Elementary School Program of Studies
Early Childhood Center
The Early Childhood Center at Notre Dame Academy includes our Toddlin’ Two program, Pre-K 3, Pre-K 4, and Kindergarten. We provide an integrated, content-based curriculum that engages students in investigating various concepts.
What sets us apart from other Early Childhood Programs?
Our commitment to fostering each child’s individuality, sense of self, and differentiated academic ability. We understand that each child develops at her own pace. With that in mind, we take each child’s individual gifts, and create a confident young learner. We believe that confidence is the key to any successful student. In our ECC classrooms, we celebrate every success, big or small. In the tradition of Notre Dame Academy’s all-girl environment, we are able to help each child develop academically, socially, and spiritually.
What are we learning?
Our activities are designed to foster the transitional needs of our young girls. Our daily schedule helps to nurture and provide easy transitions. The children become active participants in our day by interacting with teachers and peers. Our liberating education provides each student with a sense of empathy for others, confidence, love, respect, and gratitude. We teach each young student to be independent, and an agent of her own transformation.
Reading and Language Arts
Our Reading and Language Art program is introduced as early as Pre-K 3. The students are introduced to phonological and phonemic awareness, listening, speaking, vocabulary, and the writing process. We provide free choice, play-based centers for students to reinforce what the children are learning. The children are learning to independently engage in activities and small group learning that provide growth in rhyming, letter identification and sounds, book sense, story sequencing, handwriting, prewriting and writing skills. Secret readers visit weekly to enhance this experience.
Our Envision Math program helps Kindergarten students engage in activities and games that enable them to make mathematical connections. Students are constantly discovering with manipulatives to make patterns, count and identify numbers, explore spatial relations, number sense, and shape identification. We use the help of technology to reinforce these skills. Students use iPads, Chromebooks, and an Interactive Television in the classroom daily.
Science & Social Studies
Students learn and discover connections, throughout our beautiful 13 acre campus. Our campus is part of our classroom. You can always find early childhood students, exploring our on-campus garden, taking spring and fall walks to discover hands-on what is changing in the environment around them. Our social studies program is focused on our community. Frequent visitors from our community, such as firefighters and police officers, enrich the social studies curriculum.
Students have access to iPads and laptops to explore science, technology, engineering, and math using a variety of programs and websites. In addition to basic skills using iPad and laptops, students also begin the foundation work for coding and computer science. Core Concepts include Digital Citizenship, Sequencing, Loops, and Events.
Fine and Gross Motor
We play outside on sunny days, and inside when it rains. Our little hands and little feet are busy everyday! Students participate in daily fingerplays, handwriting activities, jumping, skipping, hopping, throwing, and running. We have daily songs and dances that enhance our gross motor development. During Center Time, students work on pencil grip, cutting, lacing, zipping, and buttoning to help develop fine motor skills.
Notre Dame Academy was founded over 120 years ago with a vision from our patron Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys. “When the heart is open from the sun of grace, we see flowers blossom in their fragrance; these are seen to have profited by the word of God.” -The writings of Marguerite Bourgeoys. The teachers in the Early Childhood Center see the girls as flowers blossoming into individuals, as they are taught the word of God. The girls are included in trips to the campus Chapel for special events and prayer. They are taught to love each other, as God loves us. They are taught to love themselves as God loves them.
Notre Dame Academy offers art, music, physical education and technology. Throughout the year NDA girls learn to cook, design and build; in small groups, large groups, and independently. Many fun and educational activities are performed throughout the year to enrich the curriculum like caring for eggs and watching in wonder as the hatchlings grow or enjoying some exposure to the French language thanks to their “big sisters” in the high school
The ECC hosts many special events throughout the year. Fostering a sense of community and belonging. The teachers create traditions to enhance the curriculum. Our “big sister” program gives our 8th graders a chance to interact with their “little sisters.” Special activities are planned throughout the year. These activities create everlasting bonds between the girls, and create beautiful memories. Below you will find a list of special events the students participate in throughout the year.
• Pre-K Thanksgiving Play and Feast: The girls participate in a short reenactment of the First Thanksgiving, followed by a small feast of traditional Thanksgiving foods.
• Kindergarten Mother’s Day Tea: The girls spend the morning with their moms and serve them special tea and cookies.
• Pre-K Muffins with Mom: The girls share a muffin and special gift with their moms.
• Pre-K 3 “Stepping Up Ceremony”: Pre-K 3 celebrates all they have accomplished this year with special songs and a slide show.
• Pre-K 4 and Kindergarten Graduations: The girls celebrate moving on to a new grade with special songs, poems and a slideshow.
