The core curriculum of the Anderson School is shaped by the New York City and State Framework for grades K-8. Within the structure of our classes, there is enrichment and/or acceleration across all subject areas. A unique combination of teaching styles guides gifted children in the development of higher level thinking skills.
Our curriculum builds on fundamentals to promote a hands-on, discovery approach to learning. Children work both independently and in groups on projects that stimulate their powers of logic and imagination. Creative problem solving, divergent thinking, research, and self-evaluation are emphasized in each classroom, in tandem with more traditional skills. At the same time, our children are assisted in developing essential social skills; sensitivity to and respect for others, effective communication and self-esteem. Guiding them are talented educators whose awareness of the needs of intellectually gifted children inspires teaching that is both dynamic and nurturing.
During the summer of 2012, several Anderson School teachers and administrators developed and codified a K-8 Grading Policy. It was refined further in 2013 and again in 2014. You can find Grading Policy information for parents here. (You may need to download the document from Google Drive.)
The role of the art program at Anderson is to inspire students to explore the different ways that they can express themselves visually. The lessons are developmentally appropriate art experiences that challenge students to think about the world around them. The philosophy of the art program emphasizes our students as potential artists who view the world from their own unique perspective and experiences. These experiences are communicated through explorations with different materials such as drawing, painting, collage, printmaking and sculpture. Not only do the students begin to express themselves creatively, but they begin to learn the language of art, such as line, shape, color and form.
All art lessons are aligned with the curriculum and standards set forth by the NYC Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts, the New York State Learning Standards for the Arts and the National Visual Art Standards. The lessons work to support the standards of other disciplines such as math, literacy, science, social studies and technology. Students are expected to develop their abilities to communicate visually, orally and in written form within the Art Room/Studio. We use student artwork, art reproductions, children’s art books, picture books and technology to assist us in furthering these goals. The artistic development of each child is a blueprint for how we approach these goals. Children learn best when their learning matters to them – when it’s connected to their lives and experiences – and filled with wonder, joy and fun!
Using laptop computers, students in grades 2-5 are introduced to computer languages, word processing, databases and typing. Computers are also available in every classroom as well as in our Library Media Center.
Students in grades 6-8 utilize Apple laptop computers throughout the curriculum in social studies, English, math and science. They also receive advanced technology instruction.
In the 2013-14 school year, we opened our brand new computer lab, furnished with twenty desktop computers and a cart with laptops.
Chess, taught in kindergarten, first and second grade classrooms, promotes concentration, self-discipline and strategic thinking skills. Other enrichments in place this year include bridge for Grade 3, the Continental Math League in Grades 2-8; the WordMasters Challenges, as well as the NYC Spelling Bee in Grades 3-8. Fifth graders participate in a law program. Middle school students participate in the Debate Team, Math Team, and Science Olympiad Team. Grades 7 and 8 students send teams to the Math Counts Competition and 8th graders focus on a variety of community service projects as part of the enrichment curriculum.
Our Spanish teachers visit each class beginning in kindergarten. While Spanish is an exposure program in grades K-4, grades 5-8 students pursue a more rigorous and formal study of Spanish language and culture, incorporating expanded opportunities for students to utilize their Spanish language skills. The Anderson Middle School Spanish curriculum also includes preparation for the New York State Proficiency exam for those students who are interested in gaining high school credit.
Reading and writers' workshops are presented within the New York State curriculum guidelines. Read-aloud, accountable talk and analysis of stories are some of the components stressed within the literary program.
Throughout their K-8 years, students read short stories, poetry, novels and classic works of literature as well as the works of modern writers. Creative writing projects include poetry, fiction, feature articles, comic books, persuasive essays and literary analysis.
In grades 5-8, English Language Arts is taught as a distinct subject, independent of the social studies curriculum.
The Anderson School uses the Fountas and Pinnell Leveled Book system to match books to readers. Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell are two Reading Recovery-trained experts who developed a tool creating a gradient of text, from easiest to most challenging, using levels A to Z. Our teachers assess students to see what their independent reading level is (this is a comfortable level, where students do not have to do much work as a reader in order to get a lot of meaning from the text), and also students' instructional reading level for their work with the classroom teacher (this is a more difficult level where the demands of the text require teacher guidance and instruction). You can find a document that shows the characteristics of text for every level here. (You may need to download this pdf document if it does not open in your browser automatically.)
