Program of Studies
The elementary curriculum is based on contemporary methods and materials employed by schools in the United States.
The program of studies includes Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, Italian (for native and non-native speakers), Art, Music, Physical Education, Technology, English as Additional Language (crucial support for students not yet proficient in English), and Resource (for students needing additional support due to mild learning disabilities).
Our goal is to provide a developmentally appropriate and individualized learning environment for each child to enable him/her to grow cognitively, physically, emotionally and socially. Our classrooms are “child-centered.” We facilitate and guide children to make appropriate choices and stretch a child's mind with new experiences and activities daily. We believe that through differentiation we are able to support and challenge the students who attend AOSR.
- Elementary Art
- Elementary Technology
- English As Additional Language (EAL)
- Elementary Language Arts
- Elementary Math
- Elementary Music
- Elementary Physical Education
- Elementary Science
- Elementary Social Studies
- Italian for Non-Native
- Italian for Native-Mother Tongue
The art program at AOSR provides a warm, friendly and creative atmosphere to stimulate students to learn and work to the best of their potential. Children in Kindergarten to Grade 5 meet twice a week for a 40 minute period.
The goal of the Art program is to develop a child's level of creative thinking, an awareness of life and an appreciation of the aesthetic world around him/her. Classes are taught by an art specialist. The students learn the basic concepts of art, the principles and elements of line, shape, form, color, value, pattern, texture and space. As they learn a variety of techniques in drawing, painting, collage, paper construction, print making, ceramics and crafts they are encouraged to find individual and original solutions to artistic problems.
Students are exposed to a broad range of both traditional and contemporary media, have opportunities for self-expression in their work, are encouraged to problem solve and to broaden their understanding using the language and vocabulary of art. Students are encouraged to make personal connections with who they are and how they fit into this diverse world using art as a tool. Students also learn to evaluate their work and make decisions.
Art experiences are coordinated with other areas of the curriculum. The art department works with the music department to prepare the United Nations Day Concert, The Winter Concert and The Spring Concert. Classroom teachers and the art teacher work together to increase and stimulate learning experiences through art. Special projects are done on Ancient Egypt in the 2nd Grade, Ancient Greece in the 3rd Grade and Ancient Rome in the 4th and 5th Grade. These projects include mural painting, pottery, sculpture, and mosaics.
Elementary technology instruction is an integrated approach that aims to make students comfortable and proficient with computers and computer software by the 5th grade.The curriculum is based on the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) which include creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, research and information fluency, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making, digital citizenship and technology operations and concepts.
Classes are held once a week for a 40 minute session with the technology teacher. An additional time during the week is provided in collaboration with the classroom teacher. Students develop technology skills and knowledge through interactive, online activities and curricula. Students also create and publish curricula-based multi-media projects both independently and collaboratively as they work toward mastery of the standards.
In our elementary technology lab, each student works on his/her own Mac computer. All of the computers are part of the school network, so students are taught the general guidelines necessary for responsible use of network resources.
In grades Kindergarten, 1 and 2, students use iPads in classroom learning centers.
In grades three, four and five, students have access to laptops in the classroom setting and use them for creative writing, science and social studies projects and math practice.
The Elementary School of AOSR is proud to be the first international school in Rome to provide a formal EAL program. The EAL specialists, in liaison with the classroom teachers, work to help the children gain mastery of the English language and to enable them to successfully meet the challenges of school life.
The program aims to combine English language development with content-based activities so that students not only learn to use English as a medium of thought but also learn to master the specific language skills encountered within their daily classroom.
It is important to note that research and best practice demonstrate that language acquisition follows developmental stages; however, language acquisition varies among students depending on proficiency and literacy in native language, motivation, learning styles, parent expectations and the learning environment. Language acquisition is a long-term process which may require up to ten years of specific and consistent language instruction in order to achieve the same level of proficiency in academic English as native speakers. Developing a student’s mother tongue is beneficial for his/her academic achievement and self-esteem.With this in mind, at AOSR we believe that all teachers are responsible for the education of English Language Learners (ELLs).
The AERO (American Education Reaches Out) English Language Arts Curriculum Framework, including standards and performance indicators, is the basis for our instruction. The language arts program in the Elementary School is taught through a balanced literacy approach that integrates reading, writing, listening and speaking. Literacy expectations include the use of oral and written language to make sense of the world and to communicate, problem solve, and participate in decision-making. The foundation for these literacy skills is language and an understanding of how language works. Language arts teaching in the Elementary School is both integrated and cross-curricular. A variety of programs and resources are in implementation to support this curriculum framework. In addition, extensive classroom libraries, a leveled book room, our Elementary School Library as well as a variety of online reading programs support our balanced approach to literacy instruction.
