LOWER SCHOOL: 1st-5th
At The Davis Academy, students have the opportunity to feel amazed every single day: in their classrooms, by the teachers, with their friends, while working independently or while collaborating with others.
At every stage of development, teachers nurture critical thinking, while providing opportunity and encouragement for students to share their learning in new and creative ways, creating opportunity for self-discovery.
When science, technology, language arts, literacy and math live side-by-side with art, music, theater and athletics, kids make amazing connections. And when it is all reinforced by the values taught at The Davis Academy – community, respect, spirit, wisdom and righteousness – it enables students to find added personal meaning in those connections. Patterns for thinking, problem solving and communicating are uncovered, giving students the tools for working and living that will last them a lifetime.
Lower School: 1st-5th Curriculum
The Davis Academy places a strong emphasis on language arts and delivers a balanced literacy program at every grade level. Lower School students have two blocks of Language Arts each day, and teachers incorporate whole group, small group and individual instruction to meet the needs of all learners. In the early grades, students develop a strong foundation for literacy with phonics and decoding skills through the Orton-Gillingham multisensory approach. Students learn to work independently and cooperatively with their peers in self-directed literacy centers that reinforce specific reading and writing skills and strategies. As students progress through the lower school, they are increasingly exposed to guided reading groups and novel studies, where they read and discuss rich literature from across the various genres. Davis students develop writing skills through instruction in vocabulary, grammar, and writing strategies. Through a process of expert instruction, guided practice and feedback-driven revision, Davis students develop and polish their writing skills for both creative compositions and formal academic writing pieces. Students showcase their own publication at our annual “Young Author’s Night”.
The elementary math program focuses on providing students with the fundamental building blocks of mathematics necessary for future success in the studies of algebra, geometry, and statistics. The program is accelerated with students learning concepts that are one year advanced of their chronological age. In third grade, we begin levels of math, which enables our students to progress at a pace and with content on par with their skill level. Coinciding with the acquisition of new mathematical skills, older students engage in projects based on statistical surveying and data analysis, as well as reading literature with mathematical themes and concepts.
Our elementary science program provides a complete and engaging hands-on curriculum focused on scientific foundations. Lessons and labs focus on life, earth and physical science. Students are encouraged to read, explore, absorb, and learn science through child-centered lectures, labs and fun activities which expand and reinforce science concepts and literacy skills. Additionally, students are introduced to and explore the scientific method while expanding their observation and analytical skills that are critical to success in future studies of physics, chemistry and biology.
Elementary social studies is a journey through time and place that exposes students to local, national, and global topics. Exploring the development of cultures, structures of governance, practices for economic sustainability and prosperity, and methods for maintenance of civic ideals are at the core of the units our elementary students study. Social studies units allow students to engage with historical content while acquiring and developing skills in research, writing, creative expression, as well as independent and collaborative work. Lastly, our social studies learning comes alive with fantastic field trips to local resources and virtual excursion around the globe.
Our emphasis on Jewish history, traditions, the Hebrew language and connection to Israel give Davis students a solid, secure identity and pride in their faith and link to the Jewish people.
Our Lower School Hebrew Studies courses utilize Behrman House, Tal Am, and Chaverim B’Ivrit, the best curricular materials available for Hebrew language instruction. These materials allow our talented Hebrew language instructors to do what they love to do: instilling in students the ability to read, write, speak, and understand Hebrew. By 5th grade, students are equally comfortable reading from their Siddur, chanting from the Torah, or exchanging emails with their Israeli pen pals.
Spanish is introduced into the curriculum in fourth grade, as one of the nine-week exploratory rotations. During this rotation in the fourth and fifth grade, students are exposed to basic vocabulary and conversation skills through games, skits and active fun. They study familiar and formal greetings, talk about places and people, discuss colors, family, body parts, places, learn numbers, describe classes and classroom objects and learn how to order food in a restaurant. The exploratory class work in Spanish prepares our students for the Spanish elective, which is offered in the middle school starting in sixth grade.
