As a public school, Unity follows the Common Core Standards. These standards provide clear and specific benchmarks for student achievement in nine content areas. The current standards reflect current research, exemplary practices, national and state standards and standards from other countries. In each content area, standards and cumulative progress indicators align with the knowledge and skills needed for post-secondary education and the workplace.
Whether it is writing a sentence to go with a picture in Kindergarten, or completing and presenting a Ringo book report as a 3rd grade student, or writing a persuasive essay on civil rights as a 7th grade student, reading and writing is an important part of daily life at Unity.
We use the Treasures comprehensive reading and language arts curriculum by Macmillan McGraw-Hill, as well as guided reading. Reading evaluations using the “DRA” Developmental Reading Assessment are given to each student three times per year, and small group instruction is recommended for those children who need additional help to achieve grade level proficiency.
We utilize the Lucy Calkins Writers Workshop approach to writing. Students are encouraged to write creatively, and given instruction in the writing process of prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing, which will help students to develop confidence in themselves as writers and strengthen their writing skills. Other writing styles are also explored, such as descriptive, narrative, compare/contrast, persuasive, and expository. Literature circles are used in all grades levels for cooperative learning.
Spelling and grammar is explored through the Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt curriculum in the lower grades. The Wordly Wise program is used in the upper grades.
Social studies is approached as a multi-disciplinary subject area where students will be exposed to reading, writing, individual and group projects, cooperative learning activities, plays, poetry and art and music, depending on the topic and grade level.
The middle school utilizes interdisciplinary active-learner units focused on Egypt, Rome and the Middle Ages. Students will learn an appreciation of and celebration of the diversity of people and places in our planet, as well a connection to the larger community.
Our standards are aligned with the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards. Examples of some of the units taught in social studies are:
- History – Colonial America, American Revolution, history of New Jersey, the ancient world, the medieval period
- Geography – physical geography and topography, local, national and international geography
- Social Relationships – Family, Community, Immigration,
- Other Cultures – Native American cultures, other world cultures
- Government – structure of local and national government, civics
From Kindergarten through 6th grade, we will be utilizing the Math in Focus (Singapore Math) starting in Fall 2012. This program emphasizes concept mastery, and makes use of math manipulatives makes the concept of numbers more concrete. In the upper grades, we utilize the Holt McDougal Passport to Mathematics curriculum. For more advanced students, we utilize the University of Nebraska – Lincoln independent online study courses for algebra and geometry, with teacher guidance.
At Unity, science is integrated with daily life through the EfS (Education for Sustainability) units, multi-disciplinary units and experiential learning. Additionally, students explore science through the Putnam/Northern Westchester Boces science curriculum.
Scientific concepts such as prediction, formulation of hypotheses, observation, measurement and data collection are emphasized, along with a healthy respect and understanding of the planet. Students are encouraged to develop logical thinking and problem solving skills.
We now have a wonderfully outfitted Science Room, where learning groups can go to practice science in a hands-on way. A school wide Science Fair is held in the Winter. Additionally, the upper grades are involved in a number of special projects such as the Lexus Eco Challenge and the JCP&L Junior Solar Sprint Challenge.
Field trips are an important experiential part of the curriculum. Some recent examples are:
- Meadowlands Environmental Center to study the meadowlands as an ecosystem
- Pyramid Mountain to study geological formations
- Franklin Mineral Museum to study rocks and mineral
- The Audubon Center in Basking Ridge to study stream ecology
- Tourne County Park to study the native and invasive species of New Jersey
- “Classroom on the Waves” – the Clearwater Sloop on the Hudson River