At Longfellow, we aim to provide a rigorous and engaging learning experience for all students by integrating our Magnet theme of Spanish Language and Cross-Cultural Awareness. We differentiate instruction to provide access to grade level curriculum for all learners, whether they are English Learners, Gifted students, or students with special needs. Through magnet themed units that are relevant and engaging, provide peer collaboration, small groups with the teacher, and hands-on activities, we find all can thrive. Incorporating movement and “brain breaks” throughout the day is vital to student engagement and ultimately their success.
English Language Arts
We teach the Common Core English Language Arts standards through the structure of Balanced Literacy. In Balanced Literacy there is a focus on student choice of reading and writing materials so students have a vested interest in their learning. We teach students to choose books that are “good fit” books so they can read at their independent reading level. The teachers work on building stamina with the students for reading and writing independently to allow the teachers time to work in small groups or one on one with students to meet their individual needs. Specific skills are taught through “mini-lessons” where a teacher teaches a skill explicitly and with modeling for no longer than 15 minutes. Students then have the opportunity to practice the new skill with the teacher’s support in literacy activities.
The Common Core Standards in math require students to understand and explain their thinking, not just to compute. We teach students to make sense of the problem and show and explain their thinking. We focus on persevering through difficult tasks and highlighting different approaches to solving the same problem. We share students problem solving strategies, even when they are wrong, so all students can see that you learn from mistakes and revision in math is part of the process. Students have shown great enthusiasm in solving challenging problems and finding different ways to come up with the solutions!
We teach the National Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS) through the 5 E Model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. Using Stemscopes, an online resource, teachers are able to guide students through the 5 E Model. The PUSD Science department provides hands-on materials so students can really Engage and Explore what they are learning. Collaborative relationships with organizations such as Caltech, The Armory, and The Huntington help to make learning come alive for our students inside and outside of the classroom.
The California History-Social Studies Framework focuses on four Central themes: Content, Inquiry, Citizenship, and literacy. In kindergarten through third grade, this takes the form of students learning basic concepts of geography, economics, American Symbols and heroes. There is also a focus on social skills to be a good citizen in our community and our world. In the 4th and 5th grades, the focus is on more concrete topics in history with an emphasis on diversity and the contributions of diverse groups to the development of California and the US. Teachers use grade appropriate literature to help introduce topics and content that often show the experience of individuals at that time. In addition, guiding questions turn students to investigation and research.
Students in grades 1st-5th grade participate in 100 minutes of PE a week. Students are taught and practice grade level physical skills in addition to whole class and partner games to practice the skills. Fifth grade teachers work on conditioning and practice skills for the 5th grade Physical Fitness Test. In addition, teachers at each grade level have been trained in Yoga techniques and incorporate stretching and breathing throughout the school day.
Visual and Performing Arts
The arts are integrated throughout the school day. Students in TK-3rd grade get music instruction once a week from a music teacher. Twice weekly, fourth and fifth grade students receive music instruction in an area of their choice which includes either guitar, piano, percussion, violin or music technology and get music instruction twice a week. Students in kindergarten through 2nd grade receive a 6-week artist in residence program in dance or theater. In addition, all students receive art once a week from an art teacher. The cross-cultural theme is integrated into both music and art instruction.