Primary Grades (1-5)
Our primary grade program ensures that each girl masters the foundational skills necessary to advance, embody, and excel in all components of her educational experience in order to successfully embark onto her middle school years.
What are we learning?
Grades 1-5 utilize an integrated literacy program to meet Common Core standards. Student learning is focused on reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Students are exposed to authentic and complex literature and informational texts which are designed to get students ready for their next level of education. Students and teachers collaborate throughout the instructional process to grow students’ understanding and knowledge.
Students in grades 1-5 develop math skills which help them make sense of problems and equip them to persevere in solving them. They are challenged to reason abstractly and quantitatively, construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. Students are given many opportunities to model with mathematics and to strategically attend to precision using appropriate tools.
Grades 1-5 combine a hands-on approach and exposure to informational texts to meet standards. Through the use of technology and experimentation, students across the grades are challenged to ask questions, research, plan and problem solve, and construct explanations and design solutions.
Grades 1-5 have access to laptops to explore science, technology, engineering, and math using a variety of programs and websites. Our new Computer Science Curriculum is impressive due to its depth of material, age appropriate content, ease of use, and opportunity for advancement. This robust program is rooted in inquiry, problem solving, collaboration and computational thinking skills. Furthermore, the foundational coding students learn will prepare them for AP level computer science courses in high school.
The Core Concepts for Students in Grades 1 -5 include Digital Citizenship, Sequencing, Loops, Variables, Conditionals and Binary Numbers.
The focus of the social studies program in grades 1-3 is on communities past and present. This foundation prepares students in the fourth grade to study the history of New York State from prehistoric times to the American Revolution. The fifth grade students learn about early American history and later focus on the cultures of Canada and Latin America.
Faith, community, and service are at the heart of the Primary Grades Religion curriculum. As faithful members of the Notre Dame community, students learn and model core Catholic values in every facet of their school day. First Grade focuses on the community of the Church and the life-long values they can take and apply from the early teachings of Jesus. As Second Grade prepares to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion, they learn about God’s forgiveness and unending love while exploring the different parts of the Mass. Third Grade students learn about the Blessed Trinity and study the history of the Church and its teachings. They explore the parts of the Mass, learn about the sacraments, and recognize their roles as disciples of Jesus. Fourth Grade learns how to live as a disciple of Jesus through the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. Fifth graders take an in-depth journey into the history and spiritual significance of the seven Sacraments.
Middle School (6-8)
What are we learning?
Math at Notre Dame is alive, interactive, and innovative. The focus is on building math confidence as students develop critical strategies they need to use when solving problems. Students work collaboratively on exciting practical applications and explore various levels of STEM activities as they hone skills necessary for deep conceptual understanding. They are engaged in realistic applications of mathematics through project-based learning which includes situations such as purchasing their first car, modifying blueprints for a shopping mall, and creating mathematically proportioned scale drawings from actual measurements. Students learn that math requires dedication and concentration, but that the path towards understanding can be filled with joy and magic and has infinite possibilities. Capable 8th-grade students are offered the opportunity to participate in the NYS Algebra I 9th grade Regents course and exam.
Our Language Arts course is designed to foster the love of literature. This course emphasizes advanced skills in reading, writing, speaking, and presenting. The development of critical reading and writing skills is achieved as we explore various literary genres. There is a strong emphasis on grammar, vocabulary, and composition skills. Students discover ways to take a critical approach to reading and writing as they connect the meanings of texts. Literature study and detailed composition go hand in hand as the girls learn to showcase their knowledge of the written word. This instruction provides our students with sophisticated techniques for success in writing at a higher level. Independent thinking will be fostered through logical and insightful analysis of critical works and classic literature. It is our goal that the characters we encounter during our reading experiences tend to remain in our hearts throughout our lives.
Our social studies program transforms middle school social studies classes into multi-faceted learning experiences. The lessons start with a big idea — the Essential Question — and incorporate note taking, group work, and step-by-step discovery. Students are engaged in lively town meetings, political debates, archaeological excavations, cave explorations, and much more. With the focus maintained on the student, instruction taps into a variety of learning styles, allowing students of all abilities to learn and succeed.
Beginning with the history of the human story, students explore the great early civilizations of Egypt, India, China, Greece, and Rome. They discover the secrets of these ancient cultures that continue to influence the modern world. Continuing with the story of the United States from the pre-colonial era to the 21st century, students begin to understand the intricacies of the social world and how the United States has developed into an influential country in today’s world.