Reading instruction at the Elementary School is aimed at encouraging children to read for pleasure and to satisfy their natural curiosity in the world around them.
This is fostered by:
- ensuring that children are presented with material at their own level of ability;
- guiding children to pick “just right” books depending on their fluency, decoding skills, vocabulary understanding and comprehension ability;
- teaching children how to reflect on what is read, ask questions, make connections and determine an author’s purpose;
- providing a print rich environment;
- instilling the basic phonic and word-attack skills to enable the child to successfully decode the written word;
- teaching key strategies to help solve any comprehension problems that may be encountered;
- carefully assessing children's progress through a variety of assessments that inform future instruction;
- encouraging pupils to select books in the Elementary School Library either for their personal enjoyment or for research;
- instructing students on how to interpret fiction and informational text and how to effectively research and present what is learned.
As expounded in the AERO English Language Arts framework, the enduring understandings are for readers to use strategies to construct meaning and to use language structure and context clues to identify the intended meaning of words and phrases as they are used in text. Strategic readers develop, select, and apply strategies to enhance their comprehension and recognize the power of words to affect meaning.
Writing in the Elementary School is stimulated by the pupils' interests, experiences and events taking place in the world around them. They have the opportunity to gain experience in many types of written communication, from creative prose and poetry, to factual reports and literary appreciation. The National Council of Teachers of English Commission on Composition noted that writing is a powerful instrument of thought. In the act of composing, writers learn about themselves and their world and communicate their insights to others. Writing fosters the power to grow personally and to influence change in the world.
The school helps the child communicate in a coherent, effective manner by:
- providing them with an atmosphere of encouragement, praise and meaningful practice, which allows them to build confidence in their ability in this area;
- teaching the necessary spelling, grammar and punctuation skills;
- encouraging students to revise and edit their work;
- writing in a variety of genres.
The 6 +1 Traits writing framework provides a common structure and language that define what proficient writing looks like. Ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions and presentation are aspects of the assessment of student work.
In regards to oral communication, from Kindergarten onwards, pupils are encouraged to express their experiences, ideas and opinions through:
- "show-and-tell" sessions, where the child presents to the class objects of personal interest, or connected to an area of study;
- presentation of creative writing, or individual projects or reports;
- discussions emanating from all curricular areas, public speaking and the presentation of plays.
The curriculum structure is provided by the AERO (American Education Reaches Out) Standards. Students learn the importance of both conceptual understanding and procedural methods through a variety of materials and programs. AERO explains that “most problems that students will encounter in the real world are multi-step or process problems. Solution of these problems involves the integration of conceptual understanding and procedural knowledge. Students need to have a broad range of strategies upon which to draw. Selection of a strategy for finding the solution to a problem is often the most difficult part of the solution. Therefore, mathematics instruction must include the teaching of many strategies to empower all students to become successful problem solvers.”
It is of utmost importance in the Elementary School that children gain understanding in mathematical concepts through meaningful experiences. The aim is to help the child gain the relevant skills in math in order to approach problem-solving in a confident, logical manner.
To develop these capacities in pupils, the Elementary School provides:
- structured mathematical experiences in the classroom that help the child recognize the relevance of math to everyday life;
- relevant instructional material to help the child move through the necessary developmental stages leading from the concrete to the abstract including developing strong number sense and flexibility in thinking mathematically;
- teaching approaches and work presented to suit the children's individual needs and levels of ability thus differentiating the curriculum as needed;
- monitoring of the children's growth through chapter, unit, and cumulative evaluation as well as classroom participation and involvement.
Overall, the Elementary School's Music Program stresses creativity at every level and in very medium - singing, speaking and moving - because it is believed that what the children create will be the most thoroughly learned. Through this program, a love of all kinds of music is gradually developed on a firm foundation, and musical literacy and understanding are increased. The Pre-K and Elementary classes meet twice a week, for a 30/40 minute period, throughout the school year.
The program is taught by certified music specialists. Teachers use melody, rhythm, movement and speech to involve the whole child. The basic elements of pitch, dynamics/intensity, duration, form, timbre, tempo and texture/harmony are specific educational goals which are taught by means of games, folklore, chants, poetry, word patterns, dramatic plays, dance, music notation and especially singing.
