Wilson Focus School Curriculum Connections


Wilson Focus School has carefully selected curriculum that meets the Nebraska State Standards while also meeting our extra value standards of leadership, technology, and communication. Curriculum reflects research based best practices that enhance learning for all students. Lessons are designed to teach to a targeted goal. Through engaging actiivities students are taught using the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model. Assessment and effective feedback are used to help students self reflect and allow teachers to redesign lessons that help reteach concepts to insure that students understand and are successful.

Our teachers have received professional development and use materials from Creative Mathematics author and presenter, Kim Sutton. Through the use of manipulatives, games, music and other methods we engage students and help them gain a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts and reasoning. Her basic philosophy for teaching mathematics is based on six guiding principles or big ideas.

1.   All mathematics is based on patterns. Understanding of the mathematical process should occur when solving problems. Most of us remember solving certain problems by memorizing, “Ours is not to question why, just invert and multiply!” We may have gotten the solution but did not understand the mathematics. There are two kinds of patterns in mathematics-repeating and growth patterns. 

2.   The language of mathematics is spoken here. Every day, teachers need to model the correct use of mathematical terminology. Language becomes a tool for students to explain their thinking. Through the use of math dictionaries and class made math word walls, students learn key vocabulary in mathematics and its practical application.

3.   Mathematics is filled with constants. Mathematics is based on rules that do not have exceptions. This is a fundamental for building algebraic foundations.

4.   There are no accidents in mathematics. Students will understand visual patterns that apply to all numbers.

5.   Mathematics is the pursuit of laziness! Students love this message. Once they discover a pattern, then they are free to take a shortcut. Not the shortcut first! The understanding comes first. Many students get answers by only following a procedure without understanding. A strong foundation for mathematics is based on understanding, not procedure!

6.   Mathematics teaches the power to persevere. Students learn to stick with a problem until it is solved. 

Math Activity Example:

  1. Number index cards 0-9 twice each (for a total of 20 cards) 
  2. Put students in groups of 2
  3. Give each student a sheet that has the number of place values you want them to learn (ex. _ _ _, _ _ _, _ _ _ if you want them to know through the millions period)
  4. Make sure they can't see each other's paper
  5. Partner 1 draws a card and decides which position to put the digit in
  6. Partner 2 does the same
  7. Play continues until all positions have been filled
  8. Partners compare numbers to see whose is greater

 * This game helps students become familiar with place value, positions, value of numbers in those positions, and comparing numbers

 *Students have to be able to reason that if they draw a high number (ex. 9) they should put it in the position with the greatest value and if they draw a low number (ex. 0) then it should go in the position with the lowest value.

Teachers and staff have taken part in training institutes sponsored by Math Solutions and led by author and presenter, Marilyn Burns.   

Social Studies Alive! is a program that highly engages students in the learning of key historical concepts. Students are active participants instead of passive observers, experiencing history through innovative teaching practices that include dramatic role-playing, creative simulations, dynamic group projects, and writing from a historical perspective. Students have access to their textbook on line using their personal computers provided at school. They can also monitor their own learning using an Internet Tutorial.

An Interactive Student Notebook is a keystone component of the Social Studies Alive! Curriculum. This is where all the parts of the integrated lesson come together---the lesson Preview activity, the Reading Notes from the chapter’s content, and the Processing assignment. 

Social Studies Alive! combines the following three educational theories:

1.   Students have multiple intelligences. Howard Gardner’s research found that every student excels in two or three of the multiple intelligences. According to theory, every student is intelligent---but in different ways. Seven intelligences have been identified:

Ø  Verbal Linguistic

Ø  Logical-mathematical

Ø  Visual-Spatial

Ø  Body-Kinesthetic

Ø  Musical-Rhythmic

Ø  Interpersonal

Ø  Intrapersonal

2.   Cooperative interaction increases learning and improves social skills.  The second theoretical premise behind this approach is based on Elizabeth Cohen’s findings that cooperative groupwork leads to increased student interaction and, ultimately, to increased learning gains.  Teaching history in an interactive and engaging way necessitates creating a cooperative, tolerant classroom.   In this environment, students will learn to share ideas, to work together cooperatively, to tolerate differences, to disagree honestly, and to take risks---and all students will feel valued and respected.    The curriculum offers a careful, step-by-step program of cooperative skill building.  This curriculum correlates with our school focus of leadership and communication. 

