Elementary School Grades K-5
The Reading/Language Arts curriculum of the Upper Darby School District is designed to address the Pennsylvania State Reading and Language Arts standards and the Pennsylvania Curriculum Framework. It is our intent to develop students who think critically, communicate effectively, and construct and convey meaning.
The elementary curriculum is integrated, research based, rigorous, and routine driven built upon explicit and systematic instruction. It has been designed to reflect the latest scientifically based research in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, written language and handwriting. A solid core curriculum provides the foundation for this comprehensive curriculum. An important highlight is the opportunity it provides for all students to reach rigorous state standards through differentiated and scaffolded instruction.
A three-block literacy framework is the vehicle that drives the delivery of instruction. Two hours a day is dedicated to the teaching of Reading and Language Arts. Reading skills and strategies are introduced and modeled in Block 1. Students meet with their teachers in small groups in Block 2 to apply these new skills within instructional level reading materials. Differentiated instruction is truly a hallmark of the Upper Darby Reading /Language Arts curriculum. Grammar and writing are the primary focus of Block 3. Instruction in the writing process is a critical component. Students learn to write within a variety of modes and are provided with explicit instruction in the use of the six traits of writing.
In addition, all students participate in a 45-minute "Power Block" where they are provided with additional intervention or acceleration targeted to their specific needs. This Response to Intervention model supports and or extends the major tenets of the grade level core curriculum.
The goal of the Upper Darby Elementary Reading and Language Arts curriculum is to build a strong foundation that will cultivate literate and knowledge seeking citizens of the 21st century. "Acquiring literacy is an empowering process, enabling millions to enjoy access to knowledge and information which broadens horizons, increases opportunities and creates alternatives for building a better life." Kofi Annan
English /Language Arts
Middle School Grades 6-8
The Middle School English / Language Arts Program is aligned with the Pennsylvania Academic Standards and is based on the belief that reading, writing, listening, and speaking are best learned when they are integrated into meaningful and researched-based activities that engage every student in the learning process. Upper Darby is a richly diverse community and the English/ Language Arts curriculum is a reflection of that diversity. Students read fiction, non-fiction, poetry, novels, and drama in theme-related units that include literature from a wide variety of cultures and time periods. Each theme is framed with essential questions that encourage students to think deeply about the world in which they live and to express their opinions orally, through written work, or in group-centered projects. The study of vocabulary related to literary elements, as well as vocabulary encountered while reading is included in each theme unit.
Targeted reading strategies are taught, practiced, and used to facilitate the students' comprehension of texts. Students are further encouraged to become active, involved readers who interact with the written word and explore how the literature they read intersects with the experiences in their own lives.
Instructions in the writing process as well as analysis of the traits and forms of writing are critical aspects of the curriculum and are continued and expanded through middle school. Students are instructed in the characteristics of narrative, expository, and persuasive writing in all three grades and are asked to apply these characteristics to specific pieces of their own composition. Upper Darby School District incorporates the researched-based strategies of the John Collins Writing Program into the secondary English/ Language Arts Curriculum. Opportunities to practice formal as well as informal writing and to investigate language are provided each day.
Research is an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based process that encourages higher order thinking and effective use of real world tools. Students select questions based on specific topics related to their course of study in social studies. Teachers instruct students on critical prerequisite skills such as how to locate, evaluate, and cite credible sources, as well as how to paraphrase and summarize the information they use.
High School Grades 9-12
The goal of the English/Language Arts curriculum at Upper Darby High School is to provide the students with the skills necessary to function in a 21st century world.
Students study a variety of literary forms including the epic, the short story, the novel, drama, poetry, and non-fiction text. Teachers model and reinforce strategies that help students develop and master strong reading as well as oral and written communication skills. As students learn about literary genres, they discuss how these expressive forms relate to their own lives and help them understand and interpret the human condition. Instruction in listening, speaking, and using higher order thinking skills is integrated into the discussion and analysis of literature. An in-depth study of vocabulary is taught within the context of the literary selections at every grade level. Research projects help students investigate and extend their understanding of curriculum topics, and teachers continue their instruction in the skills that support student research. Student work and progress is assessed and measured in a manner consistent with Pennsylvania Academic Standards.
Writing is taught as a process, and the John Collins Writing Program continues to serve as a model for both formal and informal writing activities. Teachers evaluate formal pieces of writing using the Pennsylvania Writing Assessment Domain Scoring Guide.
Mathematics learning is a matter of central importance to our society. Mathematical experiences in schools enable students to become mathematically literate citizens. How much mathematics students learn, and how well they learn it, depends to a great extent on the quantity and quality of the mathematics instructional programs they encounter.
The math program in Upper Darby School District is committed to offering well-designed courses, organized into logical, sequential programs of study, designed to provide a rigorous environment to produce students that are mathematically literate. The key content in our program will focus on the areas defined by the PA Math Standards: Numbers and Operations, Measurement, Geometry, Algebraic Concepts, and Data Analysis and Probability.
The major emphasis at the Elementary level is for students to master the concepts of Numbers and Operations to provide a strong foundation for future study in math. The Elementary level also provides an introduction in the areas of Measurement, Geometry, Algebraic Concepts, and Data Analysis and Probability. The Middle School level begins to shift the major emphasis from Numbers and Operations to Algebraic Concepts. A number of students will be ready to complete a formal course in Algebra 1 in 8th grade, while all others will be prepared for this when they enter 9th grade. The High School level provides a strong core content for all students to successfully complete two formal courses in Algebra (Algebra 1 and 2), along with a formal course in Geometry. Upon completion of this core, a variety of math electives are available for study in the areas of Advanced Algebra and Trigonometry, Calculus, Probability and Statistics, and Computer Programming.
Success in learning mathematics for grades K – 12 will be defined in five areas that all students must demonstrate a level of competency to become mathematically literate. The most important feature of these five areas is that they have equal importance, and need to be learned both independently and dependently.
These areas are:
- Understanding: Comprehending mathematical concepts, operations, and relationships. Knowing what mathematical symbols, diagrams, and procedures mean.
- Computing: Carrying out mathematical procedures accurately, efficiently, and appropriately both by paper and pencil and with the use of technological tools.
- Applying: Being able to formulate problems mathematically and to devise strategies for solving them using concepts and procedures appropriately.
- Communicating: Being able to explain mathematical procedures clearly using appropriate mathematical vocabulary.
- Reasoning: Using logic to justify a solution to a problem or to extend from something known to something not yet known.
To accomplish this task, the instruction of mathematics will focus around five key themes.
- Cooperative Learning: Students will be responsible to work together with other students to solve problems in a well-structured classroom environment.
- Mathematical Modeling: Students will use mathematical expressions and equations to model problem situations from real life.
- Computers and Scientific and Graphics Calculators: Students will use technological tools to enable them to use more "real world" numbers and situations.
- Writing to Learn Mathematics: Students will explore, construct, discover, and explain mathematical meaning through their own written compositions.
- Student Projects and Presentations: Students will apply mathematics in completing projects and then present their work to others.
Social Studies Program
Elementary and Middle School Grades 1-8
The Upper Darby School District adopted Social Studies Alive!(grades 1-5) and History Alive! (grades 6-8) in 2008-2009. Both are developed and published by Teacher's Curriculum Institute (TCI). The TCI curriculum has theory and research based active instruction, standards based content, multiple intelligence teaching strategies and considerate text. The curriculum is spiral in nature. First graders consider the child's School and Family*, second grade focuses on Community, and third grade targets Community and Beyond. In the fourth grade students are introduced to United States geography and economics in Regions of Our Country. By fifth grade the students are ready for United States history from colonial life to the post-Civil War era in America's Past. Sixth graders explore world geography and the continents in Geography Alive! Seventh graders go back to the roots of our civilization with History Alive! - The Ancient World studying Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome. The middle school experience is capped by returning to American historical, economic, and civic threads from 5th grade in The United States Through Industrialism. Eighth graders study American history from 1787 up to and including World War I.
High School Grades 9-12
At the high school level students engage in more sophisticated analysis and reconstruction of the past, examining its relationship to the present and its implications for the future. Ninth grade Global Studies considers the history, culture, economy and geography of the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. This can be done as an area study or by theme. Tenth grade picks up the birth of our nation, the Constitution, and democracy at work in Government and Law, while Eleventh Graders study U.S. History from 1890 to the present. An alternative to this survey course is the study of American history together with American literature and culture in American Studies. 12th graders can elect European History, Economics, or Human Behavior, which is a combination of Psychology and Sociology. Advanced Placement courses are offered in United States History, Government and Politics, and European History for college credit.
By the end of high school, Upper Darby students will better understand events, trends, personalities, and movements in local, state, national and world history. They will know local, state, and national world geography. They will grasp how the concepts of social studies can help interpret human actions and prepare them for careers and lifelong learning.
The Upper Darby School District Social Studies program grades 1 -12 is aligned to Pennsylvania Social Studies standards and benchmarks. The program has as its goal civic competence for Upper Darby students and the integration of history, geography, economics, and civics within the curriculum. These fields of endeavor are interrelated and interdisciplinary in the Upper Darby program.
Elementary School Grades K-5
The goal for science at the elementary level is for students to come to understand scientific concepts at an age appropriate level, develop life long scientific attitudes and habits of mind and be able to apply scientific reasoning and critical thinking skills to problems.
All science lessons are designed around the Learning Cycle: focus, explore, explain and apply. Reasoning skills begin in Kindergarten with students observing, measuring and identifying properties, and continue to build until middle school when students begin to design and conduct controlled experiments. In the elementary classroom, students use hands-on learning to develop understandings about science in four areas keyed to the Pennsylvania State Science Standards and Assessment Anchors: The Nature of Science, Biological Science (including Environmental Science), Physical Science, and Earth and Space Science. Students who follow through the elementary sequence are prepared to take the PSSA Science test in spring of 4th grade.
The science curriculum will help children develop skills in all areas. The inquiry-centered approach emphasizes cooperative learning, which helps students build their social and interpersonal skills. Additionally they learn to accept the opinions of others. Reading, speaking and listening skills are also developed as students complete record sheets, keep science notebooks, read stories about the topics being covered, and share their findings formally and informally. Math skills are developed as they measure, weigh, compare, design data tables and create graphs and charts.
Middle and High School Grades 6-12
The goal for science at the secondary level is for students to come to understand scientific concepts at an age appropriate level, develop life long scientific attitudes and habits of mind, and be able to use scientific reasoning and critical thinking skills in their lives.
The Pennsylvania State Science Standards and Assessment Anchors provide the framework for the curriculum. As students move through the sequence of courses covering The Nature of Science, Biological Science (including Environmental Science), Physical Science, and Earth and Space Scienceat the middle school level, they are prepared to take the PSSA Science in the spring of 8th grade.
Students at the high school level have a more diversified curriculum, with over 30 different science courses from which to choose, from General Science in 9th grade through the challenges of Advanced Placement Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. All science courses at the high school level have a laboratory component, and many students take advantage of such opportunities as the Outdoor Classroom in Naylor's Run Park, the gardens of the Horticulture program, and the school / industry partnership with the biotechnology firm, Centocor.
Building on the skills developed in the elementary grades, students move from making concrete observations of the world around them tobeing able to provide abstract explanations about the world around them, developing mathematical and other models to enhance their understanding. The science courses provide application of skills in reading, writing, and mathematics that support the learning in the other content areas. Reading, speaking, writing, and listening skills are developed as students work together, conduct research, and present their findings to their classmates in both written and oral reports. Math skills are developed as they apply concepts of algebra, trigonometry, and calculus to solve problems.
The Upper Darby School District Science Curriculum strives to create individuals who have the ability to apply scientific understandings and ways of thinking, and to provide the skills necessary for success in college-level science courses. These are essential for all citizens in a world that is shaped by science and technology.
"Art is humanity's most essential, most universal language. It is not a frill, but a necessary part of communication. The quality of civilization can be measured through its music, dance, drama, architecture, visual arts, and literature. We must give our children knowledge and understanding of civilization's most profound work." Toward Civilization: A Report on Arts Educationby Ernest L. Boyer
The Visual Fine Arts Program in Upper Darby School District is strongly rooted in the Pennsylvania Standards for the Arts and Humanities. We provide an art experience that stimulates the student's creativity, promotes self-esteem, and builds critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary to move forward both technically and aesthetically, into Twenty-First Century Thinkers.
In Art Class, students from grades 1 to 12, throughout the District, learn to:
- Apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills
- They receive extensive practice necessary to understand basic symbol systems and abstract concepts
- Students study art history and cultures
- Students learn to identify and further understand the arts connections to their core subject matter, i.e.; Math, Science, Social Studies, and English as it relates to their own lives
- Students learn to identify the creative process in works of art and apply those concepts to their own creative process, producing unique works of their own
- Students develop verbal and non-verbal communication skills
- Students practice high level thinking while learning to describe, analyze, interpret and judge works of art developing their own aesthetic and ability to engage in authentic art criticism
- At the High School level, students are exposed and have the opportunity to, work with Creative Suites programs in Technology with the focus being mastery of technology as it applies to artistic expression.
Upper Darby School Districts philosophy of Art is reflected in the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Arts and Humanities:
"The arts represent society's capacity to integrate human experience with individual creativity. Comprehensive study of the arts provides an opportunity for all students to observe, reflect and participate both in the arts of their culture and the cultures of others. Sequential study in the arts and humanities provides the knowledge and the analytical skills necessary to evaluate and critique a media-saturated culture. -"An arts education in the Upper Darby School District"- contributes to the development of productive citizens who have gained creative and technological knowledge necessary for employment in the 21st Century." (PAEA Academic Standards for Arts and Humanities)
Our program in the Upper Darby School District uses our standards based curriculum to provide our students with a comprehensive education in the Visual Arts.