The mathematics curriculum is skill-based and aligned with the standards created by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). These standards guide children through the mathematics curriculum by understanding its role in everyday life. Everyday Math is incorporated into the balanced math curriculum in grades K-5 by using math books one grade level ahead. Teachers in elementary grades also use Singapore Math and Math in the City modules.
In The Anderson Middle School, the mathematics curriculum continues this acceleration and includes the Regents Integrated Algebra course.
The goal of the Anderson music program is to expose students to a variety of musical opportunities, to develop in them a broad understanding of how music is a part of our collective human experience. Our unique, standards-based, differentiated approach allows each student to discover for himself or herself how to bring music into their life: as performer, composer, arranger, critic, historian, music appreciator, or all of the above! Because our diverse student body presents a unique range of musical abilities, our program is designed to support student creativity, problem-solving and individual musical talents.
The Lower Elementary (K-2) program is a general music program for all students that weaves together singing, movement, instruments and simple music theory. The children experiment with body percussion sounds, sing folk songs from many cultures, use rhythmic speech, play music games and experience music through movement. Percussion instruments (including xylophones and metallophones) allow them to feel the vibrations that create sound and also to experiment with rhythm, melody and the other music elements. Students work with their teacher to combine music with movement to more fully understand the concepts of beat and measure, long and short, loud and soft, fast and slow, high and low, and simple music reading and writing.
The Upper Elementary (3-5) school program continues as a general music program for all students with a strong emphasis on instrumental music. In 3rd grade, students learn basic keyboard in our keyboard lab (received through a grant from VH1 Save the Music) and begin to play the recorder. 3rd graders also study the instruments of the orchestra (through a partnership with the Carnegie Hall LinkUp! Program), preparing them for the 4th and 5th grade instrumental program. In 4th and 5th grade, each student studies a band or orchestra instrument of his or her choice. The program offers each student a weekly small-group lesson in addition to a band or orchestra playing experience once a week starting mid-year, culminating with a spring concert.
The Middle School (6-8) program offers both general music to all students, and a variety of electives to interested students who wish to participate. The general music program is keyboard-lab based, and focuses on a broad theme each year: 6th graders study Western Classical Music, 7th graders focus on Jazz & World Musics, and 8th graders participate in a year-long study of Music as Economic, Political & Social commentary. All students also participate in periodic in-school performances presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center. The electives offered include both instrumental and vocal music. The AMS Band and Orchestra program offers weekly small-group lessons in addition to a band or orchestra playing experience. The AMS Chorus meets twice a week, and sings music from a variety of genres, styles and cultures. Performances by these elective groups occur throughout the year.
Since the 2012-13 school year, Anderson has been proud to present a school musical featuring our very talented middle schoolers. Past shows include Annie and Aladdin. In the 2014-15 school year, students will perform in The Little Mermaid.
Two licensed physical education instructors provide activities that foster individual fitness and team play in grades K-8. Health/hygiene instruction is provided to 7th grade students as per DOE mandate. Our fitness room, funded by a grant from the City Council, is utilized by middle schoolers and offers treadmills, stationary bikes, two recumbent bikes, and several Arc trainers (elliptical machines).
Observing, hypothesizing, designing & conducting experiments, collecting & analyzing data, and drawing conclusions are emphasized in our hands-on, minds-on, inquiry & discovery approach to science. Utilizing F.O.S.S. (Full Options Science System) kits as the core component of our program, students in all grades receive instruction from one of our school's three full-time science teachers.
The entire science program K-8 is adapted and enriched to meet the high interest level of the students. Anderson Middle School students study units in life sciences, earth science, and physical science, during 6th and 7th grades, and take the New York State Regents level Living Environment course in 8th grade. Successful completion of this course allows students the opportunity to take more advanced level and AP science courses during their high school years.
Science is an integral part of our academic track, and we are meeting the new city and state science requirements by providing students with the appropriate amount of instructional time in this content area.
K-5 students explore their communities and the world and study world and American history and culture within an interdisciplinary approach that also integrates language arts, music and art.
The middle schoolers continue to follow the New York State curriculum which focuses on World and Ancient Civilizations in 6th grade and American History in 7th and 8th grades. Strong emphasis is placed on research skills and written and oral presentations. Socratic Seminar is utilized as well.