The WNS elementary program for grades 1-5 includes the core academic subjects of reading, writing, mathematics, and social studies as well as specialized classes such as science, art, music, Spanish, physical education, and computer science. WNS utilizes a co-teaching model, with two credentialed teachers in each classroom, totaling four collaborative teachers per grade level. Social-emotional learning is integrated throughout the elementary curriculum. The co-teaching model allows for adaptations to be made to the curriculum to better serve student learning styles and achievement levels while keeping instructional goals consistent across the grade level.
The elementary grade studies are grounded in a project-based learning approach that allows students to apply their learning in authentic ways. For Pioneer Day in third grade, for example, students spend months learning about and engaging in simulations that help them understand and internalize the experiences of Native Americans and pioneers. Fifth graders engage in a year-long, interdisciplinary study of their own family’s background and immigration and migration to Los Angeles, culminating in a Cultural Fair each spring.
In the early elementary years, students are exposed to a wide range of literature such as picture books, chapter books, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Students are guided through the integration of phonics, spelling, vocabulary, and comprehension, delving more deeply into texts and building reading stamina. Comprehension strategies include: retelling, sequencing, making meaningful connections, elements of a story, and the author’s intent. Together, teachers and students develop goals that are both rigorous and within reach with constant feedback on their progress.
In the upper elementary years, reading instruction is focused on building a lifelong love of reading. Students are encouraged to explore a variety of authors and genres and are taught to make connections between the texts to their own lives and the real world. Students are encouraged to take ownership of their reading. In a variety of groupings, students explore various themes through different reading genres. A workshop-based approach allows students to connect more deeply with their literary choices through discussion, written analysis, and projects. Students also enjoy teacher- and student-led book clubs.
In the early elementary years, students experience many different written genres such as personal narrative, persuasive reviews, nonfiction, poetry, informational pieces, and creative writing. They receive small group and individualized support focused on equipping them with the skills and strategies necessary to be confident and expressive writers. Students utilize the Writers’ Workshop model to work through drafting, revising, editing, and publishing work.
In the upper elementary grades, students grow and flourish as writers through the Writer’s Workshop model. They are taught to draw from their own experiences, to write engaging small moment narratives, informational texts, and persuasive speeches. Students should understand that their “lives and thoughts are worth writing about.” Students use their writing notebooks to record mini-lessons on the conventions of writing and the writers’ craft. Students’ writing is published for a variety of authentic audiences.
In the early elementary years, students enjoy numerous interactive experiences that build their knowledge and understanding of math concepts. Through differentiated small group instruction, students master basic arithmetic, geometry, time, money, and patterns. The math curriculum also focuses on the mastery of basic addition and subtraction facts, place value to the thousands, measurement, fractions, and explorations into the concepts behind multiplication and division. Using lessons based in real-world application, children hone their investigative, problem-solving, and critical application skills to become lifetime mathematical thinkers.
In the upper elementary grades, students internalize how and why math is meaningful in their lives, moving beyond procedural knowledge to conceptual understanding. The curriculum is a project-based, interdisciplinary approach to the application of mathematical skills and concepts. A variety of instructional approaches are used in four flexible groups to meet all students’ needs, including those from Everyday Math and Singapore Math. Emphasis is placed on inquiry, problem-solving, and logical reasoning.
Social studies in the elementary program focuses on one essential question for each grade level.
First Grade: Community. First graders create their own community, WNSville, in the spring.
Second Grade: Change Makers. Second graders study notable Americans and how you impact the world around you.
Third Grade: Perspective Taking. For Pioneer Day, students spend months learning about and engaging in simulations that help them understand and internalize the experiences of Native Americans and pioneers.
Fourth Grade: Missions and Global Studies
Fifth Grade: Family backgrounds and immigration and migration to Los Angeles. This culminates in a Cultural Fair and performance each spring.
In the early elementary years, students begin visiting the science lab, where they practice the skills needed to help them to make sense of the world around them and become literate in science, engineering, and technology. The science curriculum is inquiry- and problem-based, and includes planning and carrying out investigations, obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information, designing solutions for real-life problems.
The upper elementary science program continues to build on science and engineering skills. Students visit the science lab regularly to participate in authentic, project-based learning. Students develop and use models, engage in argument from evidence, and use mathematical and computational thinking.
Students at WNS experience theatre arts classes beginning in the fifth grade, developing rehearsal and performance skills, but mainly providing the opportunity for students to develop empathy, self-confidence, public speaking, and communication and collaboration skills. Learn More
The objective of the elementary Spanish program is to develop students’ awareness of the importance of the Spanish language and the richness and diversity of the Spanish culture around the world. Based on previous learning experiences, the students will reinforce and extend their foundation of the Spanish language and its culture. Units of study include greetings, introductions, engaging in conversations, colors, numbers, weather, family, clothing, and animals. The Spanish curriculum includes playful, fun, and engaging activities that will develop four fundamental skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Students in first through fourth grade take part in an active music program based on the philosophy of music education developed by Carl Orff. The fifth grade music program is centered around choral music. Learn More
Students in grades 2-5 meet with our Technology Specialist once a week in our Computer Science Center. Computer literacy skills such as general computer use, typing, word processing, and safe Internet use are taught in the class by the Technology Specialist. Students participate in STEM activities such as programming, coding, and robotics. Learn more about our Technology Program at WNS.
The elementary physical education program places emphasis on learning skills sequentially while maintaining a safe, orderly atmosphere. The ultimate goal of the physical education curriculum throughout all grades is to introduce enjoyable activities and healthy concepts that promote lifelong fitness and optimal health.
Elementary grades develop locomotor, non-locomotor, and manipulative skills as well as body and space awareness through a variety of applications and activities. Dance, yoga, Capoeria, and gymnastics are among some of the units explored. The students also learn the form and function of their bodies through elementary anatomy and physiology units. In addition, sports skills and cooperative games are covered where teamwork and cooperation are emphasize
Weekly visits to the library are an integral part of the elementary learning experience. Children in grades DK-2 attend library sessions in a specially designed space in our large library to check out books, learn about library etiquette, and listen to stories read by a volunteer parent or the librarian. The very youngest children in DK, kindergarten, and first grades learn the rudiments of responsibility by checking out library books for use in their classrooms. Students in grades 3-5 receive formal interactive library skills lessons, participate in a reading club, engage in activities that teach and encourage them actively to use the library's reference materials, and listen to novels read in serial form.
WNS's mission is to create a community of lifelong learners that nurtures students from diverse backgrounds to reach their full potential and inspires them to contribute to the world with confidence, creativity, curiosity, conscience and compassion.