St. Columba Elementary School takes a traditional, structured approach to education, with an exemplary, child-centered academic program. Our core subjects focus on reading and reading comprehension, composition, inquiry and analytical skills.
St. Columba students are expected to achieve and we know that each child does so differently . Our teachers help all students to excel by differentiating their instruction to meet the needs of the broader classroom. This explains why St. Columba students consistently perform above grade level in all subject areas.
To complement our strong academic program, our elementary students are enriched with a full schedule of art, music, physical education, and Spanish language with computers and communication technologies incorporated into their regular school day. Throughout all areas of study we emphasize communication, both written and spoken. St. Columba students develop outstanding public speaking skills, enabling them to interact thoughtfully and respectfully throughout the community.
Overview of early elementary classes:
Kindergarten – Second Grade
– Students learn stories of the Old and New Testament, traditional prayer memorization, seasons of the Church, the sacrament of Baptism, the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, culminating with preparation for receiving First Eucharist in the spring of second grade. The text used is Christ Our Life by Loyola Press.
– Utilizing the Open Court / Imagine It reading system, students move from emergent readers to independent readers and writers who are able to decode words, having a good sense of phonemic awareness. Through journaling and writers’ workshop, students learn to express themselves while increasing vocabulary and improving spelling. Reading comprehension is fully developed through interactive processes teaching students how to synthesize information. Parts of speech, punctuation, capitalization and proper sentence structure are also introduced. Weekly spelling tests are administered in first and second grades.
– Our early elementary students explore numbers and number patterns, time, money, basic addition and subtraction, data and graphing, as well as introductory geometry, comparisons, measurements, fractions, place value, and regrouping. Houghton Mifflin text is used.
– Students study inquiry-based science, learning to apply the scientific method to all experiments. Life science, Earth science and Physical science are explored with varying units, including plants, animals, habitats, dinosaurs, small machines, magnets and outer space. Students also engage in group projects with parent volunteers, participating in our school’s annual Science Fair. Macmillan text is used.
– Students learn about our country and the world around us through stories, discussions, and social studies units. Second graders also utilize reference materials, read maps and tables, and study our continents and oceans, using a Houghton Mifflin text.
– Applying the D’Nealian form, students learn to properly space letters and words, developing fine motor coordination and legible handwriting. In second grade, D’Nealian cursive writing is introduced.
– At St. Columba, we recognize the enormous benefits of introducing foreign language study at an early age. As part of our comprehensive K-8 Spanish Language curriculum, early elementary students focus on acquiring correct pronunciation, comprehending spoken Spanish and learning some basic vocabulary and cultural insights. We teach greetings, classroom objects, colors, numbers, animals, days of the week and other simple words.
– Students learn about the library, how to find information both in books and with a computer, enjoying all that technology has to offer. Keyboarding skills are also introduced. We have a set of Chromebooks shared amongst K-2. These tools are used regularly for enrichment and drill activities.
– Students develop a true appreciation for music, practicing songs for Mass and preparing special music for Christmas and Spring Programs. We teach tone quality, proper posture, and audience behavior. Students improvise simple rhythmic and melodic patterns using vocal sounds and movement. Instruments and composers are also studied, as well as music from different traditions and cultures.
– Early elementary students explore a variety of media creating their own works of art. The goal of art instruction at St. Columba is to cultivate the artist within every student. The visual arts are explored through materials, tools, techniques and processes, emphasizing cultural and historical points of view.
– We introduce students to a wide variety of physical fitness activities, developing motor skills, coordination, timing, and accuracy. Our lessons include basic health education, stretching activities and an understanding of good teamwork. Students learn at an early age how physical activity can help build character and self esteem.
Overview: Third Grade – Fifth Grade
– Students study the life of Jesus, the sacraments and their significance to one’s spiritual life, the parts of the Mass, the four types of prayers, and the lives of saints. Special emphasis is placed on social justice and service learning. Fourth Graders prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, including a review of the Commandments and a study of the Beatitudes. Sex education is also introduced in fourth grade. The text used is Christ Our Life by Loyola Press. Utilizing workbooks by Loyola Press, these principles of grammar are explored in an interesting format by drawing on history and the lives of saints.
– Students gain further knowledge in a detailed study of the parts of speech, punctuation, capitalization and proper sentence structure. Weekly spelling tests allow the students to expand vocabulary and improve spelling. The mechanics of good writing are also emphasized with frequent composition opportunities, calling attention to the components of quality expository writing. Each grade utilizes fascinating age-appropriate books and texts from various genres to strengthen comprehension skills, exploring topics from American History, to folklore, to opera.
– Multiplication and division are introduced in third grade, as well as a continued study of addition, subtraction, estimation, word problems, geometry, and fractions. Measurement, place value, and graphing skills are further developed, while basic algebra is introduced. By fifth grade, students are skilled at ratios, percentages, probability, and decimals. Houghton Mifflin text is used.
– Students study Biology, Earth science and Physical science, exploring varying units including cells and ecosystems, Earth and its resources, weather, space, force, motion, and electricity. Students also work on group projects with parent volunteers, participating in our school’s annual Science Fair. Macmillan / McGraw-Hill text is used.
– Third through fifth grade social studies focuses around the development of our country, from the physical formation of the land, to early Native American cultures, progressing through the founding and settlement of America. Our third graders trace the westward movement on the Oregon Trail, while our fourth graders concentrate on the development of different parts of our country, including natural resources and industry. Fifth graders study the advancement of our democratic system of government, and the Industrial Revolution. States and capitals, along with their locations on a map, are also memorized. Houghton Mifflin text is used.
– Third graders are quickly expected to write only in D’Nealian cursive. Excellent penmanship is an expectation of all grades at St. Columba.
– While third through fifth grade students continue to focus on listening and speaking activities, they also begin to read and write in Spanish. Vocabulary includes additional topics such as family, the house, transportation, and the town. Cultural topics are explored in greater detail as well. At the fifth grade level, students have textbooks and worksheets. Students are required to understand, speak, read, and write complete sentences, conversations and paragraphs, learning basic grammatical concepts.
– St. Columba School is an 1:1 Chromebook environment in 4th and 5th grade. Students utilize these tools throughout the school day for research, production, communication, and web -based enrichment activities.
– Students further develop their understanding of music while expanding on tone quality and diction. Singing in rounds is introduced, as well as a review of reading, notating, and performing rhythmic and melodic patterns.
– Students begin to identify and experiment with the various artistic materials, tools, techniques, and processes, recognizing art as a form of communication. Historical works of art will become identifiable, as the students are able to place them in their particular cultures, related to specific times in history.
– Students are coached on appropriate basic skills for various sports games, honing their coordination skills, and encouraging a healthy, active lifestyle. Our lessons include basic health education, stretching activities and a review of good teamwork and sportsmanship.