Academics

Elementary Campus

Welcome to the elementary campus, where an Oakwood education begins each morning with the familiar sounds of the courtyard bell. Joyful enthusiasm and purposeful enterprise imbue a daily experience that is deeply rooted in our Statement of Philosophy.
Each child at the elementary campus enriches the community as a unique individual who contributes their experiences, interests, and learning styles. This diverse tapestry creates opportunities for building self-awareness, exploring multiple perspectives, and valuing differences. Warm and caring relationships forged by mutual respect and trust are at the core of the school’s commitment to cultivating a sense of belonging. In knowing their students, teachers recognize their potential and guide their progress. Within this secure and nurturing environment, students feel empowered to take an active role in their learning and development—academically, aesthetically, physically, socially, and emotionally.

Our Integrated Curriculum

Our course of study is designed to encourage and inspire active learners who think critically and take intellectual risks, while creating a smooth transition from one grade to the next.
    • Denise Ross

      Denise Ross, Elementary Campus Principal

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  • Mathematics

    The Oakwood School math curriculum develops a child’s ability to formulate, solve problems, and apply concepts in a variety of situations. We believe all students will enjoy mathematics and recognize its value in the world by learning through hands-on experiences. In alignment with  standards from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the tenets of Singapore Math, teachers lead students toward higher levels of complexity in thinking, reasoning, and understanding. Across all grades, students progress from concrete problem-solving activities to more abstract thinking. Through the use of multiple models, manipulatives, and strategies children learn flexibility and resourcefulness in their thinking and use of mathematics.

    Students develop positive attitudes toward math by understanding that it is not just traditional problem-solving. Math is being creative. Math is visualizing and questioning. Students become proficient in math by utilizing their creativity to approach any problem or challenge with flexibility, fluency, and originality.

    As students progress throughout elementary school, the level of sophistication and complexity in math grows. In kindergarten through second grade, students are focused on building their number sense and establishing a foundation for mathematical modeling. They work toward mastering addition and subtraction, the basics of our number system, spatial thinking with shapes, and measure with nonstandard units. In third through fifth grades, our focus shifts to multiplication and division concepts, fractions, types of measurement, and representing and analyzing patterns. In sixth grade, students have a firm understanding of our number systems and operations. From this foundation, they explore new concepts such as ratios and rates, rational numbers, statistics, and geometric relationships which propels students toward continued growth in middle school.
  • Language Arts

    At the center of our language arts program is the essential question—What types of readers and writers do we want to cultivate and support?

    The answers to that question inform our student-centered curricular and pedagogical approach. Our multifaceted and integrative system of instruction focuses squarely on the needs of our students and begins with assessment. Teachers regularly and systematically gather and examine information about their students to determine the instructional direction; in other words, What do my students know, and how do I move them forward?

    Readers and Writers Workshops create a space for students to participate in authentic, meaning-based experiences in tandem with learning on the formal features of language (phonics, spelling, and grammar). At the same time, this organizational structure allows teachers to choose from a menu of teaching practices that continually alternate between teacher and student control—the ultimate goal being student independence. This approach also provides many different  grouping opportunities (whole class, small group, and individual conferences) and instruction that honors both the planned lesson and the spontaneous “teachable moment.” Connecting reading and writing instruction supports our belief that “readers learn about writing from reading while writers learn about reading from writing.”

    Each unit of study is framed by a “big idea” that provides vision and focus. These “big ideas” reflect understandings in such areas as the reading and writing processes, the elements and themes of literature, reading and writing genres, author studies, and content related to social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

    From grade-to-grade the complexity of the texts, themes, and strategies grow and evolve in a developmentally-appropriate manner. In kindergarten and first-grade, a key focus is on learning to read through guided reading groups tailored to each child’s instructional level and small-group word study that supports both reading and writing development. In grades 2-3, the focus is using language to learn, such as exploring ways in which authors can highlight social justice issues through literature. Students in grades 4-6 experience levels of instruction that deepen their reading and writing skills through more sophisticated processes and subject matter. Instruction in these grades includes the exploration of texts that present multiple perspectives of complex historical moments and promote inferential thinking.
  • Social Studies

    In preparation for life as an ethical, empathic, and socially-conscious member of a global society, students on the elementary campus are immersed in a social studies curriculum where they learn about themselves to understand others. They learn about history to understand the present, and about human rights and social justice to understand the importance of their role in the world. 

