Calvary Christian Academy is committed to excellence in education. We offer a quality core curriculum with French, computers, physical education, music, Bible lessons, art, and frequent field trips.
CCA’s predominate resource utilized in language arts is the Christian based A Beka Book program, and similarly, for math from grades 1-7 it is the Bob Jones University Press program and the Math Power resource for grade 8. These programs alone meet the Ontario Curriculum Guidelines. However, our teachers implement various other resources to further enhance our programs. Most notably, in language we follow the Four Blocks Literacy Model.
The A Beka Book language arts program (reading, grammar, and creative writing) is excellent with its traditional phonics-first approach. Based upon an intensive phonics program, these subjects are carefully integrated to enhance each child’s phonetic development. Children are beginning to read after Junior Kindergarten and can typically read and write with understanding by first grade. Offering balanced literacy, our staff has been professionally trained in Four Blocks and is committed to its implementation (two hours of language a day, spread out over four blocks):
- Self-Selected Reading: children practice reading at their developmentally appropriate level and then conference with the teacher;
- Working with Words: phonetic development, spelling using sound/letter association, basic sight words, word attack strategies, and phonemic awareness while working at the letter, word and sentence levels;
- Guided Reading: planned, intended, focused reading instruction with an emphasis on comprehension development and strategies, and developmentally appropriate instruction;
- Writing: directed and creative writing whereby the teacher models thought processes required to write (spelling, grammar, etc.): includes a mini-lesson, independent writing time, teacher conferencing, publishing and sharing time.
In arithmetic, the Bob Jones program is committed to a traditional approach of teaching. Children are first taught concrete facts as a foundation for the abstract concepts that follow. Repetition and review are considered very important. In the arithmetic programs, for example, a spiralling approach to review and the development of basic skills is used both within each grade and from grade to grade
As evidenced by CAT test results, CCA’s curriculum is academically advanced when compared to the national standards. Ontario Ministry Curriculum Guidelines are utilized as our teachers ensure that provincial requirements are met, subject-by-subject, strand-by-strand. The American-produced A BEKA and Bob Jones programs are supplemented to meet provincial standards with respect to Canadian content.
In Science, CCA uses the curriculum developed by Christian Schools International that integrates God and creation into the discovery of Science. CCA uses the Accelerated Integrated Method, better known as AIM, for core French. It is a revolutionary approach to second language instruction using the Gesture Approach (GA). Through story telling and drama related activities, rather than a thematic approach, students learn to negotiate the French language in a variety of ways. A variety of resources are used to teach Social Studies curriculum requirements.
Christianity is integrated throughout all of our teaching subjects. Our teachers are encouraged to present Christian perspectives in science and social studies (i.e. creation). In addition, literature components often emphasize Christian morals, values, and personalities.
Our Primary and Junior classrooms have implemented learning centres into daily routines. These centres encourage independent learning, allowing each child to have a somewhat customized education. The learning centres challenge and stimulate the individual child to excel at his/her own pace. They also promote learning across the intelligences, allowing children to experience lessons in a multi-sensory manner (i.e. kinesthetically).
Measuring Student Progress: Overview
Calvary Christian Academy firmly believes in the need to continually assess, evaluate and report individual student progress in essentially all subjects and grades (i.e. science, social studies, math, French, physical education, etc.) Students’ learning and abilities are recorded and compared against the baseline standards set by the Province of Ontario Curriculum Guidelines.
Assessment (the procedure to gather and record student learning) and evaluation (the judging of the quality of student work/learning) procedures are pre-planned by teachers. It is expected that all teachers predetermine a marking scheme for all assignments and tests. Assignments are generally presented to the students with a written list of expectations, a marking scheme (rubrics) and due dates. Marked tests and assignments are sent home for parents to acknowledge. While assessment and evaluation procedures do vary somewhat by subject, teacher, and grade, each unit of study/chapter in each subject is assessed and evaluated. Rubric categories generally follow the Ontario guideline categories of knowledge and skills:
- knowledge and understanding;
- thinking and inquiry;
- communication; and
- application and making connections.
School wide reporting of student progress occurs at the end of each term with report cards. Further reporting occurs during the parent teacher interviews (mandatory in the first term, optional in the second term). Staff members are advised to notify both the parents and administrator of an individual student’s learning abnormalities or concerns.
Measuring Student Progress: Mathematics
Calvary Christian Academy uses the Bob Jones University Press texts for math in grades 1-7 and Math Power in grade 8. With these texts, units of study are separated into chapters. Each chapter wraps up with a unit review and a chapter test. Teachers also observe the progress of student learning in the classroom during seatwork, learning centres, games and group work (i.e. working with manipulatives: clocks, cash registers, geometric shapes, paper folding, tangrams, geoboards, flashcards, times table activities, math game boards, etc.)
Measuring Student Progress: Reading
As a school, CCA recognizes the importance of a balanced literacy approach to reading and writing. Both reading and writing are obviously integrated across the curriculum and therefore, evaluated to a certain extent in all subjects.
With the implementation of the Four Blocks Literacy Model, children in primary, junior and intermediate grades read with their teacher at least once per week in a private ‘conference’ setting. This is a component of the self-selected reading block in which students read to the teacher and then lead in a discussion about the content read. During this time the teacher assesses and records the student’s progress with respect to fluency, specific phonemic difficulties, and comprehension.
Students are encouraged to read developmentally appropriate material. Each September their reading level is assessed by teachers and they are then guided to read on their level. Progress is monitored on an ongoing basis. Parents are informed of their child’s baseline reading level and generally notified of changes through home reading programs (i.e. books sent home with record sheets). Report cards indicate students’ reading progress. Parents are further advised during parent-teacher conferences at the end of the first term and occasionally by written communication.
Students also participate in the Guided Reading block of the Four Blocks Literacy Model. Teachers observe and often make anecdotal notes of students’ progress during such reading activities as shared reading and choral reading. Sometimes assignments during literature circles are used as specific assessment/evaluation tools (junior and intermediate divisions). Again, these would generally be graded using a rubric and then sent home for parental acknowledgement, as well as marks recorded and reported on term report cards.
Measuring Student Progress: Writing
The initial ability to write (both manuscript and cursive) is monitored on a daily basis. CCA’s primary division uses a writing program entitled Handwriting Without Tears. The program promotes continuity with developmentally appropriate resources to match students’ growth. It caters to different learning styles and abilities since it utilizes a multi-sensory teaching approach to learning. The language used in the teaching and learning process is child friendly and consistent across the grades making it much easier for students to carry forward learning from one grade to another. In addition to the individual workbook, some non-consumable resources are shared among the lower grades.
Students’ overall writing abilities are assessed in grammar, creative writing, and spelling components of language. All three of these aspects of writing are typically graded in assignments.
Our grammar curriculum comes complete with language tests for grades three through eight. Again, such tests are marked, recorded and then sent home.
Creative writing assignments are also used to evaluate students’ progress in writing. Typically, teachers generate a rubric for such assignments. The rubrics are used to assess the students’ ability to organize ideas, communicate thoughts effectively, and properly use punctuation, grammar, spelling and penmanship.