Instruction within CSCE’s curriculum is organized after the three (3) primary Waldorf structures and routines:
- The Main Lesson The days study begins with the main lesson, introducing new concepts or subject areas when the student’s mind is fresh. Each lesson is designed to address multiple learning modalities with an interdisciplinary approach. This ninety (90) minute lesson is the academic cornerstone upon which that day is built. The main lesson is rotated every three (3) to four (4) weeks.
- A core feature of the main lesson of the day is making of a main lesson book. Each student produces a main lesson book for every block of study. What begins as a blank journal becomes an individual record of experiences, observations and gained knowledge, along with hand-drawn illustrations, and often original poetry or related excerpts from the world of literature. As a portfolio of work, a student’s main lesson books reflect key understandings and skills a student has learned, while also displaying the student’s inspiration. Multidimensional, complex and thoughtful, main lesson books are an important way in which learning is expressed and they become an authentic assessment tool for teachers.
- Reinforcement through Specialty Subjects The breadth of specialty classes, combined with the depth of the main lesson and the reinforcement of practice periods, creates a curricular offering reminiscent of a renaissance-based education. Specialty classes include world language, music, and gym.
We refer you to the following for more detailed curriculum information:
- For standards aligned core content:
CSCE Standards Aligned Curriculum Map
- For core content area pacing guides see the Block Rotations and Skills Lessons for:
- Textbooks used
CSCE’s Curriculum Alignment to California Content Standards
Literacy Development Across the Grades
CSCE know that learning to read well is the cornerstone of creating equitable outcomes for the children. While listening, reading, and writing are integrated into every aspect of the curriculum, they are called out here artificially to highlight how CSCE develops students’ literacy skills through an integration of the three (3) core Open Court/Imagine It! Reading program (“Open Court”) components: (i) Getting Ready to Read, (ii) Responding to Reading, and (iii) ELA (writing/grammar) and the previously discussed core Waldorf practices: (a) main lesson, (b) main lesson book, and (c) reinforcement through specialty subjects.
Literacy instruction begins with the strengths students already bring to school – oral language. The focus on oral language development takes the form of daily listening to artistically told stories. Stories are also drawn from the Open Court big books and anthologies of fables, fairytales, and nursery rhymes.
In the Waldorf tradition, teachers use alliteration in verses, songs, riddles, tongue twisters, and poems as well as games to encourage phonemic awareness development with the whole class. In keeping with English language development (“ELD”) standards appropriate for the CSCE student body, the teacher builds each student’s ability to recognize English phonemes that correspond to phonemes they already hear and produce in their primary language at home and in the community, as well as English phonemes that do not correspond to sounds students hear and produce in their native language, be that Spanish, Chinese or Vietnamese.
In keeping with the Waldorf tradition of teaching from whole to part, teachers will move from the holistic verbal wordplay and storytelling to the more concrete and specific Open Court research-based strategies for blending and segmenting words orally. This integrated process allows the teacher to touch on listening, speaking, and viewing skills that are part of the “preparing to read” component of Open Court. Teachers will enhance students’ phonemic awareness capacity through a unique Waldorf method called eurythmy, in which music and speech are expressed through bodily movement. Specific gestures represent spoken sounds, both vowels and consonants.
In addition to interactive activities to build phonemic awareness, students are invited to discuss the stories they are listening to in order to practice beginning comprehension skills. Students are encouraged to respond to the literature they are exposed to by making personal connections to the text as well as make predictions and clarify their understanding of the text.
The activities are drawn from the Open Court materials that support comprehension strategy instruction. During this time, students build their skills at retelling (summarizing, drawing inferences, and sequencing of events in the story). Students have access to the Open Court leveled library of trade literature as well as the pre-decodable texts that provide the opportunity to practice the blending strategies and high-frequency words they are learning during the Preparing to Read portion of Open Court.
Moving from whole to part, the teacher builds on the oral language work to introduce students to the alphabet through multicultural stories taken from Open Court anthology, using the sound/spelling cards as a support tool. Using the main lesson book, students make drawings of letters suggested by the sounds or names of objects in the literature. Students practice their writing and penmanship by transcribing sentences taken from the oral stories, highlighting language arts, the third part of the Open Court program.
The Waldorf-inspired practice period will be integrated with Open Court universal access period. It is during this ninety (90) minute block that students will receive individualized attention to address any challenges that become evident from analysis of daily and weekly formative assessments. Teachers will have the opportunity to re-teach, offer more targeted intervention, provide more challenge for advanced students, or provide ELD support for ELL students.
CSCE’s goal is that by the end of the First Grade, CSCE students will be able to recognize the forty-four (44) sound/spelling correspondences outlined in Open Court, will have mastered the majority of the first one hundred (100) sight words, and have a fluency rate of sixty (60) words per minute.
Students at this grade level are working toward building solid reading, writing, listening and thinking skills. Using the strategies and structures introduced in Kindergarten and First Grade, students continue to use oral storytelling as a way into authentic reading and writing practices.
Activities and text for practice are taken from the rich readings in humanities and science, using the Open Court Literature Anthologies as a resource. The focus of instruction transitions from phonemic awareness to phonics and fluency. Students build on their segmenting and blending skills as they transition from oral practice to decoding practice, translating spelling symbols into their speech sounds during the “ready for reading” routines of Open Court.
The emphasis is on recognizing and internalizing long vowel variations. Open Court’s decodable texts provide opportunities for students to practice their growing decoding skills. In addition, while continuing to work on their word recognition skills, students are expanding into word play and curiosity about how words work – synonyms, homonyms, palindromes – that capture students’ attention. The teacher uses this excitement and curiosity at this stage to introduce work around word parts as in roots and prefixes.
Systematic word study in which the student is able to make strong, explicit connections between decoding, spelling, and vocabulary becomes more prominent in the Third Grade. In a systemic and sequenced way, students use the tools of word study to build word consciousness as they learn more about how words work – spelling patterns, Latin, Greek, and Anglo roots, prefixes and suffixes. Students are introduced to grammar and punctuation through storytelling and examples from their humanities and science lessons. Writing conventions are reinforced through Open Court activities.
As a result of the literacy activities, CSCE’s ELL students will be able to recognize common English morphemes in phrases and simple sentences. They will be able to demonstrate an internalization of English grammar, usage, and word choice by recognizing and correcting common errors English learners make when speaking or reading aloud, especially with plurals and word endings, which represent different syntactic structures between English and their native language.
CSCE’s goal is that students will leave the Third Grade with a fluent reading rate of at least one hundred ten (110) words per minute. ELL students will have expanded their knowledge of sound/spelling correspondences to include those that do not commonly exist in their native language.