We deliver a curriculum from early childhood through the eighth grade which challenges every student to reach his or her potential and prepares them for lifelong success. Our culture emphasizes academic excellence in a supportive environment.
Core Curriculum Snapshot
A brief preview of what is happening at Highlands in each subject and grade level. Explore each grade level page to see a more in-depth review of curriculum.
The Language Arts program at Highlands School fosters life-long learners who are curious and engage with the community and world around them. In order to do this, students must be able to effectively communicate their ideas, both orally and in writing, and to read and interpret ideas of others.
Based on research and best practices, our teachers provide instruction in Language Arts through the reading and writing workshop model. A mini-lesson is taught through whole-group instruction, often using a mentor text that, in writing workshop, exemplifies the writer’s technique, craft or structure, and in reading workshop, is used to model a comprehension strategy or focus. Teachers model for students, teachers and students practice together, then students have time to practice that writing technique or reading strategy independently. Teachers also work with small groups and confer with students individually, enabling the teachers to differentiate, provide individual feedback, and meet each student’s individual learning needs. Grammar is a fundamental part of the workshop and is taught through the lens of writing.
Students are engaged in questioning and discovery in both reading and writing. Practice helps children to become proficient and effective readers and writers; therefore, both reading and writing workshop take place daily. In all classrooms, technology is integrated into classroom learning.
The study of Social Studies at Highlands School is built around the school’s mission of creating well-educated, responsible, and productive members of the community. The purpose of social studies is to study and to understand people; students learn to become empathetic, tolerant, and critical thinkers. At Highlands we believe that it is important to study all aspects of social studies from geography to economics.
We seek to enhance and broaden our students’ understanding of the world as well as to foster appreciation of other cultures. The content area of social studies provides a rich venue for the inclusion of project work. Project work allows our students to focus deeply on their learning while sustaining focus and engagement. We believe that it is important to develop into a 21st century citizen, one that can collaborate, and think critically and creatively. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) endorses a “view of the world that invites and rewards curiosity concerning the richness and diversity of all human societies and encourages respect for all people.”
Mathematics is about problem-solving. One goal of mathematics instruction is to strengthen critical thinking, reasoning, and computational fluency which helps to lay the groundwork in the development of algebraic concepts. Accuracy, flexibility, and efficiency in computation give students the strength to become confident, creative, and effective problem-solvers. To help develop understanding students receive direct instruction and use concrete manipulatives, games, and technology as a tool when appropriate. Moving from understanding the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract provides a continuum to solidify understanding. Through concrete representations students are introduced to new concepts and use real objects to demonstrate their understanding.
As students move to the pictorial phase of their learning they relate their learning to representation using drawings or diagrams. Experiencing mathematics visually is helpful for learning. Then students move towards abstract thinking and represent problems using mathematical notation. This progression enables students to construct meaning, develop strong reasoning skills, and justify their thinking. Empowering students to ask questions is an important part of mathematics learning and also helps to further develop students’ ability to effectively communicate their thoughts and ideas to others.
Equally important is guiding understanding through questioning of students. As students move toward the upper grades they continue to build core concepts in order to strengthen their understanding of number sense, number theory, and problem solving. They are challenged to apply their mathematical thinking to solve real-world problems. As students move into algebraic studies they continue to use their mathematical foundation to analyze problems, determine solutions, and persevere using different problem solving strategies. Students learn to question whether their answers are reasonable and to evaluate the meaning of their problem solving process.
In the lower grades, the primary mathematics program used in 4K is Everyday Math and in K–4 it is Math in Focus. Beginning in 5th grade, students use the Pearson mathematics series through 8th grade. Our Middle School students are afforded the opportunity to advance to higher level mathematics past Algebra I as appropriate.
As with all programs, teachers add to and enrich what is taught through the use of appropriate supplementary materials. Learning goals for each grade level are guided by recommendations from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). It is important to meet students where they are and help them become capable and confident problem solvers. As engagement breeds achievement, mathematics teaching is designed to provide students with a strong foundation which will enable them to become critical thinkers who enjoy the learning of mathematics.
At Highlands School, we prepare our students to become life-long learners and problem-solvers who are able to participate and interact in an ever changing technological world. Through a hands-on and integrated science curriculum students take ownership and personal responsibility for their learning and social behavior. Learning goals are guided by research and recommendations from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). The ever-evolving nature of science is experienced, and by implementing a hands-on approach this experiential piece of science helps to enhance the students’ understanding of their world. Students are actively engaged in challenging, engaging, and relevant science activities which require daily collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving. While learning through exploration, problem-solving, and teamwork students become confident learners who are able to explain what they are doing and why it is being done as well as how things work. A goal is to ensure students are being reached where they are by providing for a range of learning styles and encouraging them to gain a comfortable grasp of skills and habits which will follow them into adulthood. Through our STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program, students explore technology and engineering as they apply mathematical skills to understand and solve real life issues. STEM concepts may be revealed in everyday lessons and often lie in art, nature, stories, and more. The engineering design process allows students to question, imagine, design, improve, create, and build. Students investigate global issues and solve real world problems using meaningful, purposeful, and relevant project-based learning experiences.
The World Languages program at Highlands School consists of three languages: Chinese, French, and Spanish. Students develop a functional use of another language in a variety of contexts and for multiple purposes, as well as an understanding of cultural practices as they relate to communicative competence. The World Languages program at Highlands School engages all levels of language learners at each grade level through various instructional methods.
Click here to learn more about our World Languages department.
The Physical Education curriculum at Highlands School seeks to provide developmentally appropriate instruction that is designed for all students, regardless of skill level. The program goal is to provide students of all abilities and interests with a foundation of movement experiences that eventually lead to active and healthy lifestyles. We strive to provide experiences that allow for student success, maximum participation, and enjoyment.
Click here to learn more about our Physical Education department.
Art and Music serve as a distinctive vehicle for discovering who we are and connecting with the world around us. At Highlands, the art curriculum prepares students to be successful in a 21st century environment that demands innovative thinking and creativity.
While our curriculum is rigorous, we strive to provide an atmosphere that is stimulating and engaging, while allowing each child to experience himself or herself as a growing, competent achiever.
Click each grade level below to find out more information on curriculum each year