Curriculum

Language Arts

This subject area includes oral communication, listening comprehension, reading, spelling, handwriting, vocabulary development, and all elements of written expression including grammar, usage, and mechanics.

The Language Arts program is geared toward the individual needs of students through small group instruction and one-to-one instruction. Instruction incorporates multi-sensory techniques, and strategies are taught to accommodate varying individual learning styles. Speech and Language Pathologists work with both teachers and students in order to address the oral communication and listening comprehension needs of students. Teachers incorporate technology in their daily lessons. Language Arts is woven into instruction throughout the school day.

The early stages of reading and spelling begin with phonological awareness followed by systematic sequential instruction of decoding and encoding skills. Once a solid foundation of decoding skills is established, emphasis is placed on reading fluency and comprehension skills. Development of reading in the content areas and in the elements of literature is strengthened as students progress. Reading Support teachers provide additional instruction for those students who are recommended.

Mathematics

Mathematics instruction begins with the development of the concept of number and progresses through the study of algebra. The focus is placed on conceptual understanding of mathematics, computation and estimation skills, application of mathematical knowledge to solve problems, and quantitative reasoning. Learning strategies are taught in conjunction with problem solving methods. Additionally, students learn to read and interpret graphs, to make graphs, and to use graphing as a means of solving equations and inequalities. While mathematics is taught as a separate class, it is also integrated throughout the curriculum.

Classroom experiences go beyond the presentation of mathematical content. With a strong emphasis on the language of mathematics as a vital component of both instruction and problem solving activities, teachers work with small groups of students or individuals. To facilitate each student’s success, organizational and manipulative materials as well as numerous visuals are incorporated into the mathematics program. Students also experience hands-on learning through technology. Tools such as the calculator, the computer and the SMART Board are used to graph linear equations, to write about mathematics, to develop personalized proofreading checklists and study guides, and to engage in various learning activities, such as the Stock Market Game and websites such as coolmath.com and aplusmath.com.

Instructional textbooks and materials include programs of direct instruction, spiral programs, which include review in every lesson, as well as programs which represent a traditional approach. Teachers customize the selection of materials to match the students’ individual learning styles.

Library

Classes in the Lower and Middle Divisions have a regularly scheduled library period each week with the Pilot School librarian. The time is divided into three segments: fifteen minutes to choose new books, fifteen minutes of "book talks" and/or library instruction, and fifteen minutes of "story time."

Students are encouraged to borrow books, one non-fiction and one fiction, for independent reading each week. These books are due the following week, but that time is extended, if necessary.

The book talks are short critiques of books that the children have read. Some students may complete a book talk each week; others may do only one a semester. Each child must do at least two per year. These talks help students feel comfortable giving class presentations and also help them to learn how to be good listeners. During these discussions the students become acquainted with different genres of literature and the techniques that different authors use. Older children learn to identify the unique characteristics of each genre.

Specific library skills are integrated into each period. These skills begin with knowing that each book has a library "address" or call number. Students also learn to use the computer independently to locate books in the library. When teachers assign specific research projects, students in all divisions use the library as a resource.

Each library class ends with a storytime. For the younger classes, short picture books are read and discussed. Older children are exposed to longer works by recognized authors and to folktales and legends. During this time, students again discuss genres of literature and different literary techniques used by the authors.

The main goal of the Library curriculum at Pilot is to allow each student to understand the pleasure that can be derived from books and to develop confidence using research tools that libraries have to offer.

Science

Lower Division students are introduced to a variety of science topics, which they explore in their individual classrooms and in joined groups of two to three classes. By incorporating hands-on activities and technology into the program, the goal is to spark enthusiasm for science and to develop a life-long interest. In the Upper and Middle Divisions, students have class two times per week in our state-of-the-art Tree Top Science Lab.

