Curriculum, Grades 1-8
Students learn religion daily in our developmentally appropriate curriculum and through our yearly school themes that are tied into the practices of our Catholic faith. Lessons taught from the Blest are We series give students experiential learning in prayer, scripture, worship, traditions, sacraments, family life, and service to the community.
Coordinated by the parish religious education team in conjunction with our classroom teachers, sacrament preparation occurs in 2nd grade (Reconciliation & First Eucharist) and 8th grade (Confirmation). Reconciliation is also celebrated by grades 3 – 8 during Advent and Lent.
Once each week every grade participates with the parish community in a morning Mass. “All School Masses”, planned by buddy grade groups, are celebrated 6-7 times a year. Primary students also participate in a weekly prayer service planned by a certain homeroom each week.
From preschool on, students engage in the process of moving from learning to read to reading to learn. Phonics, comprehension strategies, vocabulary development, inferences, critical thinking skills, and written response enable students to achieve in all areas of study. In the early grades universal benchmark screening is done three times a year followed by classroom and small group teaching to strengthen necessary pre-reading and reading skills. Students move from Guided Reading with leveled readers to class study and independent reading of fiction and non-fiction literature. Instruction is also given in grammar, writing, spelling and oral presentation and is applied across the curriculum.
K – 3rd grade uses a leveled reading series. Class novel study and literature circles begin in third grade and continue through 8th grade along with strengthening reading skills in non-fiction and content area reading. Some examples of novels read at each grade level are as follows: 3rd – Honus and Me and Shoeshine Girl, 4th – Shiloh and Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, 5th – Bridge to Terabithia and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 6th – The Westing Game and the D’Aularies Book of Greek Myths, 7th – Touching Spirit Bear and Shakespeare Stealer, and 8th – Swallowing Stones and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Students’ math skills in computation, estimation, geometry and measurement, data analysis and probability, problem solving, logic, and articulation of concepts are spiraled at each grade level through sixth grade. In Grades 3 – 5, students continuously review concepts learned through the Common Core aligned Simple Solutions Math that is used in conjunction with the textbook. Based on pre-assessment, 7th grade classes are divided into three levels for pre-Algebra and eighth grade is divided into three levels for Algebra allowing some students to pursue advanced placement in high school. The Common Core Aligned Big Ideas Math series is used in grades 6 – 8.
Each summer, students leave with a math packet prepared by the teachers that offers review of important math concepts from the past year’s curriculum along with challenging and fun math related activities. All completed math packets are to be brought back to school in the Fall.
Theme based units in the primary grades and text book and project based learning in third grade and up focus on community, government, economics, United States’ regions, ancient civilizations, Medieval and Renaissance periods, American history, and the Illinois and U.S. Constitutions. Eighth graders participate in the Chicago Metro History Fair; students have advanced to the State and National competitions. Geography, current events, and field trips are integrated into every grade level including a day trip to Springfield to coincide with the study of the Illinois Constitution. A finance class is also offered for eighth graders.
St. Giles uses an integrated science curriculum of life science, physical science, and earth science. Topics are coordinated across the grade levels and emphasis is put on inquiry based learning, the scientific method, lab reports, vocabulary development, content reading, and current science. A newly refurbished science lab is available for grades 4 – 8 and the primary is equipped with apparatus for demonstration and experiments in the classroom. Field trips support the curriculum. Seventh graders participate in the Chicago Science Fair, and students each year advance to the Regional and Illinois state competition. Some major topics studied are as follows: Preschool – personal hygiene, weather and seasons, plants and animals;, Kindergarten – the ocean, seasons, magnetism, animals; 1st – reptiles, mammals and amphibians, dinosaurs, water, and the five senses; 2nd – Plants/trees, ocean animals, the Earth, and body systems; 3rd – living things and their habitats, Earth, matter, work and machines, and staying healthy; 4th – ecosystems, solar system, matter, digestive, circulatory, and nervous systems, and gardening; 5th – animal classification, reproduction and heredity, Earth’s resources and changes, climate and weather, the atom, laws of motion, and respiratory and circulatory systems; 6th – cells, biomes, earth processes, mass and matter, nervous and endocrine systems; 7th – waves and light, cell reproduction and DNA, the skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, excretory and digestive systems, and nutrition; and 8th – atomic structure and the periodic table, chemical bonds and chemical reactions, force and motion, change through time, and astronomy.
Based on NETS standards, students learn computer skills and applications integrated with classroom curriculum. Two staffed labs serve the Kindergarten – 3rd, and 4th – 8th grades as well as having computers, netbooks, and iPads in the classrooms. LCD projectors and Smart Boards are also used daily at each grade level. By the end of eighth grade, students have demonstrated skills in keyboarding, word processing, Internet searching, spreadsheets, PowerPoint multimedia presentations, creating web pages and podcasts and use of other Web 2.0 tools. Students on the Tech Team work with teachers to create lessons to better integrate technology in their teaching, and produce a weekly school news webcast.
St. Giles moved from an extra-curricular program to teaching Spanish within the curriculum for grades 1 – 8 in 2007-2008. Two teachers share the responsibility of teaching twice a week classes to the primary and 4th – 6th students, while 7th and 8th have Spanish three times perweek.
Grades K – 8 engage in art and music education once a week. Art education aspires to bring out the artist in every student through projects using various techniques and media. Art Appreciation volunteers extend the learning in curricular areas. In Music, students engage in singing, music theory, playing recorders, and the study of musicians. St. Giles offers a fee based band program that involves 4th – 8th graders in five bands. Band members lend their talent to our yearly Christmas Pageant and to our liturgical choirs. The 8th grade yearly puts on a musical stage production.
Physical education emphasizes individual effort, personal fitness, skill development, and teamwork. Students are taught to monitor their own well being within each activity and to appreciate the contribution of all team members. After school intramurals are organized for all grade levels as well as a summer program.