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Curriculum and Methods
St. Catherine Labouré employs a variety of methods to implement a standards based curriculum of the Archdiocese of Washington. These include teacher lectures, whole class discussions, cooperative learning groups, journals, videos, peer tutoring, and skills grouping. Information technology is incorporated at varying levels in the classrooms.
As a Catholic school we celebrate Mass at the beginning of the school year and throughout the school year. Confession is offered on a monthly basis to the students. Parish priests are a familiar presence in our school.
Every morning after prayer, our students recite the Values Code. This is a values-based initiative that teachers incorporate into their lessons and the students learn to recognize and use in their daily lives.
Homework is assigned to reinforce classroom instruction. The volume of work assigned increases incrementally as the student progresses from grade to grade. Each teacher provides, through Internet access, ongoing class and homework assignments. These classpages are accessible at www.yourclasspage.com using the password 3019461717 (the school phone number).
Assessments, formal and informal, are administered regularly. Students will receive a progress report halfway through the quarter and report cards are issued to all students quarterly. The TerraNova standardized test is administered in grades two through eight in the spring.
Special classes are offered to enrich the students’ learning experience from prekindergarten to eighth grade.
The art curriculum encourages students to explore different mediums, techniques, and art styles. The students’ projects and understanding are assessed through rubrics, observation, and self-evaluation.
The music curriculum creates opportunities for students to interact with music. Students learn how to read rhythmic tunes effectively and quickly. Students also use rhythm and pitch instruments. They compose, improvise and perform. Using guided listening activities; they listen and respond to a wide range of music styles.
The Spanish curriculum emphasizes listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. Students use textbooks, workbooks, and create group or individucal projects. Students are assessed through quizzes, exams, projects, and role-playing. The linguistic knowledge of native Spanish-speaking students is refined through cooperative and independent learning tasks.
Physical education develops motor skills, group cooperation, sportsmanship, and knowledge of the rules of sports. The overall goal is to improve the child’s physical fitness.
In the library, research skills are taught using books and Internet resources. The library/media specialist fosters a love of reading and books. Grade level book clubs are offered to students once a month.
The computer lab offers students keyboarding, educational activities, research, and the opportunity to learn Power Point and other computer applications.
ESL (English as a Second Language) classes are available for students who qualify through testing and who would benefit from academic support from the ESL instructor.
St. Catherine’s preschool program promotes the spiritual, intellectual, and emotional development of each child in a nurturing atmosphere where they are introduced to the values and beliefs that are part of the Catholic faith. Our preschool program is for children three and four years of age.
Our pre-school emphasizes a hands-on and multi-sensory approach to learning through which basic skills, such as, language arts and mathematics is taught. Children are encouraged to take part in games, free-play, art, and music and movement activities daily. Teachers and children gather for circle time, where teachers utilize techniques such as word wall, morning message, and story time to expand the students’ thinking and communication skills. Group activities promote the concepts of community and values. This positive setting bolsters the child’s growth and self-esteem.
Primary: Kindergarten - Grade Two
In the Primary grades, religion builds on the message that God love us all and forgives us. Students learn basic prayers and about the lives of the saints. Second grade curriculum focuses on forgiveness through the sacrament of Reconciliation. Students prepare for and receive first Reconciliation and First Communion.
In language arts, students focus on phonics, penmanship, and sentence structure, structural analysis for word identification, sight word vocabulary, spelling, reading strategies, and grammar. Higher order thinking skills are developed through information processing, problem solving, and critical/evaluative thinking. Students develop the ability to integrate vocabulary, grammar, hand movement, and memory to produce written language. The writing process involves brainstorming, use of graphic organizers, proofreading (self and peer correction), and the publishing of written products. The students initiate and develop writing portfolios.
In mathematics, students recognize numbers, symbols, and memorize facts. They are introduced to concepts such as place value and fractions. Visual-motor organization is reinforced through the use of math manipulatives.
In science, students investigate space, physical and life sciences. Scientific inquiry is achieved through a hands-on approach, which develops critical thinking skills.
The social studies curriculum creates good citizens by exploring families and communities. Students learn about different cultures and customs through geography.
Intermediate: Grades Three, Four and Five
Religion classes emphasize Mass as the perfect form of community worship. Students are encouraged to participate fully. The seasons of the liturgical year as well as the parts of the Mass are taught. The students also learn about God’s commandments and that the sacraments are given to us to help us love God and to teach us to be of service to others.
