The core tasks of elementary school are to teach children to read, write, count and think. At Eitz Chaim, we use outstanding literacy and numeracy programs and powerful teaching strategies to help students reach their full potential in these core subjects.
Our general studies program meets or exceeds Ontario Ministry of Education curriculum requirements. Standardized testing is done on a yearly basis at various grade levels. We are delighted that our students continually score above both the provincial and national average. Exceptional programs in Language, Mathematics, History, Geography, and Science provide the skills required for high school and university. In addition to the core subjects, students learn Music, Art, Keyboarding and Physical Education; Home Economics is introduced in grade 7 and French is introduced in grades 7 and 8.
Balanced Literacy or Comprehensive Literacy is considered the best approach to teaching literacy in the English-speaking world. The overall purpose of balanced literacy instruction is to provide students with a differentiated instructional program to support their skill development in reading and writing.
Balanced Literacy revolves around the Reading and Writing Workshop Model, which has the teacher scaffold the instruction in stages, moving from shared reading, during which the class reads together, to guided reading, during which the teacher actively supports the students’ reading of stories geared toward their level of skill, and finally to students’ reading independently. A similar approach is taken in writing, whereby the teacher models the correct conventions of writing, moving from interactive writing to independent writing. As students build confidence and become more proficient, teachers gradually withdraw support. Direct instruction in phonics and word study are also included in the Balanced Literacy approach.
The First Steps writing program is currently in use in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Writing models presented in First Steps are used in a variety of subjects. Thus, when grade 5 students learn about extreme weather in Science, they use the Descriptive Writing model to write about tsunamis, tornadoes, and avalanches. In grade 6, students write a lab report about their experiment with hot air balloons and write about how heat makes air rise with the Writing to Explain model. In grade 7 Geography, students write essays on the different sources of energy using the Persuasive Writing model. Finally, grade 8 students write and present an oral book report on a Holocaust memoir they have read. The First Steps program is also used in Language Arts. Teachers learn how to assess and monitor the literacy development of their students and to link this assessment to developmentally appropriate teaching strategies.
The textbook Math Makes Sense is used from grades 1 to 6. This program provides students with an understanding of math concepts and helps them to develop critical thinking skills. Math Makes Sense emphasizes making connections to the real world. Computational skills, problem solving, and skill building are taught at all levels from grades 1 to 8.