Cornell Elementary School

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Curriculum Vision Statement


The Cornell Elementary School recognizes each child's natural and unique abilities.  The potential of each child is celebrated by providing a comprehensive, rigorous, and individualized curriculum designed to meet the needs of each student.  Children are taught to strive to meet their individual goals.  Our teachers assist each child to understand how they learn best and how to meet their goals.   We strive to develop a sense of the value and power of education. Our staff provides rich and varied opportunities to engage students in the learning process.  The curriculum is child centered. It emphasizes the learning process, the physical well being, effective communication, creativity, and the scientific method.  We are dedicated to preparing students for success in an ever-changing world by creating and nurturing a community of life-long learners and responsible citizens.

The goal of the elementary program is to equip each child to be an informed, caring, and effective citizen.  We hope to create and inspire life-long learners.   This is accomplished at the primary level by teaching children to read well, to express their thoughts through speaking and writing, to work with numbers and mathematical operations, to investigate, to inquire, and to solve problems.  In the intermediate grades, the curriculum is further extended and enriched by students applying what they are learning.

All students participate in language arts, math, science and social studies.  Children are also offered experiences in technology, music, physical education, and library media studies.  In addition, art, research, musical instruments, and advanced technology skills are integrated into the elementary curriculum at the intermediate grade levels.


Our Beliefs:     


  • Our school community promotes collaboration through a joint commitment to actively involve and cooperatively support the educational process of our children.
  • Our school community utilizes differentiated instructional techniques to meet the individual needs of each learner.
  • Our school community combines its energy and resources to enhance a curriculum which is Pennsylvania standards based. 
  • Our school is dedicated to developing self worth, valuing others, and respecting individuality.
  • Our school community nurtures pride in one's cultural background, as well as appreciates and celebrates cultural and language diversity.
  • Our school community fosters the ability to make informed decisions and to actively participate in the democratic process.
  • Our students and staff will work to create a place where learning is an enjoyable and rewarding experience that inspires and fosters life-long learning.
  • The members of the school community understand that learning requires hard work, self discipline, perseverance, and self evaluation.
  • Our school will promote effective and consistent communication among members.
  • Our school community will be actively involved in developing and maintaining a rigorous and meaningful educational curriculum.



LITERACY – Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking


The primary grades focus a majority of their instruction time on phonemic awareness (saying and hearing the sounds of letters) and phonics (connecting letter sounds with the letters) activities.  At all grade levels, developmentally appropriate higher level reading and thinking skills are emphasized along with the connection between reading, writing, listening and speaking.  The language arts – writing, grammar, usage mechanics, and spelling are an integral part of literacy instruction.  In addition, independent reading of self-selected books is encouraged to help students develop a life-long enjoyment of reading.


Reading instruction at Cornell Elementary is practiced primarily through Harcourt Journeys Common Core. This research based program maintains the philosophy of integrating reading mechanics, language arts components, and comprehension in a way that challenges learners to think, process, infer, and consider information. There is a four-block model for balanced literacy which is utilized to deliver instruction. The Strategic Reading Block involves whole group read alouds, shared reading, and reading in small groups at individual levels. Another component of the Harcourt Journeys program is Reader’s Workshop. This is a time for independent reading of self-selected material and related activities. Targeted instructional support programs are also offered to students who benefit from extra small group instruction. The underlying premise embedded in the curriculum philosophy is that teaching children HOW to read is just a beginning. Teaching them to LOVE to read is the challenge and goal. 


Components of the Cornell Elementary Reading Curriculum:


Word Study

At the primary grade levels word study incorporates spelling, phonics, and vocabulary development. Word study may be a whole-class or a cooperative group activity. Primary grades study high frequency words and word patterns. In the intermediate grades word study frequently supports curriculum content and focuses on learning the meaning of words and how to use new vocabulary correctly through their speaking and writing skills.



Students will learn many reading strategies to help them understand text.  Comprehension activities include bo.0th shared and guided reading. Shared reading activities are generally a whole class experience with a high level of teacher support. Shared reading involves problem-solving and supported reading to help students practice. Guided reading is usually done in small groups with less teacher support and more student control of text. Guided reading gives teachers an opportunity to see if students are applying the strategies taught in shared reading.