3.   All students can learn.  The third theoretical premise behind Social Studies Alive! approach is the idea of the spiral curriculum.  Championed by educational theorist Jerome Bruner, the spiral curriculm is the belief that all students can learn if a teacher shows them how to think and discover knowledge for themselves.  Students learn progressively more difficult concepts through a process of step-by-step discovery.  

Here are some tips on supporting your child’s academic progress in Social Studies class.



  • Discuss history and current events with your child, and listen to what your child has to say.
  • Ask to see the Interactive Student Notebook on a regular basis, so you can see for yourself what your child is learning.
  • Provide a quiet study place, free from distractions.
  • Finally, extend learning beyond the walls of the classroom by taking your child to historical sites or museums. Point out that history is all around us, that it shapes the present and the future, and that every one of us can play an active and positive role in it.

Description: enVisionMath

The enVisionMATH program meets the varied needs of students and teachers without undermining the strength of its curriculum.  Math is taught using daily problem-based interactive learning followed by visual learning strategies that accelerate learning by making strong, sequential visual/verbal connections as well as daily differentiation and ongoing diagnosis & intervention.  enVisionMATH gives every student the opportunity to succeed.   


Conceptual Understanding
Envision a math program where pictures do the talking. enVisionMATH is the first math program that develops math concepts through interactive and visual learning. All classrooms at Wilson Focus School have Smartboards which teachers use to project animated and interactive lessons. Each student has their own laptop to access their text and online lessons. 

Problem Solving
Envision a math program where problem solving is no problem. Problem solving and higher order thinking and questioning are built into lessons to increase mathematical reasoning and understanding.

Understanding by Design
Envision a math program that is planned and designed for understanding based on Dr. Grant Wiggins’ concept of Understanding by Design, which ensures that you deliberately target your students’ understanding. This is done through lessons that are designed to have clear learning outcomes. Lessons focus on the outcome and anticipating student misunderstandings. Assessments are central to curriculum design and used to adjust lessons to differentiate and insure student success. Students are provided effective and specific feedback early and often, in order to self reflect and receive re-teaching necessary for their individual success. Understanding should include the ability to transfer the learning to other situations.   

Meeting Individual Needs
Envision a math program where every child counts. Data-driven differentiated instruction takes the guess work out of helping students achieve. Assessment data is used to provide feedback and design specific instruction for students. 

NeSA Science

The Science program is built on three levels of inquiry.  All three engage students in activities that build a strong science foundation and help them develop a full understanding of the inquiry process.

1.   Directed Inquiry: Students learn process skills and follow step-by-step instruction. Teacher directs the activity.

2.   Guided Inquiry: Students take more ownership of the inquiry process. Teacher guides the activity.

3.   Full Inquiry: Students take the lead in conducting the experiment. Teacher facilitates Full Inquiry. 

As students progress through the three stages of inquiry, support from the teacher diminishes and student ownership increases.  This developmental process is crucial for students to reach the ultimate goal of conducting science investigations independently---engaging in Full Inquiry.

All lessons begin by building background with an essential question and introduction of key concepts and vocabulary with visual pictures and photographs.   Vocabulary is reinforced throughout the chapter. 

Reading strategies are targeted and students practice with nonfiction example similar to the state test.   The skill is applied using graphic organizers and the opportunity for repeated practice occurs throughout the program transferring the skill to other reading passages and situations.   Science content leveled readers are used across the curriculum to teach reading strategies in small groups while also reinforcing science concepts.   Curriculum provides material to teach targeted Nebraska State Science Standards that students are required to learn and be tested on the NeSA-Science (Nebraska State Science Assessment).   

Materials provided in activity kits allow for hands on scientific experiments in which students practice the scientific process.

Scientific Process

1.   Ask a Question - You might have a question about something you observe.

2.   State Your Hypothesis – A hypothesis is a possible answer to your question.

3.   Identify and Control Variables – Variables are things that can change. For a fair test, you choose just one variable to change.  Keep all other variables the same.

4.   Test Your Hypothesis – Make a plan to test your hypothesis.  Collect materials and tools.  Then follow your plan.

5.   Collect and Record Your Data – Keep good records of what you do and find out. Use tables and pictures to help. 

6.   Interpret your data. Organize your notes and records to make them clear.  Make diagrams, charts, or graphs to help.

7.   State Your Conclusion. Your conclusion is a decision you make based on you data. Communicate what you found out. Tell whether or not your data supported your hypothesis.

Go Further – Use what you learn. Think of new questions to test or better ways to do a test.