    These experiences inspire our young learners to pursue ways they can make the world a better place in the present and envision a future in which they take responsibility for others in their community. Through their academic curriculum, critical thinking and problem-solving opportunities abound as students learn to analyze sources of information, examine the underlying causes of problems, and participate in discourse that requires respect for multiple perspectives.

    Our students embark on a human rights-centered curriculum starting in kindergarten, when they learn that we are all born free and equal, contemplate rights and responsibilities, and distinguish between needs and wants. 

    Through honoring a wide range of cultural celebrations throughout the year, first graders come to understand various belief systems and that people live their daily lives in different ways. Expanding on their yearlong study of communities, second graders discover how indigenous peoples on various continents have made sense of their world, adapted to change over time, and innovated in order to survive. Third graders take this a step closer to home by undertaking a study of Los Angeles and the local indigenous peoples, which includes a comparative study of the California Chumash and Arizona Hopi nations. Fourth graders study California history, from pre-explorer through early statehood. They build ‘social scientist mindsets,’ exploring perspectives and developing inquiry skills. Fourth grade culminates in the creation of an original script, based on a particular moment of change, where students apply the skills they have learned as they research, write, and ultimately perform a play depicting such topics as freedom of speech, labor rights, and immigration. Fifth graders explore United States history with a focus on the critical examination of sources and the freedoms and challenges of America in relationship to its diverse populace. Sixth graders consider how the environment influences human migration, ancient ways of life, and the development of societies. 

    Along the way, students engage in self-selected inquiry studies that enable them to hone research skills, conduct informational reading strategies, weigh historical sources and evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and consider both historical and current events through a human rights lens.
  • Art

    The elementary school art program is rooted in the belief that all children are artists. Our goal is to build skills, instill confidence, and bring students’ artistic visions to life as they create artworks they can share with pride. Art is a creative process that should always be rooted in fun. "Mistakes" are viewed as opportunities to foster resilience and build student’s capacities for overcoming obstacles.

    While most projects follow guidelines, we encourage all of our young artists to think beyond the boundaries of a project. We work to help students follow their imagination when they are inspired and provide the needed tools and space to see their ideas through. A wide variety  of art-making materials are introduced, and we embrace the messiness of the process. Students create 2D and 3D pieces as they learn the formal foundations of art, including line, color, composition, value, shape, form, space, and texture.
  • Science

    In order to learn science, children must do science. Units and themes are designed to help students ask questions and construct meaning as they discover the answers. Students are encouraged to hypothesize, construct, observe, classify, record, and interpret in a fully experiential environment. All labs conform to Next Generation Science Standards utilizing experiential design that encourages a growth mindset. Through this process students enrich their own insights and perceptions about how science impacts modern life today.

    Physics, Chemistry, Earth, Space, and Life sciences are explored using a hands-on, inquiry based approach both in and out of the classroom. Our science lab teacher works closely with classroom teachers to provide a robust and integrated experience for students through a variety of projects such as building a garden, hatching chicks, creating a podcast, investigating a “crime,” and field trips that enrich studies in astronomy, oceanography, and more.

    The Science Technology Center (STC) is a laboratory on campus where K-6 students participate in hands-on exploration and investigation. Examples include third grade meteorologists studying current conditions through our onsite weather station, fourth grade students analyzing the structure of matter as they experiment with chemical compounds, and fifth graders constructing indirect siphons to understand the nature of fluid air pressure in their study of physics.

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  • Music

    The Oakwood School music program is multifaceted and comprehensive where students are immersed in a curriculum that includes Kodaly, Suzuki, and the Classical Method. Each grade level engages in singing, dancing, instrumental music, musical literacy, and grade-appropriate music history. A wide variety of genres and styles of music are explored through in-depth studies of musical history in the 5th and 6th grades.

    Vocal and instrumental performances occur regularly throughout the year in the form of concerts and a variety of performances. Through culminating events that showcase areas of classroom learning, students engage in interdisciplinary music projects that involve both music and visual art. 

