At Pope Francis Global Academy, we believe in educating the whole child – mind, body and spirit – to help prepare them for the 21st century. With Global Studies as the theme through which the curriculum is delivered, teachers carefully design instructional activities to integrate into core content areas, based on global themes or issues that are emphasized by Pope Francis. These issues range from world hunger, climate change and clean water to poverty, racism, and family life.
Our newly developed and much lauded curriculum was created from the ground up through collaboration between local and regional educational and thought leaders, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and two regionally recognized educational consultants.
Practical Fine Arts classes include Spanish, art, music and physical education and are taught by certified specialized teachers to our Kindergarten through 8th grades. Our Pre-K students work with the music and art teachers weekly and have Spanish and gym with their classroom teachers.
Pope Francis Global Academy follows the standards developed by the Office of Catholic Schools, which is aligned with the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. More information about those standards can be found here.
Pope Francis Global Academy has many resources and materials to support the implementation of a rigorous, common core-aligned curriculum. Teachers have been provided with intensive professional development to support the shift to the new curriculum and to learn more about the new resource materials available.
Over the summer, teachers participated in approximately 10 days of professional development on the following: Responsive Classrooms, Eureka Math, Literacy Instruction, Technology and Global Projects. Teachers also participated in grade level and content area collaborative planning across the two campuses. The professional learning is a continuation of professional development provided during the 2015-2016 school year. Ongoing professional development has been and will continue to be provided throughout this school year.
Pope Francis Global Academy has new math curriculum and new math materials. Eureka Math has been selected as the new math program for K-8 students. Eureka Math connects math to the real world in ways that takes the fear out of math and builds student confidence and understanding of mathematical concepts. The team of teachers and mathematicians who wrote Eureka Math took great care to present mathematics in a logical progression from Pre-K through Grade 12. Based on analysis of several math curricula as reported in EdReports, Eureka Math far surpassed the other curricula in terms of focus and coherence, rigor and usability. It was designed specifically for the common core.
PFGA teachers participated in a three-day workshop on the Eureka Math curriculum and instructional practices. Teachers were also provided with a planning session with our Math Consultant to support collaborative planning for the first module. Teachers will continue ongoing professional development in the implementation of the new math curriculum. Eureka Math provides online support for parents including homework help and tip sheets. Great Minds Eureka Math.
To see how EdReports ranks Eureka Math against other popular math curriculum, click HERE.
Our teachers presented a Math Night for Parents in October. Videos of each presentation can be found HERE.
In a comprehensive approach to literacy development, teachers include instruction in reading comprehension, word study and phonics, writing and grammar, speaking and listening. Teachers utilize guided reading materials from Pioneer Valley Publishers, word study and spelling materials from Words Their Way®, Schoolwide Literacy Units for reading, writing and grammar fundamentals and Schoolwide’s new digital eBook library, Zing, which includes thousands of high-quality fiction and nonfiction texts. In addition, each classroom features a classroom library of 160-200 books at and above the students’ reading levels including the newest and most popular titles, series, and authors as well as tried and true classics, favorites, and award winners.
All K-2 teachers were provided guided reading materials from Pioneer Valley Publishers. The materials include over 150 books and lessons for differentiated small group instruction. Each grade level set provides a wide range of high-quality leveled texts in a variety of genres. The lesson cards that accompany the books provide direction for teachers to include phonics and word study directly related to the texts the students will be reading thus reinforcing the application of phonics to the reading. The materials provide a teacher resource kit which includes professional books on Guided reading, CDs for example lessons, magnetic letters to actively involve students in the process of learning the alphabetic principle and alphabet cards to reinforce sound / symbol relationships. K-2 teachers also received phonics lessons for isolated phonics, sight words and word study (spelling).
Grades 3 -5
Teachers have received Words Their Way® teacher resources to plan word study and spelling for grades 3 – 5. Words Their Way® is a hands-on, developmentally-driven approach to word study that illustrates how to integrate and teach children phonics, vocabulary, and spelling skills. Based on a pre-assessment, the lessons will be differentiated to address students’ developmental levels. Students will be involved in word sorting, word games, and exercises to determine and learn spelling patterns. Eventually students will study increasingly complex patterns, word parts (prefixes and suffixes) and derivational spelling.
