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Program
Lower School (K-4)

Lower School Curriculum

Lower School Curriculum

List of 14 items.

  • Literacy

    At Graland we seek to foster a love of reading while ensuring students have the reading and writing skills necessary to be successful in all areas of the curriculum. Reading and discussing a variety of engaging and meaningful texts allows students to think critically, communicate effectively, and use literature to make sense of the wider world. Essential to our literacy program is high-quality children’s literature that reflects all student and family identities as well as offers a window into the diverse lives of people in communities near and far.

    In Kindergarten and first grade, the foundation for reading is set to ensure students develop strong early literacy skills. Teachers utilize Orton-Gillingham, a multisensory approach, to teach phonics and phonemic awareness skills, ensuring students can confidently segment and blend unfamiliar words. Once students develop their independence as readers, instruction focuses on building a student’s repertoire of high-frequency words and teaching word solving skills to help students become more fluent readers. Young readers also learn to think meaningfully about texts, whether read aloud by a teacher or independently. Students gain experience with comprehension, through activities that engage students with songs and rhymes, read-alouds, and poetry. Teachers demonstrate specific comprehension strategies to ensure that readers make connections, ask questions and synthesize the meanings of a text while also placing value on student thinking.

    As students’ decoding skills grow in 1st and 2nd grade, vocabulary and fluency development become central to their reading progress. Students begin to tackle more challenging material and show mastery of their foundational reading skills. Reading more genres exposes students to different types of literature and a focus on informational texts helps students apply their knowledge of word-solving and comprehension strategies to more rigorous texts with vocabulary specific to the content, like science or history.

    With one approach found throughout the Lower School, teachers use the writer’s workshop model to give students substantial time practicing writing across a variety of genres. Students learn to take ownership over the writing process by planning, drafting, and revising their work. Teachers conference individually with students to offer tailored instruction and help young writers improve their craft.

    In third and fourth grade students work to integrate many of these foundational skills and begin applying them to analyze the wider world. Teachers use literature as a means to discuss complex and abstract ideas. Students read novels and integrate their repertoire of word solving and thinking strategies to tackle challenging books. Using whole group and small group instruction, teachers help students learn to analyze literature and in the process improve their writing and critical thinking skills. Studying the elements of specific genres allows students to develop a better understanding of craft and audience. Book groups organized by genre or theme help students learn to collaborate with others and to refine their thinking through meaningful discussion. Teachers also introduce strategies to annotate texts. Finally, students learn to craft expository writing as a way to effectively communicate their ideas about literature and support their ideas with evidence from texts.
     
  • Math

    Graland’s mathematics program is a challenging, well-articulated course of study focused on building mathematical understanding that uses a Singapore Math approach. Students actively construct new knowledge from experience and prior knowledge through problem-solving, hands-on activities, and direct instruction. Curricular goals include conceptual understanding, skill development, and the application of concepts to solve increasingly complex problems. We place heavy emphasis on critical thinking, as students learn to flexibly and efficiently use a variety of strategies to approach problems. Classroom discussions provide opportunities for students to justify their thinking, critique the reasoning of others, and make connections across solutions. Concepts are introduced using concrete materials before shifting to pictorial models and abstract representations. These concrete and visual models support students’ abilities to reason about quantities and understand the context of problems. We encourage inquiry and understanding as well as support the development of skill mastery through daily problem solving, games, puzzles, and repeated practice.

    Lower school students develop skills necessary to grasp the properties of numbers and the relationship between numbers. In kindergarten, first, and second grades, students build reasoning skills by exploring numbers, looking for patterns, estimating, and mastering addition and subtraction of whole numbers. In third, fourth, and fifth grades, these skills are used to solve multi-step word problems, explore fractions, decimals, and ratios, and to master multiplication and division of whole numbers. In all grades, students strengthen their grasp of geometry, measurement, and data analysis through hands-on work. Throughout lower school, students form an appreciation of the significance of place-value and an understanding of the application of mathematical concepts in real-world situations.
     
  • Social Studies

    In the lower school, social studies is designed to help students make sense of the world around them. That is accomplished by using a micro to macro approach. In kindergarten, students focus primarily on themselves and their families. They learn where their families originally immigrated from and locate those places on a map. First graders begin to expand their understanding to include their school community and neighborhood. They think about community impact through the study of birds on campus and in surrounding areas. Third graders turn their attention to Colorado, incorporating numerous field trips in order to understand their state’s landscape and history. They also engage in a unit on immigration and attend a Naturalization Ceremony to welcome new citizens to Colorado. Once in fourth grade, students learn about colonization of the United States. Additionally, they partner with other Denver schools and build relationships with students who have either physical challenges or severe learning differences. Classroom discussions focus on empathy, inclusion, acceptance and authentic relationships. It’s a win-win combination.

    Skill acquisition is embedded thoughtfully into a variety of mediums. Mapping is an essential part of that process as visual and spatial thinking help make meaning out of places. Discussions are also a critical way for lower school students to explore their worlds. As they get older, reading comprehension and writing fluency are stressed more often.
     
  • Science

    The science program at Graland is comprehensive, dynamic, and forward-thinking.  It is designed to encourage students’ curiosity, creativity, leadership, and risk-taking through innovation and the exploration of applied scientific theory.  The program enhances critical thinking skills through real-world problem solving and actively promotes connections to both math and literacy.