    Several music production applications are used as learning tools for students. Starting in grade 2, students learn how to use Garageband to record and create music. In grades 5 and up, students are exposed to additional platforms such as Logic and ProTools..

    Oakwood has a robust Instrumental program with over 60 percent of all 3rd-6th graders participating. In addition to General Music, starting in grade 3, students have the opportunity to study a string instrument and participate in the beginning String Ensemble. In 4th grade, students may sign up for a band instrument and join the Beginning Concert Band. In 5th and 6th Grade, students may join the Full Orchestra. Oakwood Elementary also has a 6th Grade Jazz Band program.

    Both music classrooms were designed for making music. The entire building is wired for live sound which makes it possible to use it as a fully functioning recording studio. Starting in Kindergarten, students learn to read rhythms and basic pitches through the use of percussion instruments, hand drums, and pitched Orff instruments. In grade 4, students learn Recorder, and in grades 5 & 6, the Ukulele.
  • Spanish Language

    The K-6 Spanish program utilizes a multifaceted approach to language acquisition. Students receive instruction in the requisite skills (vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar) that lead to the development of basic conversational, reading, and writing ability.  Equal emphasis is placed on the history, culture, and geography of several Spanish-speaking countries, enabling students to gain an understanding of their uniqueness and diversity. Literature, art, music, field trips, and celebrations are among the experiences that add a rich texture to the curriculum.
  • Technology

    Technology education at Oakwood is designed to support classroom learning and student achievement through high-quality integration with the classroom curriculum and pedagogy. As early as kindergarten, students learn basic digital skills and then use more advanced features to create multimedia presentations and digital portfolios. The application of higher levels of digital skills allows students to learn in ways that were not previously possible within the traditional classroom to venture outside those walls and into the world. The incorporation of digital programs also supports the social-emotional well-being of students as it facilitates the development of strong classroom relationships through the additional connections made through interactive online learning management systems.
     
    During weekly technology classes, students learn digital skills and use that knowledge through the lens of problem-solving. Various units include digital literacy (finding, evaluating, creating, and communicating information with devices); design thinking (re-defining real-world problems and solutions and determining alternative strategies); coding/programming (learning the basics of computer punctuality, as well as using the information the create their own programs); digital citizenship (learning responsibilities as media creators and consumers).
  • Explorations

    Project-based and design-thinking learning experiences integrate science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) concepts, among others, through real-life problem-solving tasks. Academic rigor resides in an interdisciplinary process that includes student agency, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. Through Explorations, students are encouraged to pose questions, take risks, and welcome failure as an opportunity to learn, thereby cultivating the qualities needed for future productivity and success.

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  • Physical Education

    The Physical Education curriculum and instruction focuses on the development of strength, stamina, agility, and flexibility through daily PE classes. Students in kindergarten and first grade partake in the motor lab to develop sensory skills and build a foundation for both future physical education and academic proficiency. Beginning in second grade, individual and team sports skills are acquired through units of study including volleyball, basketball, football, baseball/softball, track and field, and a variety of games and activities such as badminton, pickleball, Frisbee golf, ultimate frisbee, and capture the flag. An integral part of the PE program is the focus on social-emotional growth. Curriculum and instruction endeavor to develop proper sportsmanship and respect for all in an enjoyable setting. Students learn how to “win with dignity and lose with grace” and to collaborate with others to achieve a common goal. They also benefit from opportunities to develop leadership and group skills during games and activities.
  • Interscholastic Sports

    Approximately 90% of fourth through sixth-grade students participate in interscholastic sports. Oakwood competes in the San Fernando Valley Private School League which is founded on the belief that every student is able to participate in team sports. Sports offered can include flag football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, baseball and softball, and track and field. Only sixth-grade teams are eligible for playoffs and Oakwood routinely qualifies for playoff competition. Recent accomplishments include our fifth and sixth-grade undefeated flag football teams and league championships for both boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. All team coaches are full-time Oakwood physical education teachers who embody the Oakwood philosophy in their teaching and coaching. Our emphasis is on skill acquisition, sportsmanship, teamwork, and fun!
  • Enrichment Courses

    To help children explore new horizons, a varied selection of extracurricular activities is available for K-6 students during fall and spring terms. Classes may include chess, animation, architecture, robotics, cooking, sewing, dance, and more.