The curriculum, developed in conjunction with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), cycles in three rotating phases: Earth Science, Life Science/Ecology, and Physical Science/Chemistry. Students learn about various topics through demonstrations, hands-on labs, interactive games, lectures, discussion, selected readings, and non-fiction video programs. The scientific method, a vital component integrated throughout the program, is taught both directly and indirectly.

Social Studies

Social studies is taught through units of study and is integrated into the entire curriculum across all grade levels. In the Lower and Middle Divisions, social studies is presented in both individual classrooms and in groups of two to three classes. Topics in the Lower Division revolve around the calendar encompassing holidays, customs, traditions, and certain celebrated dates, such as Martin Luther King Day, Earth Day, and Memorial Day. In the Middle Division, topics of study often include Delaware history, United States and world geography, African American history, and women’s history.

Upper Division social studies is a separate subject taught three times a week by a qualified history educator. The focus of instruction is American history beginning with the early explorers and continuing into the twentieth century. In addition, elements of geography, political science, ancient history, and current events are incorporated into their studies.

For all divisions, high interest, hands-on projects and computer activities enhance the learning experience. Field trips to local museums, historic sites, and educational events extend and solidify learning.

Art

Students in all three divisions have scheduled art classes once a week. The students are provided with

the opportunity to work with three-dimensional media such as clay, wire, wood, recyclables, and various found objects as well as participate in many diverse, structured activities including drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, weaving, and. Elements of art, design, and art history are incorporated into the curriculum, and students are offered an additional six hours of art each week if enrolled in the After School Program.

Age appropriate skills are taught, and students are then encouraged and supported while working individually on projects of their own design. Classroom artwork is connected with curricular projects including those for Math, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies. The Art Program helps develop and expand each student’s creativity, fine motor integration, art making skills, mutual respect, and self-esteem. Group projects help students work as a team towards a shared goal, and the importance of listening during conversation is continual and a vital objective.

Students' work is displayed within the school on an ongoing basis throughout the year. Some pieces become part of Pilot’s permanent collection and remain on the walls. The school participates in the Delaware Association of Independent School’s Middle School Art Show each spring.

Physical Education

Physical Education is a major component of the student program at The Pilot School. Fitness and a healthy lifestyle are emphasized, and the importance of social interaction through cooperative learning is key. Students will have PE three, four, or five days per week, depending upon their division.


Three to four homerooms from the same division are scheduled together for Physical Education. The students are regrouped according to swimming and physical skill levels. One group has Aquatics in the school swimming pool, while

another group is in the large gymnasium for instruction. An Adaptive Physical Education group is often scheduled in the small gym, depending upon the activities planned for the day. Each class period includes a warm-up, skills instruction, and games.

The Physical Education program includes six 4-week units, with “Presidential Fitness Testing” incorporated into the classes throughout the year. A six-week unit at the end of the school year focuses on recreational activities such as bowling, badminton, or golf.

Other opportunities for physical activity and fitness include:

Morning recess for Lower and Middle Division
Lunch recess for all students
Before-school Kickball
Field Day
Physical Education in Our Schools Month (May)
Adaptive Physical Education throughout the year
Occupational and Physical Therapies
One-hour daily activity period in June
Lower Division Yoga

After School Sports

Three sessions of after school sports are offered to all students in the Upper Division. Students may volunteer to participate in soccer in the fall, basketball during the winter, and intramural volleyball in the spring. For some students, this provides a first opportunity for team participation; for others, further development of team-playing skills. Scrimmages that involve players of approximately matching abilities are arranged with local independent schools.

Run Club

All students are encouraged to participate in Run Club to help build endurance and to teach perseverance and goal setting. Run Club is a voluntary activity offered to all students. It is held during lunch recess for a 15 to 20 minute period. Children choose a goal, decide a distance to run daily, and continue until that goal is reached. The daily distance chosen can be 1/2 mile, 1 mile, 1 1/2 miles or 2 miles. The Physical Education teachers and assisting staff keep a record of the students’ achievements. As runners reach a goal, they are recognized at a Monday morning Opening.