    Science in Lower School is a time of exploration, discovery and fun.  Students first learn to embrace and pursue their natural curiosity to explore such topics as animals, rocks and the solar system. Hands-on activities inspire budding scientists to investigate, question, and to seek answers. As students engage in a broad array of scientific inquiry, they learn to notice, discern, identify problems, and work together to find possible solutions.  Many units culminate with an engineering design process in the innovation lab which encourages students to take risks in pursuing original and creative ideas. Whether designing and testing hand pollinators, bird beaks or water filters, students learn that they have within them the capacity to share ideas, innovate, and solve real world problems with collaborative and innovative thinking.
  • Spanish

    The Lower School Spanish program provides students with a linguistic foundation of key vocabulary and instills a positive attitude toward future language studies. Students engage in thematic units, learning words and phrases through songs, games, and interactive lessons. Students start their language learning by hearing and repeating words and phrases. In 1st and 2nd grade, students are exposed to the written language and practice reading individual words and short phrases. By 3rd and 4th grade, students perform scripted dialogues in Spanish.

    Throughout the program, students learn about various Spanish-speaking cultures and countries. Each unit also features communicative activities that showcase the students’ learning. Highlights include a weather unit complete with recorded forecasts, skits about rainforest animals in Costa Rica, a trip to the Farmer’s Market where students practice their conversational Spanish.
     
  • Library

    The Learning Commons is a resource and a provider of services to students, faculty, staff, and parents. In its innovative design, the Learning Commons serves as an open and flexible space that fosters learning and communication. The Learning Commons is host to a robust makerspace that encourages students to design, create and build, as well as a state of the art Digital Media Studio. Alongside the Digital Media Studio, the Learning Commons is home to the Help Desk that supports students’ technology needs.

    In addition to being a learning hub for the school, the Learning Commons is a library that supports the classroom curricula. Graland’s library teachers foster a love of reading and instill in students a strong curiosity to research and explore. In library classes, students learn about Graland’s six innovation skills of empathy, critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, and perseverance. Younger students are introduced to library terminology and organization, and learn how to properly care for, check out, and return materials. They study a variety of authors and learn about story elements, as well as how to differentiate between fiction and non-fiction. Beginning in Kindergarten, library classes are designed to support grade-level social studies curricula, from learning about geography in kindergarten to American history in fourth grade. First through fourth grade students also learn about the research process: They are taught how to find and evaluate a credible web source, as well as how to effectively use technology resources and how to do so responsibly. Fourth graders enter middle school excited and prepared as innovative thinkers, critical researchers, and lifelong readers who understand the importance of digital citizenship.
     
  • Visual Art

    The Graland visual arts department gives students the opportunity to express ideas through a sequential program of creative experiences. A foundation in the knowledge of art, artists and cultures is established along with skills like drawing, painting, and sculpting in the clay studio, among other media. Experimentation and exploration are encouraged within guided lessons as students observe, reflect, collaborate and discuss art in a variety of forms and approaches. Integration with classroom learning is a strong component at each grade level. Students artwork is regularly celebrated and exhibited on campus, culminating in an all-school art show in the spring.
  • Physical Education

    Our curriculum is founded on the belief that physical education is a vital and integral part of every child’s education, and therefore students have PE class every day. Through movement experiences, physical education contributes to the total growth and development of all children. It enriches learning and helps students achieve optimum personal development.

    The philosophy of our program is to include experiences that will help students develop skills in fundamental movement patterns. We teach traditional team sports like basketball and volleyball as well as individual sports like climbing, archery, skateboarding and golf to help students discover the joy of being active. Our program fosters leadership, independence, and positive team building experiences. It also provides opportunities that incorporate critical thinking, integrity, and cooperation with others.

    The Graland campus’ fieldhouse, climbing wall, playing field and fitness center are ideally suited to training and strengthening our young athletes. Ultimately, the purpose of our program is to foster an appreciation for and a commitment to a lifetime of good health and activity. A Graland graduate, through his/her participation in physical education, will learn, demonstrate and live a life of good citizenship.
     
  • Responsive Classroom

    Responsive ClassroomTM is a research and evidence-based approach to education.  Responsive Classroom strives to incorporate engaging academics, effective management, positive community, and developmentally responsive teaching practices into everyday classroom and school practice.  Responsive Classroom is not a curriculum or kit, rather an approach to education, in order to provide a high-quality education to every child, every day. Research has found that when Responsive Classroom practices are utilized, there is a link to higher academic achievement, improved school climate, and higher-quality instruction.  In action, you can see Graland students participating in daily Morning and Closing Meetings, enjoying Energizers, sharing in Interactive Learning Structures, and engaging in Academic Choice. At Graland Country Day School, we apply Responsive Classroom teaching strategies with fidelity to enhance the schooling experience for our students.
  • Music

    In the Lower School, children experience music to cultivate joy, community, and artistic expression. Their earliest classes integrate movement and play to teach musical concepts. As they progress, children then apply instruments and musical language to develop their skills and abilities. There are a variety of performance opportunities to build confidence. Social development is fostered as children experience the joy of making music individually and as part of a group. The conservatory program allows children to extend their learning through private and group lessons outside of the school day.
  • Drama

    The goal of the drama program is to build a strong foundation of theatre skills using a diverse curriculum designed for enjoyable, active drama learning and performing. Through these positive experiences, students grow up to become more confident and well rounded adults who appreciate the arts and incorporate it into their lives. They gain practice in public speaking and presentation. Students explore the joy of ensemble as they present grade-level performances that tie into their core classroom studies, and the fourth grade musical is the culmination of their lower school drama training. Character development both onstage and off is incorporated into the performing arts program to teach traits like responsibility, integrity, self-confidence, collaboration and empathy.
  • Trips & Experiences

    Students in all grades benefit from enriched curricular leassons through on-campus visitors and off-campus day trips. Click here to learn more about our trips program.
  • Service Learning

    Service learning programs at each grade level support our guiding principles and our mission to prepare students to be engaged citizens and thoughtful leaders. Through serving in the community and learning about community needs, students gain empathy for others, while understanding how they can personally make an impact. Click here to learn more about our Service Learning Program.
  • Signature Programs

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.