The goal of the junior high science program is to instill in students a love of science through engaging, inquiry-based activities and lessons in biology, human anatomy, physics, engineering, chemistry, and earth science. Laboratory activities might include observing cells under a microscope, dissecting organisms, observing cellular respiration in yeast cells, applying physics topics to engineering challenges, observing and collecting data from chemical reactions, gathering and analyzing astronomical, meteorological, and geological data, and discovering the unique geology of Staten Island. Students are continuously challenged to think critically, develop controlled experiments, and analyze scientific data as they explore real world science. Capable 8th-grade students are offered the opportunity to participate in the NYS Earth Science Regents course and exam.
In grades Pre K through 2 the students are introduced to music and motion appropriate for their age but they are also preparing for performance. In preparation for performance, even our youngest girls learn to follow a director, sing in groups which encourages great self-control and all while having fun. As we progress through the years the music expectations become more challenging.
Grade 3 students are introduced to Recorder. This is an opportunity to learn to read music and understand the music theory that is behind playing any instrument from wind to piano to string. It’s a perfect tool for young children to begin the journey of music education toward the focus of playing an instrument. Opportunities for performance occur throughout the year.
By the time our students reach 3rd grade they are also developing the skill involved to successfully sing in harmony. Although the harmony may be simple at first it is crucial in developing an ear for more complex harmony to follow. Grades 3 - 5 are by this time enjoying the rewards of singing in harmony at all of our performances.
Grades 6 - 8 are now developing skills for more complex harmony and are confident and poised performers. These are the years where those students who wish to take music to another level are invited to join Choir. Choir offers opportunities for solos and further reinforces performance and confidence.
The goal being music appreciation, basic theory, confidence, cooperation, and stage presence starts young and develops naturally through the years here at Notre Dame. We strive to create a well rounded young lady with a love of music in a world where there are so much stress and competition. Through music, each girl can develop to her own potential and find her own passion.
In grades 4-5, students take quizzes and tests to reinforce vocabulary and grammar they have learned in class. The students also begin to receive a letter grade on their report card.
Grades Kindergarten through 4th grade are introduced to team structure and team sports appropriate for their age group. Students learn how to use teamwork and sportsmanship during games and exercises. All students participate in warm-ups, relays, and group games. Students learn all the basics for sports such as basketball, soccer, kickball, softball, and others. As we progress through the years, the workouts and team sports become more challenging but always fun.
Grades 5 through 8th, while still learning the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship, are now ready for more complex exercises and team sports. They will develop the skills to be more confident about participating in certain tasks and sports. Students learn all skills for volleyball, especially for when they're in 8th grade, and challenge the Faculty during Catholic Schools Week. They participate in sports more in-depth and really focus on team building.
The goal for our physical education class is to instill confidence, learn to follow directions and rules, learn various sports and team games, learn different types of exercise, all while having a good time and able to express themselves.
At Notre Dame Academy Elementary School, we are proud to share a new program being implemented. Educate 2B is a program that uses breath, movement and mindfulness to help students improve their self-awareness, self-control and confidence, in order to learn and interact more effectively. For more information about this beneficial program and the physiology behind it, click on this link: https://zensationalkids.com/ Our teachers have received training in this program and are implementing activities each school day throughout the year. Most Educate 2B exercises take about 90 seconds; they are simple but powerful.
The teachers have been introducing and reinforcing the exercises, and we all feel the benefits. You may hear your daughter even utilizing them at home. When things were getting a little rowdy on a playdate, one parent reports overhearing her daughter saying, “We’ve got to calm down, guys! Let’s do Melting Butter!”
We hope that they are using these breath, movement and mindfulness exercises at home. Our hope is that the girls will take these skills with them everywhere they go. Even our staff members are participating in the daily practices. Feel free to borrow some of these strategies, as well. Modeling is an excellent teaching strategy, and even adults can benefit from this program!
1:1 Google Chromebook Program
The 1:1 Google Chromebook Program enables teachers to create more powerful learning opportunities for students and help transform instruction in core subject areas.
It builds on the general technology program by adding topics and skills that include:
- Being responsible for a laptop
- Digital Citizenship (proper use of technology)
- Organizing and maintaining a school-issued gmail account
- Google and Gmail applications such as Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, etc.
- Managing file organization by creating folders and naming files appropriately
- Creating, retrieving, and submitting assignments digitally
- Test taking skills in a computer-based setting
Using the Google platform, students at increasing levels of independence through the grade levels learn to:
- use gmail through the use of their own Notre Dame Academy issued email accounts;
- access teacher-created materials from anywhere, at any time, and from any device with internet accessibility;
- complete, submit, and receive feedback on assignments directly on the digital version, eliminating the need for using paper and the possibility of losing the original copy;
- create documents, presentations, and spreadsheets for school assignments;
- access vast sources of approved learning materials, including YouTube for Education, via the NDA wireless internet and content-filtering system; and
- collaborate on assignments with other students remotely—all students who are working on a group project can access, view, and edit the same shared document at one time from various locations, making it easier and more efficient to accomplish the task.