Fluency and Independent Reading

Fluency activities are practiced in a whole group, small group, and individually. Fluent readers are able to focus more attention on comprehension. Independent reading helps students to become fluent readers by providing time during the school day for them to practice reading. Students choose and read books within their reading levels. Independent reading time provides teachers an opportunity to meet individually and with small groups of students to discuss their progress in reading.  Students also practice their fluency with timed reading activities.


Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness instruction incorporates teaching students to hear, identify, and play with individual sounds or phonemes in spoken words. Phonemic awareness activities are focused in the primary grades for students to master an understanding about spoken language.



Phonics instruction teaches children the relationship between the letters (graphemes) of written language and the individual sounds (phonemes) of spoken language.  It teaches children to use symbol-sound relationships to read, spell, and write words.  Phonics activities will help our students better decode text.


Guided Reading 

Students are motivated through an enormous range of outstanding leveled books from Scholastic.  Every title is supported with effective teaching strategies to help all children become independent readers who love to read.  Teachers can tailor their instruction to meet a variety of interests, while building the comprehension skills and confidence students need to read independently.  Guided Reading assures the differentiation of reading instruction to challenge each student and develop the reading skills of every reader.


Collins Writing

The Collins Writing Program provides a proven, unified, research-based writing program that can be used in all classrooms, in all subject areas, and at all grades K-12. It equips all teachers with writing strategies designed to help students understand and remember content like no other teaching technique.

The program is organized around Five Types of Writing and the outcomes expected for each. The Five Types of Writing assignments develop students’ essential writing and thinking skills in the context of their everyday classroom learning. The Five Types of Writing framework can be used strategically to meet the unique requirements of each content area.

Simply put, the Collins Writing Program works! Featuring practical, sustainable strategies, high student engagement, and efficient use of teacher time, the program has a truly remarkable record of success. With the new standards, our writing and thinking across the curriculum approach is precisely what K−12 schools need−no matter what the classroom circumstances are.


In grades K-2, Wilson Fundations makes learning to read fun while laying the groundwork for life-long literacy. Students in grades K-2 receive a systematic program in critical foundational skills, emphasizing:

As a recognized leader in multisensory, structured language programs with an emphasis on phonics, Fundations brings more than a decade of systematic and explicit instruction to the K-2 classroom. Based on the Wilson Reading System® principles, Wilson Fundations® provides research-based materials and strategies essential to a comprehensive reading, spelling, and handwriting program. 

The instruction aligns with states’ rigorous college- and career-ready standards. 

Although Fundations includes comprehension strategies, it must be combined with a core/literature-based language arts program for an integrated and comprehensive approach to reading and spelling.                                                            (


Scholastic Reading Counts

Our reading incentive program relies on the books of the classroom and school library to bring a software-based reading program to develop reading skills, raise test scores, and motivate students to take responsibility for independent reading.  Elementary students select from different books of their choosing.  Then the students take a quick test to earn points and prizes.  Meaningful practice builds students’ confidence and leads to success on software-generated comprehension quizzes.  Students gain a sense of accomplishment and build excitement after passing a quiz. A large award ceremony is held at the end of the school year to celebrate reading accomplishments.



This new interactive literacy resource builds a love of reading and learning – online!  BookFlix pairs classic fictional video storybooks from Weston Woods with nonfiction eBooks from Scholastic to reinforce reading skills and develop essential real-world knowledge and understanding.  It is an engaging online literacy resource to help build a love of reading and learning in your children.


From your home computer go to  Enter the username cornell and the password of bookflix and start having fun.



Our math program is designed to teach students what numbers represent and to develop the “number sense” needed for upper level mathematics.  Concepts such as estimation, computation and the use of appropriate strategies in problem solving are a focus of the curriculum.  Students benefit from questions that are designed to gradually introduce them to new concepts that build on what they have learned in previous grade levels to develop an in-depth understanding of mathematical concepts.  The multi-component curriculum provides a variety of learning experiences, such as the use of hands-on manipulatives, an interactive website for use in the school and in the home, connections to other subjects and work pages related to the lessons.


Svaas Pearson  enVision  

Svaas Pearson  enVision packs a unique one-two punch. This Common Core aligned program has lessons that start with Problem-Based Learning (PBL), where students must think critically about a real-world math problem, evaluate options, collaborate, and present solutions. This is followed by Visual Learning to solidify the underlying math concepts. It’s the best way to help kids better understand math ideas.   