Schoolwide Literacy Units for Grades 1 – 8
Elementary classroom teachers and junior high school language arts teachers have been provided with Schoolwide Literacy Units for reading, writing and grammar.
Reading Fundamentals Units of Study provide teachers with mentor text to support teachers as they teach reading comprehension strategies and skills, shared texts for the gradual release of responsibility, and suggestions for students to apply the skills and strategies to books they read (at an appropriate level) in small groups and independently. The materials are aligned to the CCSS and improve students’ ability to identify key ideas, themes, and important information, to read closely and to draw evidence from literacy or informational texts to support and justify interpretation.
Writing Fundamentals Units of study for writing include 6 units per grade level and include mentor texts and support for teaching writing in a workshop format. The materials support student writing in a variety of formats and genres. The lessons provide teachers with step-by-step directions for teaching the writing process and for addressing the CCSS.
Grammar Fundamentals Units of study use the same format used for teaching writing. The grammar lessons are taught using mentor texts, student writing, and demonstrate the importance of understanding grammar as a means of communicating clearly and meaningfully in writing. Teachers model the conventions of standard-English grammar, usage, and mechanics in context.
Schoolwide provides teachers with online resources include sample lessons, sample student papers, and assessment suggestions.
Ebooks – Zing Grades K - 8
Zing is Schoolwide’s dynamic new digital eBook library featuring thousands of high-quality fiction and nonfiction texts. Highlights and key features are:
- Unlimited, simultaneous access to thousands of authentic eBooks and short digital texts
- Embedded eLearning teaching points
- eLearning assessments (multiple choice, reading response, and constructed response)
- eReader tools (note taking/annotating, highlighting, bookmarks, and an interactive dictionary
- Audio eBooks and audio eLearning
- Access to student reading logs and reading progress monitoring
- Web-based access
Classroom Libraries Grades 3 – 8
Each classroom has a classroom library of anywhere from 160 – 200 books. Based on recommendations from the CCSS, the classroom libraries provide a true balance of literary (50 %) and informational (50%) texts. The collections include the newest and most popular titles, series, and authors as well as tried and true classics, favorites, and award winners. The libraries include texts at students’ reading levels and texts with complexity levels that challenge and motivate students. Students will use the books to apply the comprehension and vocabulary strategies from the Schoolwide Fundamentals Units of Study for Reading.
Find more information at http://www.schoolwide.com/.
Pope Francis Global Academy utilizes the TCI History Alive Social Studies program for grade 5-8. This program will ensure the delivery of important content while addressing ELA common core standards for reading, writing, speaking and listening. The TCI programs transform social studies class into a multi-faceted learning experience. TCI lessons start with a big idea — Essential Question — and incorporate graphic notetaking, group work, and step-by-step discovery. Students are the center of instruction that taps a variety of learning styles, allowing students of all abilities to learn and succeed. The grade level areas of study include:
Students will not just be reading textbooks and answering questions, they will discover information for themselves. through simulations, they will feel the emotions of historical figures, reason through problems and debate complex issues. In TCI activities, students interact in pairs and groups so they are engaged in their own learning. The interactive approach provides students with a variety of ways to experience content that helps them retain and recall key information. TCI's programs have been effective in raising student achievement and test scores, while inspiring students and educators alike with a passion for learning. Online resources are provided for teachers. The grade level areas of study include:
- Grade 5 – America’s Past
- Grade 6 – The Ancient Past
- Grade 7 – The Medieval World and Beyond
- Grade 8 - The United States Through Industrialization
TCI Digital Resources
- An online student text in addition to a print version is available.
- The Interactive Student Notebook challenges students with writing and drawing activities based on the Common Core standards.
- Game-like Reading Challenges motivate students to learn.
- Older students learn to solve investigations with primary sources.
- An interactive learning environment includes audio tools, rich images, on-line vocabulary, Spanish, and more.
Pope Francis Global Academy students are engaged in interactive science investigations using an inquiry-based approach. The curriculum includes coherent progression of content in life science, physical science, earth science, space science, and engineering. The science curriculum is designed to connect with the ELA and Math lessons to support the concepts covered in those subjects and improve the students’ metacognitive skills.
