Click below to explore components of our Elementary & Middle School curriculum.
Elementary literacy instruction engages students in reading stories and literature along with more texts that provide facts and background knowledge in areas including science and social studies. They read challenging texts and engage in questions that will require them to refer back to what they have read through writing and speaking. There is also an increased emphasis on building a strong vocabulary so that students can read and understand challenging materials. Explicit instruction of foundational reading skills is critical in grades K-2 and begins with phonological awareness, a clear sequence of phonics patterns, providing direct instruction with adequate student practice, and weekly assessments and targeted support.
Elementary math builds a strong foundation of mathematical understanding that will be applied in later grades. Students develop number sense and fluency with operations using conceptual models. They develop an understanding of properties of operations and apply the properties to problem-solving. Students in elementary grades also develop an understanding of shapes and their properties, as well as collecting and representing data in various ways. They will apply what they learn in elementary mathematics to middle school mathematics and beyond. The Standards for Mathematical Practice are habits that help students develop a sense of ownership and proficiency as they engage in mathematics learning.
Research shows that young students work well in a cooperative learning environment by actively exploring phenomena in the natural world, posing questions and seeking answers as they arise. They develop simple observation, measurement, and number sense skills as they actively participate in simple investigations. During investigations, students must have the opportunity to use tools such as magnifiers, thermometers, rulers, or balances to gather data and extend their senses. They must have ample time to talk about their observations and compare them with others. They should be encouraged to employ oral language, drawings and models to communicate results and explanations of investigations and experiments. In a cooperative learning environment, students learn that when people give different descriptions of the same thing, it is better to make new observations instead of debating who is correct. When conducting simple investigations, they must always use appropriate safety procedures, including listening skills.
As students progress through the grade levels, their strategies for finding solutions to questions improve as they gain experience conducting simple investigations and working in small groups. They are capable of asking questions and making predictions that can be tested. Students must be encouraged to make more careful observations and measure things with increasing accuracy. During investigations, students must have the opportunity to use more advanced tools such as calculators, computers, graduated cylinders, scales, and meter sticks to gather data and extend their senses. They must keep accurate records and run enough trials to test a prediction to be confident of their results. They must have experiences that allow them to recognize patterns in data and use data to create reasonable explanations of an experiment or investigation results. They should be encouraged to employ more sophisticated language, drawings, models, charts and graphs to communicate results and explanations. Students must always use appropriate safety procedures when conducting simple investigations, including listening skills.
Elementary Social Studies
The North Carolina Social Studies Essential Standards are designed to ensure that our state prepares students to become informed, productive citizens. This requires an understanding of the content and skills of our discipline within the five lenses of Social Studies (including History, Geography, Culture, Civics and Government and Personal Financial Literacy). Learners in early grades gain experience with sequencing to establish a sense of order and time. They enjoy hearing stories of the recent past and those of long ago. They enjoy learning about history through the autobiographies and biographies of important people in history. In addition, they begin to recognize that individuals may hold different views about the past and understand the link between human decisions and consequences. This develops the foundation of historical knowledge, skills, and values within our local and global communities.
Middle School ELA
Middle School ELA instruction incorporates the deliberate and explicit teaching of reading skills and strategies that enable students to read with understanding. In the middle grades, students build upon their learning from the elementary grades by continuing to practice active reading strategies that allow them to self-monitor their reading. By continuing to model active reading strategies, middle-grade teachers help students become more proficient readers.
Middle School ELA instruction also teaches skills and strategies that enable students to write effectively for any purpose and intended audience. In middle school, students focus on the following features of writing: support and elaboration, organization, style, and conventions. These focus areas expand and refine writing skills that enable our students to become strategic and independent communicators. Practicing both oral and written communication skills will also prepare our students for the challenges of the 21st century. Teaching all students to read and think critically is our goal as we prepare students to be successful in school and life.