Scratch is a programming language and an online community where students can program and share interactive media such as stories, games, and animation with people from all over the world. As students create with Scratch, they learn to think creatively, work collaboratively, and reason systematically. At The Davis Academy, Scratch is introduced in the 4th grade and is used as a digital storytelling tool in the Programming and Robotics Technology exploratory. Scratch provides our students with a foundation for programming language and skills, while encouraging creativity and teamwork.
Jewish Studies courses are for students that love to ask big questions, debate important topics, explore Jewish history and Jewish tradition and create new ways of experiencing ancient traditions. The true subject of the Jewish Studies classroom at The Davis Academy isn’t Judaism, but life itself. Judaism is not “taught” at The Davis Academy, but rather experienced through creative projects, collaborative learning and experiences that ask the child to reach beyond the classroom itself. Whether reviewing Jewish iPhone apps, creating new ways of fulfilling the mitzvot of Shabbat, understanding the history of Jewish Georgia, or discovering Passover traditions from around the world, Jewish Studies classes ask students to think, feel, and explore – to write, to create, and to research. Rather than trying to cover the breadth of Jewish tradition, Jewish Studies focuses on depth and on making personal connections that are meaningful to our students.
Lower School students participate in PE three times per week. Our activities focus on gross motor movement skills, and non-competitive team skills. Starting in second grade, students can take part in our Developmental Sports Program that offers activities like Rock Climbing, Jump Rope, Volleyball, Basketball, and Track and Field. In Third grade, students take part in Fitnessgram Testing, which carries through the rest of their lower school years. In Fitnessgram Testing, students learn about the five aspects of fitness: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition. The goal is to introduce each child to skills and fitness in a way that will lead to a lifetime of enjoyable physical activity.
The art curriculum focuses on process as well as the finished product, integrating the study of aesthetics, art criticism, art history and art production. In class, expert instructors encourage students to concentrate, respond to, understand and assess art with a critical eye. The objective of the program is to provide balanced art instruction and a strong foundation for all Davis lower school students. This is achieved through a strong emphasis on visual perception, drawing skills and understanding the elements of design: line, shape, color and texture. Student work is proudly displayed throughout the building, further nurturing an appreciation for both process and product.
The Davis Academy music curriculum is based on the National Standards of Music and is designed to instill music appreciation through a dynamic program that fosters the growth of the well-rounded child. Our younger students participate in creative movement and expression, singing and playing rhythm instruments, as well as exploring famous musicians and composers throughout music history. Students learn proper music reading fundamentals and develop keen listening skills. Classes are geared to introduce students to music from different historical time periods and cultures. All students in the lower school have the opportunity to interact with instruments with formal training beginning in third grade with the recorder, continuing with keyboard in fourth grade and the ukulele in fifth grade. Students enjoy many opportunities to perform in the classroom, during recitals and at larger school events. All students in Mechina – 8th grade are invited to participate in the annual school musical.
Media and Technology
Students in first through third grade alternate visits to the Media Center and the Technology Lab designed specifically for younger students. Fourth and Fifth grade students visit the Media Center every other week and attend a technology exploratory class three times per week throughout a nine week period.
Media Center visits for all students include an instructional lesson, story time, and book check out. Technology Lab visits include an integrated technology lesson that develops media literacy and technology skills for a globalized world. Throughout the media instruction, instructors model and students practice the standards for the 21st Century Learner as outlined by the American Association of School Librarians, which includes inquiring, thinking critically, and gaining knowledge. In addition, students learn to draw conclusions, make informed decisions, and apply knowledge to new situations, both productively and ethically, and pursue resources that encourage personal growth.
The Davis Academy has purposefully and methodically created a unique environment that supports and encourages the importance of students advocating for themselves. In the classroom and beyond the classroom, The Davis Academy is laying the foundation, setting the tone and creating a culture for students to surpass the status quo and rise to their highest possible potential.Devon Rifkin