolor, acrylic, tempera
- Three dimensional art: introduction of techniques used in sculpture such as relief, paper sculpture, found objects and clay
Responding / Critique and Aesthetic Discourse
- Participate in collaborative discussion about art using appropriate vocabulary
- Develop Visual Literacy skills about art and process in written artist’s intent or creative writing (poetry, story)
Singing is the foundation of all music skills in the elementary vocal music curriculum. Music skills are sequentially taught and divided into five content areas: melody, rhythm, reading and writing, part work and form, using grade appropriate songs, singing games and rounds.
- Sing in tune, clearly, alone and with others, e.g., greeting songs.
- Imitate simple melodic and rhythmic patterns.
- Move to and keep a steady beat.
- Develop reading readiness abilities.
- Listen to music with focused attention.
- Respond to music with movement.
- Use terminology in describing music, e.g., fast/slow; loud/soft.
- Identify ways in which other disciplines are interrelated with music.
- Sing songs and play games that explore cultural diversity, e.g., Mexico.
The Elementary Physical Education department strives to create physically literate students. At the elementary level, we ensure that students are exposed to foundational skills that they will build upon throughout their Physical Education experience in West Hartford Public Schools. Our curriculum is aligned to SHAPE AMERICA’s National Standards. Concepts that students will be engaged in are:
- Demonstrate good body control when performing locomotor and non-locomotor skills.
- Demonstrate developmentally appropriate manipulative skills using a variety of implements and different body parts.
- Apply movement concepts (e.g., space, speed) to movements.
- Perform simple rhythmic patterns involving creative or cultural dance movement.
- Participate in a variety of moderate to vigorous physical activities that promote fitness.
- Perform movement tasks (both on the floor and on the apparatus) that require creative or critical thinking.
- Demonstrate the physical, cognitive, and effective skills to participate in cooperative adventure activities.
The library media program in the elementary school provides the foundation skills for students to become critical users of information, and readers for lifelong learning. Standards for the 21st-Century Learner published by the American Association of School Librarians provides the framework for instruction. By the end of grade 5 students will:
Standard 1—Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge.
Find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions.
Read, view, and listen for information presented in any format (e.g., textual, visual, media, digital) in order to make inferences and gather meaning.
- Make sense of information gathered from diverse sources by identifying misconceptions, main and supporting ideas, conflicting information and point of view or bias.
- Demonstrate mastery of technology tools to access information and pursue inquiry.
Standard 2—Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge.
- Continue an inquiry-based research process by applying critical thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation, organization) to information and knowledge in order to construct new understandings, draw conclusions, and create new knowledge.
- Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.
- Use the writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings.
Standard 3—Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society.
- Conclude an inquiry-based research process by sharing new understandings and reflecting on the learning.
- Use information and technology ethically and responsibly.
- Contribute to the exchange of ideas within and beyond the learning community
Standard 4—Pursue personal and aesthetic growth.
- Respond to literature and creative expressions of ideas in various formats and genres.
- Show an appreciation for literature by electing to read for pleasure and expressing interest in various literary genres.
- Recognize characteristics of a safe home and school, and identify ways to prevent accidents, play safely, and use the Internet safely.
- Identify and distinguish between substances that are safe and unsafe (poison prevention).
- Identify trusted adults who can help them.
- Recognize and respect differences and similarities in the ways people think, act, learn, look, and live.
- Make healthy eating choices, including eating enough fruits and vegetables daily.
- Recognize their own feelings and others’ feelings and ways to show caring.
- Practice effective communication skills, including active listening and apologizing.
- Practice ways to manage strong feelings, including self-regulation techniques.
West Hartford Community Relations police officers assist in teaching some of these objectives.