The general studies curricula employed in the pre-first through eighth grades are based principally on the California State Content Standards. While they vary from grade to grade, they represent a progressive framework through which students will develop a core set of competencies and critical thinking skills which best serve them as lifelong learners.
At every grade level, the standards cover reading, writing, written and oral English language conventions, as well as listening and speaking conventions. In pre-first through fifth grades, Emek has adopted the Houghton-Mifflin English range of instructional materials. Lessons focus on reading comprehension, writers’ workshops, and grammar. In the middle school, students in grades six through eight are expected to complete weekly vocabulary and grammar assignments, as well as regular formal writing assignments and short readings from the Holt text, Elements of Literature. Regular class novels include Homeless Bird in sixth grade, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Becoming Naomi Leon, seventh grade texts, and The Pearl and To Kill a Mockingbird, read by our eighth graders (Novels may change from year to year).
The focus of the math department is on serving the individual needs of our varied student population through differentiated groupings within individual classrooms. The State Board of Education approved Houghton-Mifflin mathematics textbooks are supplemented by grade-level appropriate skill-building exercises, manipulative use, enrichment, and challenge assignments in the elementary grades. In the middle school, each grade is broken into two tracks, determined by assessment scores and classroom-based assessment of student skills. All students are required to engage in problem solving to develop abstract, analytic thinking skills, to learn to deal effectively and comfortably with variables and equations, and to use mathematical notation effectively to model situations. The mathematics content standards for kindergarten through grade eight are organized by grade level and are presented in five strands:
Number sense, Algebra and functions, Measurement and geometry, Statistics, Data analysis and probability, and Mathematical reasoning.
In pre-first through grade three, students are introduced to the basic concepts of each discipline:
history, geography, civics, and economics. Beginning at grade four, the disciplines are woven together within the standards presented in each grade. The Houghton-Mifflin social studies series of textbooks has been adopted in both the elementary and middle school. In the early elementary grades, these texts offer a survey of historical topics, with particular focus given to California state history in grade four and to United States history in grade five. These textbooks offer a progressive framework by which students comprehensively investigate world history in grades six and seven and revisit United States history in grade eight. Scholastic News and Time Magazine for Kids are used on a supplemental basis for current events.
The history and social science standards require that students not only acquire core knowledge in history and social science, but also acquire critical thinking skills which historians and social scientists employ to study the past and its relationship to the present. To this end instructors are encouraged to make use of biographies, original documents, diaries, letters, legends, speeches, and other artifacts from our past to foster students’ understanding of historical events
by revealing the ideas, values, fears, and dreams of the people associated with them.
The California science content standards are separated into grade-level specific content from kindergarten through grade eight. A progressive set of investigative and experimental expectations exists from grades Pre-first through eighth; significant features include the focus on earth sciences in the sixth grade, life sciences in the seventh grade, and physical sciences in the eighth grade. The elementary and middle school standards provide the foundational skills and knowledge for students to learn core concepts, principles, and theories of science. The Houghton-Mifflin textbooks are organized into sets under broad concepts as content systematically increases in depth, breadth, and complexity through the grade levels. In the elementary grades, students receive a broad survey of science topics, including life science, physical science, earth science, and health. Students have the opportunity to learn science by receiving direct instruction, by reading textbooks and supplemental materials, by solving standards-based problems, and by participating in laboratory investigations and experiments.
The unique touch tank in our fully-equipped science lab is an aquarium filled with salt water fish and other sea life which enables our science teacher to tie in an ocean unit from our Earth science curriculum for both the elementary and middle school grades.