Music is also linked to the academic curriculum to teach and reinforce such concepts as cultural awareness, colors, sounds, counting, sequencing, history, geography and English. Elementary art and music work closely together to prepare for concert performances.
Through involvement in an active music program, children learn to participate in a group or ensemble at their own level of achievement and to experience the delight and satisfaction this participation brings. Singing in the languages of the cultures represented by the student body is a very important activity. All the major nationalities in the school are recognized through a common artistic venue which is enjoyable for everyone involved. There are three annual concerts scheduled throughout the school year: the United Nations Day, the Winter Concert and the Spring Concert.Students are also taught to play simple instruments such as Orff xylophones, hand percussion and recorders. These activities reinforce the basic goals of the program.
The physical education program considers age ability levels to allow for the participation by all in structured classes. The Pre-K classes meet twice weekly. The elementary classes meet three times weekly.
The development of major motor skills, specific team and individual sport skills, the ability to follow group instructions and sportsmanship are emphasized as goals. Recognition and consideration of cultural differences in sports and games, language abilities, and personal physical development allow for the inclusion of all students.Specific skills at all levels include the following: ability to identify specific muscle groups and understand their purpose and range of movement, refinement of coordination of motor skills, i.e. running at various speeds, weaving, hopping, jumping (down, up, over, and usage of jumping rope), skipping, throwing various shapes (variety of balls, frisbee, sticks, beanbags, medicine balls etc.), catching/hand eye skills, and simple stunts and tumbling routines.
Students are also introduced to the fundamentals of several sports.
The aim of the Elementary School science program is for the students to be scientifically literate and to be knowledgeable about the important concepts and theories of the three main branches of scientific study: earth, life and physical sciences. Students are provided opportunities to:
- develop a spirit of curiosity and scientific inquiry;
- develop a scientific approach to problem solving;
- be familiar with the natural world and respectful of its unity, diversity and fragility
- identify the negative as well as the positive effects of scientific development;
- develop a responsible attitude towards the future of our Planet Earth;
- use scientific knowledge to make decisions about real-world problems.
Below is a brief outline of the program:
- Kindergarten – Liquids, solids and gases. Living and non-living things. Growth and change. Seasons and weather. Conservation of resources. Observation using the five senses.
- Grade One – Study of habitats throughout the world. Food chains and life cycles. Seasonal changes and types of weather. Healthy diet including care of teeth.
- Grade Two – Matter, molecules and changes in matter. Recycling. Sound waves, light and heat. Fossils. Plants and gardening.
- Grade Three – Solar system. Simple machines. The human body.
- Grade Four – Soils, rocks and landforms. Renewal of water. Magnets and electricity. Survival of animals.
- Grade Five – Classification, kingdoms. Cells. Plants and compost. Phases of matter, atoms, molecules and quarks. Physical and chemical changes. Periodic table. Human growth and development. Global effects including conservation and preservation.
The social studies program in the Elementary School is unique to AOSR. Through a study of the development of life on earth and the growth of society in various cultural groups surrounding the Mediterranean Basin following a chronological timeline, the students gain an understanding of themselves and their relationship to the wider and ever-changing community and world around them. The school’s location in Rome blends in well with this social science approach incorporating history, geography, archaeology, art history, architecture, sociology and literature. In order to make the classroom studies more meaningful to the children, field trips, during which they can see first-hand evidence of knowledge introduced, are a vital part of the program.
Below is a brief outline of the program:
- Kindergarten – World Class Kid, Holidays and Traditions, Me and My Family, Community, Daily Living in Rome
- Grade One – Social Concepts, Traditions and Celebrations, Origins of Life, Roman Community
- Grade Two – Emergence of Early Man, Early Civilization, Ancient Sumeria and Babylon, Egypt
- Grade Three – Ancient Greece, Architecture and Pottery, Drama and Theater, Greek Myths and Legend, Colonies
- Grade Four – Alexander the Great, Aeneas, Etruscans, Seven Kings of Rome, The Roman Republic
- Grade Five – Emperors of Rome, Roman Government, Rise of Christianity, Fall of Rome, Feudalism, Introduction to Islamic Empire.
This Italian for Non-Native program is designed to provide students with the basic structures of the Italian language enabling them to communicate effectively in Italian. The classes are taught three times a week from first grade to fifth grade.
In the lower grades the students are introduced to a range of topics through games, songs and fun “hands-on” activities.
In the upper grades the emphasis is placed on speaking and listening although the students are also introduced to reading and writing.
The Italian for Native-Mother Tongue program follows the guidelines established by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research.
Detailed information about this program can be found in the following page: