Specials for Pre-K through Grade 8
Special classes at the Academy of Notre Dame include offerings in art, music, STEAM technology, world languages, library and physical education. While these types of classes are often the first place financial cuts are made, the Academy considers them vital to our whole child educational philosophy. We believe that the specialist courses allow students to discover their gifts and talents in unique disciplines, while connecting scientific and artistic talents to academic coursework.
In order to achieve this, the academic excellence and spiritual formation of the Academy curriculum is strengthened by its extracurricular, or “specials” curriculum. Our students in Pre-K through grade 8 have the opportunity to participate in a variety of specialist courses.
Physical fitness is a high priority at the Academy, with weekly physical education classes and extensive intramural and competitive athletic opportunities. Students in grades 5 - 8 can participate on school athletic teams. Academy students are also eligible to participate fully in Tyngsboro town teams, both recreational and travel. Learn more about Athletics at the Academy.
We are fortunate, here at the Academy to be a part of a community that continues to add to this discipline in order to best support each child’s personal growth.
Use the tabs below to read grade overview descriptions of each special.
Students partake in weekly 45-minute art classes beginning in Pre-K through grade 8. Projects based on age- level are showcased on Fine Arts Night in May. The emphasis for art class for students in Kindergarten through second grade is on developing observation and fine motor skills. Compositions of animals and figures are created using simple geometric shapes.
Students in grades 3-4 are taught fundamentals and principles of art such as design, color and space. Assignments encourage more independent thinking for expression using these new skills.
Older students in grades 5-8 explore acrylic painting and 3D sculpture. In fifth grade, students make animal masks and study portraiture; sixth graders create 3D animal sculptures; and seventh graders study still life and landscapes with acrylics. As a final project, eighth grade students sand, design and paint a piece of furniture that remains in the school.
Work from all grades is displayed at the annual Fine Arts Night which will be held on Thursday, May 18th.
Students in grades Pre-K through 8 have access to our two computer labs as part of their curriculum where instruction is given by the technology teacher. Grades PreK-5 have Computer Fundamentals and grades 6-8 have Informational Systems.
The Library Learning Commons serves the entire school population. Students have regularly scheduled library periods of 45 minutes a week to develop a love of literature, research skills and reading for life. Students in Grades Pre-K through grade 2 visit the Library on a weekly basis for a 40 minute intstructional period. Lower School students in Grades 3 through 8 have the opportunity to visit the Learning Commons during all open recess periods. Teachers may also arrange to visit the Learning Commons with students for research and instructional purposes. Upper School students are also encouraged to use the Library Learning Commons to do independent research.
Music is offered to all Lower School grades once a week. Fourth graders learn to play the recorder. In Mr. Cangiano’s music class, students in the younger grades learn about Irish ballads and African American spirituals. They learn that during the construction of the transcontinental railway, Irish immigrants were working side by side with recently freed slaves. While at work, the laborers shared each other’s musical culture and heritage: African American spirituals with their powerful, concise lyrics and syncopated rhythms; Irish ballads with their clever storytelling and beautiful melodies.
Fourth and sixth graders get familiar with the symphony orchestra learning the families of instruments, names of instruments and sound of each instrument. Classes are introduced to Gustav Holst’s The Planets and students guess which planet Holst was trying to represent in sound. They do this by listening for musical clues including tempo, dynamics and instrumentation.
Seventh grade students listen to excerpts from many Broadway musicals as they explore groundbreaking shows by Rodgers and Hammerstein and Stephen Sondheim like Carousel and Into the Woods.
Finally, eighth graders finish an introduction to classical music. Students compare musical styles in each period from several great composers including Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.
In Physical Education (PE) class, all students in PreK through grade 8 learn to maintain a healthy lifestyle through physical activity. Students participate in 45 minutes of physical education per week in addition to mid-morning and lunchtime recess periods during which physical activity is encouraged. At the PreK through Grade 1 level, students focus on the basic loco-motor skills (running, jumping , skipping, etc.) and manipulative skills (throwing, catching, dribbling, kicking, etc.) through various small group activities. In grades 2 through 5, students incorporate their learned skills into modified sport activities. In grades 6 through 8, students are focused on sport related activities and learn more about game strategies and rules of the game.
We do not just focus on the physical aspect of the student but also focus on social and emotional skills as well. At each grade level, students are working with partners and small and large groups to encourage communicating, working together, and supporting one another. Most importantly, I stress to all students that PE class is supposed to be fun!
Currently, the students in the lower grades Kindergarten through grade 3 are reviewing all of the skills learned during the year and incorporating them into a track and field setting (running, jumping, throwing etc). Grades 6 through 7 are participating in a track and field unit and are learning about the different events, their rules, and proper techniques. Grade 8 is participating in a fitness unit where they are learning about muscular and cardiovascular strength through various exercises.
STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. This class teaches how to integrate all four of these disciplines to solve problems and create innovative projects the same way everyday scientists and engineers do in our modern era. Students are taught STEAM concepts through an inquiry-based teaching method where they work collaboratively to solve real-world problems. STEAM concepts are also integrated into all courses.
Technology is integrated into classroom teaching beginning in Pre-K with students as young as 2.9 years old. Older students participate in experimental labs, play interactive computer games and do coding, and they work in groups to create models of real life solutions to problems which are STEAM related. They learn the design process for engineering, as well as develop a deeper understanding of what technology means (not just computers and computerized toys). Lower grades, for example, build bridges and archways and towers using simple materials like straws, tinfoil, pipe cleaners and raw spaghetti. Higher grades build mechanical arms that can pick up a cup, windmills that raise a miniature car ten inches, and ziplines for ping pong balls.
The activities chosen are based on a review of the federal and state standards for these areas. NSTA and MIT resources, along with a myriad of others, help me find activities that best suit the student learning process. I am keenly focused on making this class an experience of really fun discovery. The kids have a great time as they do their work!
In the fall of 2017 the Academy will introduce our new Makerspace which will be a dedicated room in which students can explore STEAM applications, design and build projects.
The principal aim of the World Language program is to provide students with the skills needed to communicate in a second language and to develop strong fundamentals skills in oral communication (listening and speaking), reading, and writing.
Spanish and French are introduced as young as pre-kindergarten, but the program of study begins in earnest starting in grade Kindergarten 2. Currently the program allows for a change of language curriculum mid-year (from Spanish to French) in grades K2 to 5 and meets once a week.
Starting in K2, introductory lessons are presented to build a foundation in world language skills. The alphabet, numbers and colors are a strong focus. Songs and games bring the program to life.
By the end of grade 2 your child will be prepared to use the skills learned in a more interactive setting in Grades 3, 4, and 5.
In Grade 6, French or Spanish is chosen and followed throughout the entire year. From that point forward, classes meet five days a week and are part of the regular academic requirements. The 7th and 8th grade level curriculum is designed to follow a first year high school curriculum, divided in two years. Upon completion of the program, students should be eligible to enter Spanish/French level 2 or a corresponding Honors Level Program at the freshman level in high school.
The program adopts a broad spectrum of communication skills utilizing the five C’s of essential foreign language education: Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons and Community. Additionally, elements of the Catholic faith tradition are integrated in the target language curriculum in order to provide a meaningful language and cultural experience within the context of the Catholic faith. The program follows the guidelines of an immersion program where the language of choice is taught for a minimum of 50% of the total instructional time at every grade level of study.
We extend an invitation for you to visit us in person. Please contact the Admissions Office via email at email@example.com, or by calling 978-649-7611, Ext 327 to arrange a tour. We’d love the opportunity to meet you and your child.