The Science & Arts Academy curriculum speaks to the uniqueness of our program and reflects our commitment to serving the needs of gifted students. The school’s mission and philosophy is echoed in our curriculum and applied in a nurturing and differentiated environment that supports various learning styles. Our faculty are uniquely trained to develop and adjust the curriculum to match the changing needs and interests of the students.
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- World Language
- Physical Education
- Explore and Create
Exploration, collaboration, and critical thinking are integral aspects of mathematics at Science & Arts Academy Mathematics program.
Our curriculum includes junior kindergarten through 6th grade math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and Pre-Calculus. All Mathematics classes emphasize computational skills for real world applications, problem solving skills, and discussing different methods for solving the same problem.
Recognizing that gifted children often grow and mature in an asynchronous manner, our Mathematics program allows for adjustments in instruction based on the individual needs of students with regard to their skill growth and mastery of material as evidenced by assessment. Teachers use a variety of differentiation tools to determine when students have mastered material within a given chapter or unit. Small group instruction allows students to work at their level on different units and chapters.
The Science & Arts Academy Language Arts program takes a literacy-based approach to instruction that promotes critical thinking and is enriching, engaging, and beneficial for gifted learners.
Project-based, collaborative, and authentic learning opportunities are an integral component of the program and foster a love of literature and writing in students while encouraging them to think deeply and ask the bigger questions. While creativity and innovative strategies and methodologies are employed, foundational writing and reading skills are reinforced and taught in a defined scope and sequence.
The English/Language Arts Common Core Standards have been adapted to meet the needs of SAA students and are used as a baseline for alignment and when appropriate, curriculum is compacted. The strategies used for instruction are differentiated based on assessment, teacher observation, and student readiness.
The Science curriculum is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and to ensure all students reach a level of mastery. Students engage in hands-on learning opportunities conducting inquiry-based experiments. Units of study include Life Science, Earth & Space Science, Physical Science, Environmental Science and Problem Solving & Technology.
Our faculty incorporate hands-on learning and utilizes technology to further meet students’ needs. SAA has four well-equipped labs that provide students access to equipment during experiments, allowing them to delve deeply into the various Science topics taught at each grade level.
Differentiation plays a key role in Science instruction, which allows students the opportunity to work at or above grade level. The content, process, and product is differentiated depending on students’ skills sets and mastery of material.
Social Studies at Science & Arts Academy emphasizes personal growth and civic competence and is aligned to the Common Core and C3 Framework.
Historical thinking skills, social justice, and global citizenship are key tenets to a program designed to enhance students’ research skills, comprehension skills, life skills, global citizenship skills, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, five-paragraph essay writing, and expository writing skills.
Starting in Junior Kindergarten, students begin making connections between the past and present, while understanding the changes occurring in today’s society. Beginning in third grade, students investigate historical questions by employing historical thinking strategies such as sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading. Throughout the program, teachers support students’ development of exploration, critical thinking, and worldly perspectives.
Social Studies at each grade level is differentiated in order to meet the needs of each gifted learner. Student progress is monitored through the use of formative assessments including student observation, artifacts, essays and learning inventories.
At Science & Arts Academy language and cultural knowledge are viewed as a means to communicate and connect to others around the globe. The World Language Program offers students exposure to French and Spanish beginning in Junior Kindergarten. In 1st grade, students select either French or Spanish and continue their course of study through 8th grade.
SAA utilizes a scaffolded approach in developing language proficiency with an emphasis first placed on comprehension and a strong foundation in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students are immersed in the language they choose through a balanced approach incorporating theme-based instruction with textbook support and interactive learning activities. Classroom methodology includes the use of games, technology, art, puppetry, music, videos, performance, conversation, grammar explanation, TPR and TPRS methodologies.
Each grade level is differentiated to meet individual student needs and a spiraled curriculum is utilized to build on prior knowledge and expand to more complex topics, assisting students in making connections between everyday experiences and the language classroom, while preparing for authentic use of the language in future real world settings.
The Science & Arts Academy Physical Education program allows students to focus on the development of gross motor and coordination skills while emphasizing health and wellness. The program stresses acquiring movement and motor skills, achieving and maintaining a healthy level of physical fitness, developing team-building skills, promoting a healthy lifestyle, body growth and development, and general health and well-being.
Students participate in a variety of sports and health units designed with the students’ developmental and social emotional readiness in mind. The Physical Education program is aligned to the Illinois Learning Standards for Physical Development and Health.
Differentiation is utilized in the structuring of activities and games during Physical Education class. Games occur on both recreational and competitive levels, dependent on each student’s preference as well as her/his skill level and developmental readiness.
A spirit of innovation, creativity and collaboration are hallmarks of the Explore and Create (EAC) class. Students in junior kindergarten through eighth grade explore and create with various low and high-tech maker tools, materials and ideas. SAA believes every student should have the opportunity to be a maker and learn processes and “technologies” through making, tinkering and problem solving. Topics include sewing, cardboard, electronics, woodworking, coding and robotics.
The Science & Arts Academy Library seeks to promote students’ intellectual curiosity and develop a love and appreciation for books and libraries. The Library offers instruction and support to students for curricular needs, as well as their pleasure reading. Using classroom curriculum as a springboard, students are engaged in the Library through the utilization of various differentiation strategies in information skills instruction and literary enrichment activities. This collaborative effort encourages a lifelong love of reading and learning for students across grade levels.