Some advantages to using Google apps in the educational setting:
- All documents and changes are automatically saved.
- Documents can be created to allow for either individual or shared viewing or editing.
- Each time edits are made, prior versions are saved, making it virtually impossible to lose information; deleted text will still be accessible, as will the name of the user who deleted it.
- For everything that is added or removed on shared documents, the application color codes and labels each user’s work, so that teachers and fellow students can track changes.
- All activity on a shared document is logged, making it easier for teachers to see how much each student actually contributed to that assignment.
- Students will no longer need flash drives or have to email themselves copies of their assignments, eliminating the confusion that always arises when there is more than one version of a document.
To this end, Notre Dame chose Chromebooks because they:
- support the Google platform
- have been designed as learning tools to be used in an educational setting
- allow for a suitable amount of adult control and supervision, and
- do not require a substantial financial investment. The lease-to-own style program for students entering 6th grade calls for three, annual payments and students keep the devices upon 8th grade graduation. The total cost includes the cost of the Chromebook, insurance, and the fees associated with the required software and administrative control licenses.
Moving to a single type of technological device allows for the following benefits:
- Consistency in the type of device being used will allow for more direct and in-depth instruction.
- The teacher will be able to wirelessly project any student’s work instantly to the SmartBoard for class viewing, allowing for not only an improved level of class participation, but also a more effective method of monitoring each student’s activities on the device during instruction.
- The school will be able to control the applications that are installed on every device, minimizing the presence of distractions like games, instant messaging, or social media apps.
- The teacher will be able to disable certain features temporarily (such as the use of the Internet during a test) or on a long-term basis (like Instant Messenger).
- The school can ensure that special software is installed on each device allowing NDA teachers and administration to monitor student use of the internet, NDA gmail, and the Google platform. This will be helpful in investigating the misuse of these tools and assigning consequences.
Once mastered, the students will be able to easily adapt these skills to any platform and any virtual classroom they encounter in the future.
These tools are critical in the current learning environment where remote learning has become a reality. We are proud that our students are well prepared for learning whether it be in-person or remote. And looking to the future, as computer-based style assessments are becoming the standard and higher education is increasingly utilizing digital learning, our students will continue to be exceptionally prepared for high school and beyond.
Technology as a Tool for Instruction
Notre Dame Academy Elementary School is committed to innovation and the use of technology as a tool for instruction.
Rather than having students leave the classroom to use technology as a separate space, students use devices throughout the day as a learning tool. An internal Technology Team composed of administrators and faculty members from across the grade levels worked to develop units and lessons that are highly motivating, utilize small group instruction where appropriate, differentiate instruction and integrate technology skills into the curriculum.
All classrooms are outfitted with interactive televisions or SmartBoards which improves instruction by enabling teachers to create interactive presentations for students and deliver content more creatively.
Each student in Kindergarten through 8th grade is assigned a Chromebook for daily use and access to Google Classroom and other applications for education. Pre-Kindergarten classrooms have access to class sets of iPads and Chromebooks so students can develop basic skills and work on individual or small group activities tailored to their ability levels.
In addition, the school offers:
- Grades K to 3 ~ a set of Spheros to acquire prerequisite skills for robotics
- Grades 4 and 5 ~ WeDo 2.0 robotics kits
- Grades 6 to 8 ~ MindStorm EV3 kits
All students benefit from a Pre-Kindergarten to 12th Grade Computer Science Curriculum. Other relevant activities include research and access to highly engaging learning materials at varied levels of difficulty to facilitate differentiated instruction.
STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) is a course available to students in grade 6 to 8 as a part of a larger electives program. This hands-on course is highly motivating and helps students develop problem solving and higher order thinking skills as they learn about these exciting disciplines using an integrated approach.
Students in grades 6 to 8 use TCI, a fully interactive, software-based Social Studies program that has allowed for not only the more fluid integration of technology skills, but also the ability for students to have access to a variety of leveled materials and complete and submit work electronically. They also have access to online textbooks and resources.
IXL is utilized across most grade levels to enable students to work on specific strategies identified as strengths or areas of growth at their own individual needs and paces.
Proper use, or “citizenship,” has been a focus, and students practice responsible use of technology not only by handling the equipment appropriately, but also by following communication guidelines and rules.