Working in partnership with the Philadelphia Art Museum, our students attend the museum twice during their 5th grade year, for a structured cultural and aesthetic experience that has been developed in partnership with the school district and the Philadelphia Art Museum.
With the opportunity for small grants available through the Arts and Education Association teacher use this money for Artists in Residence, Specialty Art programs such as glass art, and special needs for the Art classroom.
Our Art Faculty throughout the district is a compilation of excellent art educators, who are practicing artists.
Students interested in pursuing careers in the Arts are uniquely prepared through our comprehensive program, which offers:
Studio Art, Sculpture Studio, Ceramics, Advanced Sculpture and Ceramics, Visual Arts, Book Arts, Computer Generated Art, Advanced Computer Generated Art, Art Major 1, 2, and 3, as well as, Advanced and Advanced Placement Art. At the High School our Advanced fine arts and Computer Art students have a reputation for winning top awards in our local Congressional Art show, Hussian School of Art's annual competition, the Antonelli Institute's bi-annual juried competition, to name a few.
Finally, our culminating activity for the production and aesthetic appreciation of our students' hard work and creative endeavours, as well as, the involvement of our community at large, is our Annual Upper Darby School District Arts Festival, held on a Saturday every spring. Please join us for this outstanding event! Details will be posted on our website.
The Music Program of the Upper Darby School District gives students the opportunity to succeed in all forms of musical expression. The curricular areas address the Music Educators National Conference Standards, and the Pennsylvania State Standards for Arts and Humanities.
The Elementary School curriculum is Orff concentrated, and focuses on the main concepts of singing, playing, listening, creating, theory and movement. Additionally, students can be involved in performing choruses, bands, and orchestras. Instrumental instruction is offered to players from grades 3 (strings), 4, and 5.
The Middle School curriculum ranges from the elements of music and musical theater in grade six, styles of music in grade seven, and popular music, from the 1950's to the present, in grade 8. All three grades have a sequential progression of piano skills in keyboard labs. Instrumental sectionals, vocal classes and before school rehearsals allow young performers to participate in a myriad of school and community activities.
The High School offers a broad array of choral and instrumental performance based courses in addition to Piano Keyboard/Theory. Music students are given countless opportunities to perform with major cultural institutions within the area. Our marching band, indoor guard and drum line , which are extra-curricular, compete in regional and national festivals. Auditioned choral groups travel yearly to participate in adjudicated performances. All of the music performances allow students to serve the community, and to expand their horizons as maturing young people.
The culmination of all musical activities is the annual Upper Darby Arts and Education Foundation Gala. Through the guided expertise of the district music staff, a concert that features all of the districts' musicians, raises substantial funds to offer grants to teachers. This event is one of great pride to Upper Darby and the fourteen schools within this vast and diverse school district where all children can flourish in the musical world.
Health and Physical Education
The Health and Physical Education program in the Upper Darby School District is designed to motivate and encourage active participation in developing life skills for optimal mental, social, and physical health. High-quality, standards-based physical education instruction helps students learn not only the skills and knowledge required to be physically fit and active, but it also gives them the confidence and positive attitude necessary to participate in physical activities.
The framework for physical education in Upper Darby Schools, first grade through grade twelve, is an essential resource for the development, implementation, and evaluation of standards-based physical education programs and instruction. It reinforces the importance of physical education as a vital component of our students' educational experience and its contribution to each student's health and well being, social development, and readiness to learn.
Fast-forward to the future. A generation of students in Upper Darby is benefiting from standards-based physical education instruction. As young adults these individuals are physically active and fit. They understand the benefits of regular physical activity and know how to plan and implement their own fitness-and-wellness programs. Having mastered the necessary movement skills to participate confidently in many different forms of physical activity, they are ready to challenge themselves by pursuing new forms of movement. These young adults analyze their own movement performance on the basis of biomechanics principles. They develop their own learning plans for improving their motor skills and learning new ones. With an understanding of developmentally appropriate activities, they can plan and implement physical activities for young children and children with special needs. They also enjoy the social interactions that arise out of their involvement in physical activity and take responsibility for their interactions with others. They will maintain an active and healthy lifestyle throughout their lives.
Physical education is a planned sequential K-12 program that provides cognitive content and learning experiences in a variety of activity areas. Quality physical education should promote, through a variety of planned activities, each student's optimum physical, mental, emotional and social development, and should provide activities and sports that all students enjoy and can pursue throughout their lives. Qualified, trained teachers teach physical education.
The Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education describe what students should know and be able to do by the end of third, sixth, ninth and twelfth grade. The standards are sequential across the grade levels and reflect the increasing complexity and rigor that students are expected to achieve. The Standards define the content for planned instruction that will result in measurable gains for all students in knowledge and skill. School entities will use these standards to develop local school curriculum and assessments that will meet the needs of the students.
The Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education provide students with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to achieve and maintain a physically active and healthful life. The attainment of these standards will favorably impact their lives and the lives of those around them. By becoming and remaining physically, mentally, socially and emotionally healthy, students will increase their chances of achieving to their highest academic potential.
The Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education provide parents with specific information about the knowledge and skills students should be developing as they progress through their educational programs. With the standards serving as clearly defined targets, parents, students, teachers and community members will be able to become partners in helping children achieve educational success. The categories associated with the Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education are: concepts of health, healthful living, safety and injury prevention,physical activity,and the principles and strategies of movement.
Library and Media Program
The purpose of the library/media program is to serve as a support to the curriculum, to establish and coordinate resources and instruction for students, to develop skills necessary for effective research and information management so as to further students’ educational progress and leisure time activities, and to maximize the potential for life-long learning.
The Upper Darby library program is based upon National Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning and uses Jamie McKenzie’s Research Cycle and Questioning Toolkit. It functions as an integral part of the total curriculum and provides the resources, services, instruction and technology necessary to meet the goals of the teaching and learning experience. In addition, the program accommodates the intellectual, social, and cultural needs of each student. Through the program, students will develop critical thinking skills and the ability to obtain, interpret, and use information in order to become independent learners. To accomplish these goals, instructional support is also provided to teachers in curriculum planning and the selection and use of instructional technologies.
World Languages Program
Philosophy and Goals:
Communicating in the target language the students have chosen is the ultimate goal. The interpersonal, interpretive and presentational modes of communication are explored and then studied in depth. Students will speak and hear the target language on a daily basis. By Level 2 the teacher and students will communicate in the target language for the majority of the time. Students learn to communicate through participating in a variety of reading, writing, listening and speaking activities daily. The benefits of studying a world language are many. Students understand their own language more deeply. Their vocabulary is increased. Listening and retention skills are honed. More highly developed thinking skills are displayed. This often results in higher verbal and math scores on the SATs. Greater cultural awareness and empathy are exhibited. After high school students have a competitive edge for college admission. Once in college, students are able to pursue more advanced conversation and literature courses. Job opportunities are expanded. Having the ability to communicate in another language other than English makes one a better candidate for all careers. Relationships with neighbors and community members are enhanced. Students meet and communicate with people they otherwise may not have a chance to know.
Beverly Hills and Drexel Hill Middle Schools
- In Grade 6 students are introduced to the language patterns and cultures of both languages offered: French and Spanish.
- In Grade 7 and 8 students choose one language to pursue. They have class 3 out of 6 days. This is an introductory course designed around the themes of self, family, school, free time activities, food and health issues.
Upper Darby High School
- Grade 9 Students continue the language they began in Middle School. Students widen their structural and lexical knowledge. If students did not have a Middle School experience, they have the opportunity to begin a language.
- Grades 10-12 Students can continue their studies through Target Language 5 Advanced Placement. In Spanish, a post AP course is offered as well.
By learning vocabulary, grammar and studying culture students are developing the skills of the 5Cs as described by The Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century. They are communication, cultures, connections, comparisons and communities. Students are expected to work participating in independent activities, paired work and small group projects. Listening is practiced through audio cds, videotapes, total physical response and listening to the teacher. Speaking is practiced by repeating after model (teacher, cds, video tapes), responding to questions or directions, interactive communicative activities and free response (using what was previously learned in a new context). Readings are drawn from dialogs, stories with the purpose of learning cultural information; drawing inferences, determining the main idea, reading for information. Writings are from copying, learning to spell, filling in the blanks, and writing from dictation, to free expression through controlled and open-ended writing activities Culture is examined by use of audio and video tapes, films, PowerPoint presentations, art prints, television and internet programs.
Students taking World Languages courses will be expected to:
- Attend and participate regularly in class
- Complete assignments on time and satisfactorily
- Use the target language as much as possible in class
- Achieve a minimum score of 70% on oral, listening, and written quizzes and tests
- Achieve a minimum of 70% on a departmentalized final exam.
*Also, in addition to the daytime offerings, Beginning Mandarin and Italian are "Block 6" options for 10th – 12th grader language students. These classes meet twice a week after school from 3:00 to 4:30 for the entire school year.