Curriculum

The coherent, sequenced way we approach history, science, reading and writing is what really makes ICS  different. We’ve also thought carefully about how these classes work together to support your child’s success.

Schools like ICS are critical to our efforts to achieve greater diversity at selective schools  – Lisa Greenwald, Ph.D., History Teacher, Stuyvesant High School

We use the Core Knowledge sequence for english instruction. This program is comprised of two parts: In skills instruction we teach the children about letter-sound correspondence, writing, and eventually grammar. In the listening and learning unit, a separate part of the day, we read stories from a range of different domains including history, literature, and science over the course of the year. From year to year we revisit certain critical topics to deepen the children’s knowledge.

Shander Valdes 1st GradeThus in 2nd grade the students might read, or listen to, a story about Poseidon from D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths. They learn the names of the Greek Gods, and gain an initial understanding of how Athenians saw the world. This primes their brains so that in 5th grade when they read Gillian Cross’s beautiful adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey their cognitive energy is focused on the drama and the writing, and not learning the names of the characters. By 9th grade they are ready to take on Homer in the original.

Similarly, we teach the kindergarteners about My Five Senses in kindergarten, then several body systems in 1st grade, and the brain in 5th grade.

We use Eureka Math for math instruction, which follows a program of guided discovery that balances concrete and symbolic learning. Children begin by learning about place value and cardinality, and move on to addition and subtraction and then multiplication and division, so that by 5th grade they can understand fractions.

the way that ICS has embraced the demands of the Common Core State Standards should, I believe, serve as a model to other schools throughout New York City. Stephen Pierson,  Youth and Education Committee Member, Community Board 2

Our science program is similarly structured to cover biology, earth science, chemistry and physics over a 5 year cycle; you can read about it here

In our art program, besides learning about lines and shapes, kindergarteners will look at ancient sculptures such as the terra cotta warriors of Xi’an China, and ancient buildings like the Parthenon of Athens. As they progress through art, drawing and painting and making sculptures with clay, your child will examine structures and art from the same eras they are studying in history. Les_Demoiselles_d'AvignonSo if fifth grader is looking at a painting like Les demoiselles d’avignon they can place Picasso’s work in the context of ancient Greek ideals of female beauty like The Venus de Milo or more contemporary paintings by Sargent or Rousseau.

A Typical Day

So what is a typical day like?  Like at most elementary schools, there’s plenty of reading and math. But the kids also get yoga, art, music, recess, snack, and free play.

We start at 8:00 and go ’til 4:00 pm, but the children are active and engaged, so it goes fast for them. Proof that Einstein was on to something with his General Theory of Relativity.

In kindergarten they get a rest time as well. A typical day could looks like this

8:00-8:45 Morning Meeting
8:50-9:40 Skills Instruction
9:45-10:30 Math
10:30-10:45 Snack
10:50-11:40 Art, Music, Gym, Dance (rotating)
11:45-12:45 Lunch and Recess
12:45-1:05 Quiet Time
1:10-2:10 Listening and Learning
2:10-3:00 Small Group Instruction
3:05-3:35 Choice Time

ICS views recess and gym as subjects equal in value to math or geography, for the opportunities they provide our students to negotiate, collaborate and relax.

On Thursdays our teachers will set aside time for professional development starting at 1 pm. While some parents may want to plan their own activities, we offer after care with Kids Orbit and Dance with Mark Morris Dance Group and Music with the Brooklyn Music School. We are always on the lookout for new opportunities to expand the after school offerings.

We will use technology smartly, where it helps teachers to assess reliably how and when our students are learning. Many experts think technology is a promising aid for developing math fact fluency.