Lower School Program
Our mission and motto are the foundation of our school, the bedrock of the work that our students accomplish in their classrooms, on the playground, in Morning Meetings, in interactions with peers and adults, and beyond. Encouraged to learn the value of both independence and collaboration, students gain confidence and competence in thinking for themselves and solving problems on their own. Through the process of creativity and discovery, students learn and appreciate the benefits and joy of teamwork.
The notion of giving time to children’s growth and learning underlies our work at Saratoga Independent School. Whether in Singapore Math’s strong emphasis on understanding and mastery, or in Reading and Writing Workshops that give time for close reading and pride in creating well-written, polished work, our teachers understand the importance of allowing time for children to think, learn and discover.
Authentic assessment is based on students’ abilities to perform meaningful tasks they may have to do in the real world. In other words, this form of assessment determines students’ learning in a manner that goes beyond multiple choice tests and quizzes. It engages a variety of skills and measures higher levels of learning than traditional assessments. At SIS, major assessments are as authentic as possible and measure high-level learning (apply, analyze/evaluate, create).
Ongoing informal assessments, including oral and written, occur continuously throughout the school year as a means of guiding students to set goals, and self-reflect to determine if those goals have been accomplished.
Three times a year, progress reports are completed by teachers and students to measure progress based on set State and School criteria.
Learn more about our Elementary Programs:
SIS devotes considerable time to creating truly proficient readers and writers, recognizing that understanding and using language is the foundation for gathering and reflecting upon knowledge in all areas of learning. The language arts curriculum is based on the Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Program, or TCRWP, a research-based approach developed at Columbia University. Daily reading workshops in all grades are used to develop the repertoire of strategies proficient readers use. Interactive “read-alouds” are a highlight of the workshops; these offer an excellent way to immerse learners in the joys of reading and to give teachers the opportunity to model “think-alouds,” demonstrating effective strategies and problem solving for proficient reading. Both fiction and non-fiction, and self-selected, personal interest topics and teacher-planned readings are balanced throughout the program.
Becoming a proficient writer is the companion piece to proficient reading in the language arts curriculum. Writing for self-expression, practical as well as creative, is part of daily practice. Willingness and self-confidence are emphasized at the early levels of learning to write, while mechanics of writing are increasingly introduced as skills progress.
Through the TCRWP approach, writing is viewed as a natural part of daily life and expression. Students share and learn to critique their work, and they understand that many drafts go into a polished, finished piece of writing.
Public speaking and writing come together in regular writing celebrations, when writers read their work to a group of students, teachers, and others, respond to comments and discuss the thinking behind their writing choices.
As in all curricular areas at SIS, we emphasize instruction in math that leads to deeper understanding and conceptual knowledge that goes well beyond manipulation of symbols. Our various instructional strategies build upon hands-on learning.
All students in our math program will take Algebra (at a minimum) in Grade 8, preparing them to take the NYS Regents and tackle advanced math classes in high school.
In-depth, hands-on experiences in science and technology are major components of any contemporary curriculum aiming to prepare learners for careers and participation in 21st century life. In these areas, which demand rapid and ongoing alignment to changing skills and knowledge, foundational understanding of the scientific method and of appropriate use of information technology is key. The scientific method of inquiry – posing questions, collecting observations and data, testing hypotheses, analyzing systematically, and reporting objectively – is emphasized as learners explore traditional and contemporary content of the body of science. Fostering an attitude of scientific inquiry includes encouraging and allowing learners to explore and answer, at appropriate levels of learning, their own self-initiated questions.
Our yearly theme inspires the topics and scope of science learning, which also connect to ideas that students encounter in Social Studies. For example, if a study of systems is part of our theme, science explorations include weather systems. Weather systems naturally bring us to the issue of climate change, which will then take us directly to Social Studies and the impact of climate change on people, nations, and cultures.
Use of the computer as a tool for gathering, processing, and disseminating information is a focus of technology instruction at Saratoga Independent School. Students learn basic computer skills, and use technology regularly in research and writing. Coding is critical in developing skills that allow students to expand their creativity in new ways.
Spanish language learning is included at all levels, from Pre-K through Grade 8, to give students bilingual facility and other cultural exposure. Classes are run in Spanish, and the immersion in the language allows students to gain understanding and fluency from a young age. Frequent connections are made between Spanish and other subjects.
Along with knowledge about the diversity of artistic expression at different times and places, students’ creative self-expression in visual arts and music is encouraged and celebrated. Regular classes in Music and Art are complemented by sophisticated projects and activities in Pre-K – Grade 8. Our fine arts programs create an excellent balance between teaching the skills necessary to be an artist or musician, and the joy and imagination essential for a creative life.
Students in Grades 5 – 8 have the opportunity to play interscholastic soccer, basketball, cross-country, and track. Grades 4 and up may participate in Ski Club at West Mountain.
Clubs are offered after school to appeal to many student interests. Our most well-liked clubs and enrichment programs include Engineering, Coding, Running, TaeKwonDo, Theater, Yoga, Film Making, Odyssey of the Mind, and more.