SAA’s Library Information Literacy Curriculum, developed for the 21st Century Learner, is based on the Illinois Standards Aligned Instruction for Libraries (i-SAIL) curriculum developed in conjunction with The Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA). i-SAIL incorporates the Common Core State Standards for English, Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects, the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, and the Next Generation Science Standards in the development of this literacy curriculum.
The journey through the world of picture books, chapter books, and gathering and using information is a lifelong journey. It is the goal of the SAA Library to encourage and excite students about the world of reading and information.
At SAA we encourage students to learn, understand, and apply the language of art to their work while providing students with pathways to explore their creativity and expression. SAA is dedicated to meeting the individual needs of students by teaching the general understanding of art as a basic part of human culture and communication.
The rotating Art curriculum introduces new concepts to students each year, while also reinforcing concepts that were learned in previous grades. The National Visual Arts Standards as developed by the National Art Education Association are utilized as a foundation for the scope and sequence of skills taught and reinforced in the Art program.
Students across grade levels are encouraged to think creatively, problem solve, formulate and work through ideas in order to create unique artwork that has personal meaning. Rubrics, which are explored during the introduction of a new project, are used for assessing student artwork and projects.
The Science & Arts Academy music program seeks to prepare gifted students to be lifelong music-makers. The focus is on general and practical musical knowledge, as well as specialized knowledge based on student interest. The music curriculum is spiraled and integrated, allowing students to revisit musical concepts each year and explore them in greater depth. By aligning to the National Standards for Music, students are exposed to the vast discipline of music. Music familiar to students is used for both study and performance in order to strengthen their social and musical identities as well as to create a stronger sense of school community. The music program also seeks to develop in students an appreciation for various musical styles through the study of Western classical music, patriotic and folk music, music from diverse cultures, and popular music.
The music program emphasizes learning that occurs through discovery and application to the world. Therefore, experiential learning forms the basis for music activities. Compulsory music education includes: singing, playing instruments, composing, improvising, arranging, conducting, analyzing, and responding to music through movement. All students have opportunities to explore instruments, including pitched and unpitched percussion instruments, recorder, string and wind instruments, piano, and guitar. Additional opportunities for band, orchestra, and choral performance include Concert Ensemble, Advanced Ensemble, and Chorus.
All students have opportunities to share vocal and instrumental music with an audience during the Winter and Spring concerts and in-class performances. This varied exposure to musical concepts, styles, and performance opportunities has SAA students uniquely prepared to experience music throughout their lives with depth of knowledge and passion.
Students experience differentiated learning through pre-assessments, individualized theory and ear training work, tiered instruction, open-ended composition assignments, and various opportunities for performance. Formal and informal assessments take place throughout the year, and assessment is used to further guide
At Science & Arts Academy we believe that drama and theatre education allows students to frequently express themselves, gain experience performing before alive audience, develop and share unique talents and interests, and explore and understand human nature through a variety of approaches and experiences in and out of the classroom.
Drama is offered across grade levels as a performance art class where a wide range of theatrical elements are explored. By taking a child-centered approach, our faculty encourage students to take risks and step out of their comfort zones. Areas of instruction include: dramatic writing, theatre technology, design, performance, production leadership and organization, and text analysis. The Drama curriculum utilizes the National Core Arts Standards as a foundational framework for alignment.
Our Drama curriculum and after-school performance opportunities are designed with a process-oriented approach in mind. Lower School students begin by exploring physical and vocal expression. Pantomime performances, sensory exercises, and vocal and physical exercises are introduced with the understanding that these skills will be revisited and built upon in subsequent grade levels. The earliest performance opportunities begin in Kindergarten, where students perform in puppet shows before a small audience. In first and second grade, students participate on stage in Reader’s Theatre performances. Additionally, second grade students are also given the opportunity to perform monologues. In grades three and four, students perform in One-Act plays. Building upon previously taught skills, students are expected to memorize their lines for the final performance.
In addition to the weekly drama class offering, in fifth grade, students may choose to participate in after-school productions, and they may sign up to either perform as a cast member or work in the technical crew. Students are recorded in numerous units, including monologue work, commercial production, student films, and scene work. Additionally, Middle School students are given the opportunity to edit their own recorded material for collaborative, creative projects like the newscast project and the black and white silent films. In an effort to reach the various learning styles within any given class, instructors utilize multiple visual and audio strategies, including PowerPoint presentations, teacher generated notes, and video recordings.
Differentiation plays a key role in drama classes. Expectations are outlined for students within each unit of study.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) at Science & Arts Academy is dedicated to maximizing student engagement and learning while focusing on the well-being of students. Teaching our students the skills they need to be successful in school, as well as in life, is at the core of our Social Emotional Learning program.
Executive function and self-regulation skills are mental processes that support an individual’s ability to plan, remember, focus attention and successfully complete multi-step tasks. Executive function and self-regulation skills center on three main brain functions: working memory, mental-flexibility, and self-control (Center for the Child, Harvard University, 2015).
SAA focuses on supporting the development of executive function and self-regulation skills and understands the importance of these lifelong skills particularly for gifted children. Organization and self-efficacy are focal areas beginning in Junior Kindergarten, and subsequent skills are taught in each grade level with the intention of supporting the growth of executive function and self-regulation skills. The end goal is for the SAA graduate to be an independent, well-organized, and self-sufficient individual who is well-prepared for high school and life.
Our Student Support Team understands and supports executive function development and other the diverse needs of gifted learners.