Core Subject Areas
Princeton Junior School strives to create a community of lifelong readers and writers. The Language Arts curriculum is guided by the IB Languages Arts Scope & Sequence and reflects the integrated nature of balanced literacy in its approach to listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Throughout their time at PJS, students will read a variety of genres for a variety of purposes. When reading for literary experiences, reading may include fictional stories, plays, or poems. When reading to be informed, reading may include informational text, articles and resource materials. Students are exposed to texts that increase their understanding, provoke thoughtful questions and encourage whole group discourse.
Reading instruction involves teaching the skills and strategies to decode and comprehend text by helping students develop effective and efficient processing systems. Word study, which includes phonics, structural analysis, and vocabulary is integral to decoding and constructing meaning. The teacher read-aloud provides a model for good reading and writing, introduces “book language,” and supports listening and comprehension instruction.
The Reading and Writing Workshop model is designed to create passionate and capable lifelong readers and writers. In the workshop model, each lesson begins with a mini lesson where the teacher provides direct instruction to students. Children are then given time to get to the heart of reading and writing at their own level. During this time, the teacher confers with students to provide support, assess progress and create goals alongside students. The group then comes back together to share what they have learned.
At PJS, students engage in daily writing opportunities both independently and interactively with classmates. These writing experiences support students as they build stamina, develop fluency and strengthen writing skills. As students write for a variety of purposes, their written work is integrated into the IB units of study. This provides an avenue for students to share their conceptual learning in meaningful contexts with our school community and broader audiences. Writing instruction provides an opportunity for practice and application of grammar, usage, mechanics, spelling, handwriting and typing.
In the Primary Years Program, science is viewed as the exploration of the natural, physical and material worlds. Our science program encourages curiosity along with an understanding of the world and enables students to develop a sense of responsibility regarding the impact of their actions. We emphasize the importance of learning science in context and exploring content that is relevant to students current units of inquiry.
The knowledge component of our science program is arranged into four strands.
At Princeton Junior School, we strive to instill an intrinsic fascination with mathematics in each student. Children learn, from the Toddler class up through Grade 5, that the first step in understanding and solving a problem is asking good questions. Real learning comes from thinking about the best way to investigate a mathematical concept, take risks, evaluate outcomes and learn from experiences.
- Goals of the PJS Mathematics Program
- Mathematicians at Princeton Junior School
- Math Model Workshop
- Curriculum and Resources
- Mathematical Practices
The goal of the Princeton Junior School mathematics program is to develop children’s ability to think systematically and abstractly, to understand relationships between numbers and operations, and to confidently and creatively become effective problem-solvers. While students are expected to demonstrate a balance of conceptual understanding and application, there is also an emphasis on the development of strong computational fluency.
Throughout the grades, teachers use concrete manipulative objects to help children internalize mathematical concepts. Students work extensively with contexts and models that represent the place value structure of our base 10 number system. They use concrete modeling to build and visualize how numbers are composed and decomposed. Through their exploration of mathematics, students will achieve comprehensive knowledge of number, pattern and function, data handling, measurement, as well as space and shape. As children progress from operations with whole numbers and fractions to basic principles of volume, area and perimeter, they learn to apply their skills to a variety of problem-solving tasks—word problems, mental math, logic puzzles and games. Whether learning about time, money or weather patterns, the emphasis is always on applying skills to real life situations. Although accurate computation is a goal, teachers purposely highlight and lean into the importance of estimation and the reasoning that underpins all mathematics. As students work towards making sense of mathematical problems, they discover efficient strategies, learn organized ways to record their work clearly, and engage in Math Talks where mathematicians exchange strategies with one another. Their work with computation emphasizes the importance of accuracy, flexibility, and efficiency.
The Math Workshop model is designed to create passionate, confident, and lifelong practitioners of mathematics. The format of the Math Workshop Model begins each lesson with an interactive math warm-up, followed by a short mini-lesson where the teacher provides direct instruction to students. Students then break out into small groups that rotate through various work stations which might include: independent practice, partner problem-solving, game play, and teacher time. During this time, the teacher confers with small groups and provides need-specific support, goal-setting, and assessment of progress. The group then comes back together to reflect and share what they have learned either verbally, or as a written reflection.
From the emergence of addition and subtraction strategies in the early grades, up to algebraic concepts in the intermediate grades, students build their knowledge through an inquiry-based approach that connects and integrates with the IB units focused on the world around them. The PJS school wide math curriculum incorporates the International Baccalaureate Mathematics Scope and Sequence and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Standards and Focal Points. The IB Scope and Sequence provides the foundation for our mathematics program, and NCTM provides some of the building materials with which students construct their mathematical knowledge.
PJS follows the Mathematical Practices suggested by Deborah Ball, Jo Boaler, et al. in their 2009 work:
Make Sense and Persevere: Students make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
Reason: Students reason abstractly and quantitatively
Construct and Critique: Students construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
Model: Students model with mathematics.
Strategy: Students use appropriate tools strategically.
Precision: Students attend to precision.
Structure: Students look for and make use of structure and patterns.
Our Social Studies program guides students towards a deeper understanding of themselves and others, and of their place in an increasingly global society.
At PJS, strong social studies skills are achieved through the consideration of five strands of learning:
- Human Systems and Economic Activites
- Social Organization and Culture
- Continuity and Change through Time
- Human and Natural Environments
- Resources and the Environment