Currently publishers are working to align resources to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These materials will be available in the future. Pope Francis Global Academy teachers have developed a scope and sequence for the junior high science curriculum that reflects the NGSS.
Religious education takes place in the classroom, providing students the opportunity to grow in their faith and learn what it means to live as a Catholic in today’s world. Service projects, established to reinforce the path that Pope Francis has called us to follow, will nurture our students’ sense of respect and responsibility. Students in grades 1-8 participate in weekly and holiday Mass; kindergarten students begin participating in Mass after the Christmas break.
Our religious program is rooted in the rich and diverse tradition of the Catholic faith and follows the 6 core tenets of our Spiritual Charter.
Our program provides an excellent foundation for a lifetime of faith and teaches students what it means to live as a Catholic in today’s world. Our program invites students to begin their journey of faith through an exploration of Scripture and Tradition using researched-based educational strategies and age-appropriate techniques in the classroom. Our program helps form the whole student with cross-curriculum activities and inquiry-based learning so each student is encouraged to encounter Christ, serve the Church, and become disciples in our digital age.
The goal for the religion curriculum is to instill in students an enthusiasm for living the Christian faith, while providing an in-depth religious education, including experiences in prayer, the sacraments, and service. Religion is integrated throughout the curriculum. Service projects, established to reinforce the path that Pope Francis has called us to follow, nurture our students’ sense of respect and responsibility.
Each child shall be instructed in the truths of the Catholic faith according to guidelines set down by the Archdiocesan Religious Education Program. Through this instruction, the school makes known to the students, the person and the message of Christ, as well as an understanding of the Catholic Church.
Sacramental Preparation is in keeping with the most recent recommendations of the Archdiocesan Office of Religious Education.
Preparation for Reconciliation and the reception of Eucharist takes place in second grade. Confirmation preparation and reception take place in eighth grade. Students from our four founding schools receive sacraments at their home parish. Sacramental guidelines are given at parent meetings.
Students in grades K-8 participate in weekly Masses on Wednesday morning, as well as on special occasions such as feast days of saints. Pre-K attend Prayer Services and attend special all-school Masses.
The Arts and Physical education
Art, Music and Physical Education classes are an integral part of the curriculum at Pope Francis Global Academy. Students Pre-K-8 participate weekly in music and fine arts classone time per week. Grades K-5 have gym twice per week. Grades 6-8 have gym once per week. Pre-K students go to the gym or auditorium two times per week to work on gross motor Skills/gym taught by their classroom teachers.
In addition to the rigorous core curriculum, religious education, physical education and arts our students receive, they have an opportunity to develop competence in the Spanish language and an understanding of various Spanish-speaking cultures.
Spanish language classes are provided weekly for students in grades K-5th grade and twice a week for grades 6-8. Pre-K students are taught the basics by their classroom teachers throughout the year.
We are beginning the year with a global project to build on the work started last year. Teachers were introduced to our new project, Global Read Aloud, by Theresa Allen, Director for Instructional Technology for the Archdiocese of Chicago. The project was created in 2010 with a simple goal in mind; one book to connect the world. Now, after five years, more than 1,00,000 connections have been made in 60 different countries. Teachers select a book to read aloud to their students during a six-week period and during that time teachers will try to make as many global connections as possible. Teachers can use a variety of digital tools to make these connections, including, Twitter, Skype, Edmodo, email, Kidblog, Tackk, Google Hangout and other tools. Teachers will receive a community of other educators to connect with for the Read Aloud and hopefully this will inspire them to continue these connections through the year. This is our first global project for the year and there will be more to come.
Pope Francis Global Academy tries to meet the needs of its students through its Resource Centers. Pope Francis Global Academy has resource teachers to help facilitate all of the students’ learning. Title 1 also provides on-site services for those students who qualify for services.
State funding is provided for each of our campuses to offer Title 1 services to those students who qualify and can benefit from the additional support in math or reading. Each campus has a dedicated Title teacher who pulls students during the resource period and throughout the day to reinforce what students are learning in the classroom.