English Language Arts
Literacy is at the core of HAFTR's Lower School curriculum. Students are engaged in a variety of literacy activities throughout their day. Our philosophy about the teaching of reading is that students learn differently and therefore we draw on various methods in our classrooms and engage students in a variety of literacy activities throughout the day. Our balanced approach to the teaching of reading emphasizes a strong foundation in phonemic awareness, building a broad sight vocabulary and strengthening comprehension skills. Students in grades K-3 utilize the Fundations Program to support the study of phonics, phonemic awareness, spelling, and handwriting. Word Walls can be found in all classrooms and students are introduced to their sight words using multisensory activities. Students are continuously assessed utilizing running records and are then matched to books on their level for independent reading and guided reading groups.
Throughout the Reading and Writing Workshop, students learn strategies, try them out with their teacher's support and practice them independently. The classroom structure for independent time varies as kids may work independently, with a partner or in a small group with their teacher, assistant or reading teacher. Reading and writing units are closely aligned so that the material they read, provides an exemplar for their writing. "Book Baggies" go home nightly so that students can practice the reading strategies they learned in school.
During Writing Workshop, students receive explicit instruction and extensive writing opportunities to enable then to become proficient and independent writers. Through the year students learn to craft engaging personal narratives, informational text and opinion pieces. All students work through the writing process and are proud to share their work at publishing celebrations.
Our literacy curriculum is aligned with the Common Core State Standards. This curriculum requires students to read both fiction and nonfiction. With this in mind, our units of study enable and encourage students to read high level, expository text as well as literary nonfiction. In the upper grades, many of these units closely match the work students are doing in social studies.
Our social studies curriculum provides students with information about American as well as Jewish history. Our youngest students, in kindergarten and first grade, learn about themselves, our school and neig
hborhood communities and the importance of rules, expectations and good citizenship. Students take neighborhood walks, visit local establishments and shuls and create maps to demonstrate their learning. Second graders learn about different types of communities; urban, rural and suburban, both in New York and in Israel. Third graders study communities around the world. They learn about similarities and differences in culture, government and geography. Comparisons begin between Israel and the United States and then expand to other countries.
Fourth Graders focus on New York State. They begin by studying Immigration. Their visit to the Lower East Side teaches them about Jewish life in the early 1900s. Students throughout the year make connections to other immigrant stories, both past and present. Students then learn about the Native Americans who lived here, Colonial Times and the American Revolution. Famous Jewish figures who lived during those time periods are highlighted. Fifth graders begin the year learning about US government, move to events leading up to the Civil War, learn about the battles, important figures and how the country changed. Students end the year learning about the Civil Rights movement. Students engage in debate about how the world has changed as they study general themes that arise during the different time periods.
Classroom teachers and special programs teach students about the founding of the State of Israel, its geography, political system, resources and innovations. All Jewish and American holidays are celebrated and classroom libraries include a wealth of literature for read alouds.