The science curriculum through McGraw Hill emphasizes the process skills involved in the scientific method of data collecting, analyzing, and problem solving.  Students are introduced to content in the physical, life, technological and earth sciences.  Hands-on experimental kits are used at all grade levels to teach science through the use of the inquiring method.  Inquiry is an educational approach that models authentic scientific thinking and processes for children in an age appropriate manner. Scientific thinking includes students learning and practicing the skills of observing, questioning, making inferences, hypothesizing, investigating, interpreting, and communicating with multiple representations. Our students learn about science through participating in many hands-on activities and experiments.  


Our students love doing science! Students have access to texts, library resources, teacher models and internet sites to research their questions. 




The Social Studies program introduces students to civics, history, geography, government and economics.  The primary focus of the curriculum develops understandings of the school and local community and moves to a global focus in sixth grade.  Our goal is to focus and to deepen student understanding of important ideas and issues through inquiry and meaningful learning experiences.  Students are engaged in learning activities that teach them to develop an appreciation for individual and group accomplishments as students and citizens.


Grades K-1

Social Studies content is incorporated in our Language Arts program.  Current events and Social Studies concepts are embedded in our daily reading and writing activities. 


Grades 2-5

Kids Discover Social Studies.  Motivates students to explore their world.  Built to inspire curiosity and cultivate analytical skills.  Kids Discover Social Studies offers hands-on lessons and activities, graphic magazines and digital assets that fit into any classroom schedule.  Third grade also expands into U.S. States, cardinal directions, continents and major bodies of water.


Ed: Your Friend in Learning is a new online learning system that combines the best of technology, content and instruction to personalize the teaching and learning experience for every teacher and student.  Ed’s humanistic approach to the user experience makes it engaging and easy to use for students.


Units of Study:


Grade 2 – Neighborhoods and Community

Grade 3 – Communities, Near and Far

Grade 4 – American States and Regions

Grade 5 – The United States (Fully Survey)


Grade 6- National Geographic Learning:  The Ancient World introduces students to the beginnings of the human story.  As they explore the great early civilizations of Egypt and the Near East, India, China, Greece, and Rome, students discover the secrets of these ancient cultures that continue to influence the modern world. 






Students will gain a basic understanding of how a computer works, what computers can do and how technology can be helpful.  Classes meet twice in a five day rotation for 3rd-6th grade and once in grades K-2.    

Students will explore their creativity through a variety of projects that involve collaboration, communication, persistence and problem-solving skills. Classes are divided into four core areas of learning: 

  • Computer Science - computer-based projects, unplugged projects, and the use of physical devices
  • Digital Citizenship - internet safety, becoming a good digital citizen 
  • Keyboarding - the basics of touch-typing skills
  • Basic Operations/Computer Applications -  incorporating Google Apps and Office Tools




Cornell’s art program provides 43-minute classes once a week to first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade students.  Kindergarten students receive 43 minute classes once per week for a trimester. A spiraling art curriculum is used that builds on art processes from the previous year.  All lessons are aligned with the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for the Arts and Humanities.  Collaboration between the classroom teachers and the art teacher is used frequently.  These collaborations have led to many interdisciplinary lessons that are then aligned with the Pennsylvania Standards for the Arts and Humanities.  Art classes are designed to give students the most time working hands on with materials.  However, there is also an emphasis on art history, multiculturalism, art appreciation and criticism.  Students are exposed to a variety of different media materials and techniques.  Some of the processes covered in the spiraling curriculum are drawing, sculpting, weaving, collage, jewelry making and painting.  Students are evaluated using rubrics.  These rubrics define the specific criteria for the project and student evaluation.




Students become effective users of ideas and information.  Teachers and librarians collaborate to enable students to become information literate as they find, evaluate, and apply print and electronic resources available in the library or through the library web page.  


Instrumental Music


Beginning in the 4th grade, students may elect to play an instrument.  Instrumental music students study performance skills such as music reading, rhythm, technique and improvisation, as well as non-performance skills such as cultural and historical perspectives, aesthetic response and critical response to music. 




The elementary music teacher works with children to develop an appreciation of and an interest in music. Students develop music-making skills through a variety of musical methods.  All children participate in singing, movement, playing instruments and reading rhythmic and melodic notation.


Physical Education/Health


Students participate in a progressive program of activities based upon their needs, interests, readiness and physiological development.  A health curriculum focused on wellness, nutrition, exercise and the human body is integrated into the overall physical education program.  The goal of a Physical Education curriculum is to promote and encourage a healthy lifestyle