The language arts curriculum focuses on comprehension skills and recognizing cause and effect as it applies to events in a story. Students learn to make inferences while reading and also to state the author’s purpose in writing a selection. Independent reading is required along with classroom reading assignments. Student involvement with literature varies from classroom discussion, essays, literacy activity books, and book reports. Several novels are read and discussed throughout the year. In addition to grammar exercises, students use the writing process to write original compositions. Students work on research projects and journals on a regular basis. Each year selections are added to the students’ writing portfolio. Beginning in third grade, an official archdiocesan writing folder is added to this portfolio.
By the end of third grade in mathematics students are proficient in the basic facts of addition, subtraction and multiplication. They have been introduced to the basic facts of division through daily computational practice and problem solving. In fourth and fifth grade students’ work with fractions, adding, subtracting and multiplying them. They learn to express fractions as a percentage. Students then move on to master place value of whole numbers and decimals using a variety of problem solving skills. They are introduced to simple data analysis and their geometric and algebraic knowledge is expanded. Hands-on activities reinforce concepts.
Science students work together to observe and make accurate measurements and to carry out lab investigations in earth, physical, and life science. Data is recorded in journals and results are communicated through charts, graphs, and written or oral reports.
In third grade, social studies integrates many of the students’ language arts and math skills to explore the concepts of communities and to develop map reading skills. In the fourth and fifth grades, social studies focus on the history of Maryland as well as the regions and history of the United States up to 1800. Students study geography, major landforms of the United States, the early inhabitants, and their cultures. Skills for researching, comparing, analyzing and writing are developed in this context. Fifth grade concludes with the study of the American Revolution against British rule, and the founding documents of the Republic and their impact.
Middle School: Grades Six, Seven, and Eight
The religion program builds on the doctrines of the Catholic Church enabling students to actively live their faith, culminating in the sacrament of Confirmation in the eighth grade. The Old Testament history of our faith is covered in the sixth grade. In seventh grade, students study the life of Christ. As part of the Confirmation preparation, students participate in volunteer work earning community service hours and take part in a retreat. Church history and Confirmation are studied in eighth grade.
The language arts program integrates English and reading. The goal of this program is to make our students excellent communicators in written as well as the spoken word and to expand their understanding of the world through literature.
The study of literature utilizes various grade level appropriate texts of all genres. Students are expected to be able to answer open-ended questions concerning these texts with detailed information. The students improve their vocabulary to enhance their reading comprehension. Employing critical thinking strategies, students analyze plot, setting, theme, and characters to further develop their reading comprehension.
The English curriculum focuses on correct grammatical structures and rules that incorporate higher order thinking skills. The goal of vocabulary, spelling and word analysis is to help students use reading selections to enhance reading comprehension skills. All students are expected to write succinctly and to apply learned grammar concepts that are appropriate to their grade level. Enrichment activities include attending professional performances and participating in class plays.
Mathematics builds upon the whole numbers, fractions, and decimal skills of the lower grades. Teachers use strategies that include direct instruction, cooperative learning, real life activities and simulations like the Stock Market Game to assist students in expanding their problem solving skills. Students become increasingly more proficient using geometry, number theory, and algebraic concepts in preparation for high school Algebra I. More capable students take a full Algebra I class in eighth grade that qualifies them to begin either Algebra II or Geometry in the ninth grade.
The science curriculum enables students to develop the skill of scientific inquiry into the areas of life science, earth science, and physical science. Through scientific investigation and lab experiments students describe, classify, critique, and analyze their work. Students are required to research and complete a scientific project.
The social studies program is a survey of Western Civilization from its origins in ancient Greece through the present time with emphasis on spiritual, cultural, economic, and political developments. The eighth grade civics unit prepares our students to be responsible American citizens.
Field Trips: Curriculum enhancing sites in our “Nation’s Capital.”
Essay and Poetry Contests
Our Lady of Good Counsel “Math Competition”
St. Catherine Laboure Science Fair/Montgomery County Science Fair
National Geographic Bee “An academic competition for schools with grades 4-8.”
Maryland History Day
Washington Post Stock Market Game
DeMatha Catholic High School “It’s Academic Challenge”