St. Joan of Arc School provides a challenging academic curriculum based on the national Common Core and Illinois State Learning Standards, in conjunction with guidelines from the Archdiocese of Chicago. The core curriculum is enriched with religion, technology, foreign language, fine arts, and physical education instruction. The Saint Joan of Arc program is focused on educating the whole child so that our students are prepared to lead successful lives once they graduate. SJA teachers utilize research based instructional strategies, project-based learning, and differentiated instruction to help students reach their maximum potential.
St. Joan of Arc goes beyond following the standards based curriculum. Please read how each grade level provides an engaging and challenging academic environment for our students below.
SJA preschool is a developmental early childhood program that encourages play. We believe that children are natural learners and that their way of learning about their world is through play. In a safe, nurturing environment, we encourage the social, emotional, physical, and intellectual growth of each child at their own rate.
Every student is encouraged and expected to develop a higher order of critical thinking. The students also engage in cooperative learning throughout each day. Learning with each other and working together is involved in every activity, challenging students to achieve at high levels. The program is both academic and developmentally based. There is a computer center which is open to the students every day. Technology is integrated in the curriculum especially in the areas of phonics, reading, and math.
In first grade, children embark upon new adventures in the world of learning. Not only do students have homework for the first time, but they also begin taking tests in all core subject areas. Children learn how to read, write stories, add, subtract, and so much more. Technology is a vital component in the first grade classroom. Children use their individual I-pads daily to practice spelling words, do online guided reading, and reinforce math skills. Learning comes to life in first grade everyday as students perform hands on experiments, participate in engaging centers, and utilize manipulatives in the classroom.
Our main focus in second grade is on developing a foundation of academic and organizational skills that will help students to better prepare for, and engage in, their future academic life. For example, students learn the process of long-term planning and working in small, consistent steps in order to produce monthly chapter book report projects that explore the genres of realistic fiction, magic and fantasy, biography, mystery, and more. In projects like these, skills of time management, reading comprehension, self-expression and creative thinking through both writing and in-class oral presentations and discussions, are all developed and integrated into a final product that reflects the student’s own best work.
Our third grade students work on many exciting projects during the school year. In social studies, the students create their own personal time lines based on their lives. In addition, students work on designing a 3D community to discover the many parts of a working community. In science, students not only research animals, but create their habitats in the form of a model diorama. The science curriculum is also enriched asstudents grow and study plants. Following the study of the solar system,students visit the Museum of Science and Industry’s space exhibit. Math studies include many hands on tools and games that enhance the curriculum.
Our fourth grade students study the regions of the United States in great detail throughout the year. Closely tied to that study is fostering an understanding of how people affect the environment. Fourth graders start out the year at a three day program called Earth keepers, learning about their connection with the Earth. During the year students study the resources – both physical and human – of each region of the United States and tie them to people’s responsibility to nurture the renewable and non-renewable resources of the earth. From studying the first Native Americans to the multiple cultures of today’s census, students increase the depth of their knowledge of the world we live in. Through the use of Chromebooks and other technology available to us, students are prepared for an ever changing world.
In 5th grade, students utilize many different technological and interactive teaching tools to support and foster various learning styles. Tools implemented include a classroom document camera, selected United Streaming and Discovery Education visuals, and educational websites and programs that are exercised as both a whole class and on an individualized basis via each student’s Chromebook computer. The goals are to provide further exploration and explanation to support our State and Archdiocese Learning Standards.
At the middle school level the students begin to adapt their learning methods in preparation for high school. The classes are departmentalized and Spanish becomes part of the core curriculum. Students are able to choose an elective period each day focusing on physical education, fine arts, and their own interests. Past offerings have included yoga, drama, logic, and web design. Perhaps the highlight of the 7th and 8th grade students’ year is the annual field trip to Springfield or Washington, DC, where they have had the opportunity to meet Chief Justice John Roberts. Our students also become more involved in extra-curricular activities like Yearbook, Science Olympiad, and Student Council.