Core Subject Areas

Language Arts

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.

Readers at Princeton Junior School

 

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 Workshop Model

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.

Writers at Princeton Junior School

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.

Science

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.

Living Things

The study of the characteristics, systems and behaviors of humans and other animals, and of plants; the interactions and relationships between and among them, and with their environment.

Earth and Space

The study of planet Earth and its position in the universe, particularly its relationship with the sun; the natural phenomena and systems that shape the planet and the distinctive features that identify it; the infinite and finite resources of the planet.

Materials and Matter

The study of the properties, behaviors and uses of materials, both natural and human-made; the origins of human-made materials and how they are manipulated to suit a purpose.

Forces and Energy

 

The study of energy, its origins, storage and transfer, and the work it can do; the study of forces; the application of scientific understanding through inventions and machines.

Mathematics

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

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.

Mathematicians at Princeton Junior School

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.

Math Model Workshop

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.

Curriculum and Resources

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.

Mathematical Practices

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.

Social Studies

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

The study of how and why people construct organizations and systems; the ways in which people connect locally and globally; the distribution of power and authority.

Social Organization and Culture

The study of people, communities, cultures and societies; the ways in which individuals, groups and societies interact with each other.

Continuity and Change through Time

The study of the relationships between people and events through time; the past, its influences on the present and its implications for the future; people who have shaped the future through their actions.

Human and Natural Environments

The study of the distinctive features that give a place its identity; how people adapt to and alter their environment; how people experience and represent place; the impact of natural disasters on people and the environment.

Resources and the Environment

The interaction between people and the environment; the study of how humans allocate and manage resources; the positive and negative effects of this management; the impact of scientific and technological developments on the environment.