*Information adapted from ELEducation.org
EL Education is a curriculum written by and for teachers, emphasizing active learning and student engagement. Classrooms are structured with highly collaborative activities that allow students to engage in academic conversations and investigations of compelling, real-world content. E.L. Education aims to contribute to a student's ability to be globally competitive and an active contributor to building a better world.
- The Primacy of Self-Discovery: Students undertake tasks that require perseverance, fitness, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline, and significant achievement.
- The Having of Wonderful Ideas: E.L. Education fosters curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provide something important to think about, time to experiment, and time to make sense of what is observed.
- The Responsibility for Learning: E.L. Education encourages children and adults to become increasingly responsible for directing their own personal and collective learning.
- Empathy and Caring: Learning is fostered best in communities where students' and teachers' ideas are respected and mutual trust.
- Success and Failure: All students need to be successful to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges. But it is also important for students to learn from their failures, persevere when things are hard, and learn to turn disabilities into opportunities.
- Collaboration and Competition: Students are encouraged to compete, not against each other, but with their own personal best and rigorous excellence standards.
- Diversity and Inclusion: Diversity and inclusion increase the richness of ideas, creative power, problem-solving ability, and respect for others. Students investigate and value their different histories and talents and those of other communities and cultures.
- The Natural World: Students learn to become stewards of the earth and future generations.
- Solitude and Reflection: Students take time alone to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections, and create their own ideas. They also exchange their reflections with other students and with adults.
- Service and Compassion: One of an E.L. Education's primary functions is to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service.
Middle School Math
Middle School Math in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is designed to lead students to a true understanding of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study content. Students at each grade level will engage in the conceptual understanding of these standards to develop procedural fluency using the course material provided.
Students will work with numeracy and number sense, ratios and proportions, algebraic equations and expressions, statistical reasoning, and geometry in each grade level. The concepts are woven together throughout the year in the Open Up Resources curriculum. In addition, at each grade level, Honors-level courses are available, which include standards from the next grade level to prepare students for the opportunity to take high school-level courses in middle school.
Open Up Resources
In Open Up Resources, students work on carefully crafted and sequenced mathematics problems during most of the instructional time. Teachers help students understand the problems and guide discussions to ensure that the mathematical takeaways are clear. Not all mathematical knowledge can be discovered, so direct instruction is sometimes appropriate. The goal is to give students just enough background and tools to solve initial problems successfully and then set them to increasingly sophisticated problems as their expertise increases. The value of a problem-based approach is that students spend most of their time in math class doing mathematics: making sense of problems, estimating, trying different approaches, selecting and using appropriate tools, evaluating the reasonableness of their answers, interpreting the significance of their answers, noticing patterns and making generalizations, explaining their reasoning verbally and in writing, listening to the reasoning of others, and building their understanding. Mathematics is not a spectator sport.
Additionally, Open Up provides specific resources, processes, and scaffolds to ensure that our students who receive E.C. services, are English Learners, and are ahead in their math learning can access grade-level standards and higher. The goal of our curriculum is to ensure access for all students to grade-level conceptual math.
Open Up Math Family Communication
Open Up Resources provides resources to allow family members to support and learn math with their students! You can access these resources by grade level here:
Middle School Science & Social Studies
We emphasize inquiry, problem-solving, and communication. We want students to experience science as a creative, sense-making venture of solving challenging problems individually and collaboratively. The development of the ability to analyze patterns and relationships is essential for effective problem-solving. In addition, students should have the opportunity to evaluate research and data from current scientific endeavors and the chance to research their own age-appropriate questions.
Students continue to expand their understanding of the past and historical concepts and inquiry in the middle grades. They also begin a more in-depth study of World History which begins with the study of early humans in sixth grade and extends up to modern-day current events in the seventh grade. Finally, students focus on studying United States History from exploration through modern-day current events in eighth grade. Students begin to understand and appreciate differences in historical perspectives by recognizing that individual experiences, societal values, and cultural traditions influence the interpretation of historical events. In addition, they discover that science and technology bring changes that can affect values and beliefs.