Academics in ALA
The Advance Learning Academy (ALA) is full of rich educational opportunities where our students are challenged to reach their potential as they engage in lessons and activities that help them to become not only strong learners, but critical thinkers, problems solvers, and innovators. They learn to work and improve their personal and collaborative skills, as they become leaders in the school and community. Our students also have the opportunity to go on field trips and hear from special guest speakers throughout the year that help to deepen and extend the learning of the curriculum being taught in each of our classrooms.
Our 1st - 3rd grade teachers’ instruction ensures that our students have a very strong and thorough base in basic math skills. These classes use a combination of Singapore Math Practices and ST Math to add depth, rigor, and complexity into their math curriculum. It is imperative that basic whole number, decimal, and fraction skills are mastered in the younger grades so that when our students reach the upper grades, they can continue to work on deepening those skills and applying them to higher level learning and real-world applications.
Our 4th-6th grade classes continue using and building on the skills learned in the younger grades but advance into ALEKS math for practice of basic math skills. In fourth and fifth grade, students continue to work on mastering higher level math skills, so that when they enter sixth grade they can work on the Spring Board curriculum that continues on into the junior high classes. As students in the upper grades show mastery of skills, they are afforded the opportunity to participate in alternative and more challenging activities and projects to further apply the skills they have learned.
Our 1st - 3rd grade classes focus on building a strong base in reading comprehension, writing, and grammar skills. 1st and 2nd grade focus on sentence and paragraph structure, while 3rd grade begins to write opinion and expository 3-5 paragraph essays. The primary source in class for literature in the younger grades is the Reading Street Program where students are exposed to both narrative and expository texts as they learn to identify story elements and work on inferencing skills. Different classes have a monthly poem that they focus on as well as monthly projects built around their current studies.
Our 4th - 6th grade classrooms use a combination of novel studies and collections of analytical readings to further their reading comprehension skills. They begin to learn how to annotate primary and secondary source documents using Close Reading skills to better break down and analyze what they are studying. Our upper grades work on argumentative and expository/opinion writing pieces including correct citations and bibliographies.
We work hard to not only teach science through a series of lectures, but constantly incorporate all types of hands on science lessons and labs, as well as lessons and experiences that are enhanced through different types of technology mediums. As the science curriculum begins to change to the SEEd standards, the upper grade classes will also begin to incorporate more inquiry based science that allows for more cross-cutting concepts that will develop from grade to grade, and more basic engineering skills and STEM based opportunities for our students to demonstrate their learning and understanding.
Our students participate in the Science Fair each year where we have had students participate in our school and District level competitions. We have also placed within the top five schools in our 5th/6th grade District STEM League competition every year including STEM League Champions for the 2014 - 2015 year. In 2016 we earned 12 of the 30 available spots in the You Be The Chemist Competition, two of our 5th graders placing 1st and 2nd at the State level of competition, and even having one of our 5th graders advanced to the national level of competition to compete in Philadelphia as Utah’s state representative. So far in 2017, we have 18 of our students participating in the regional level of this competition and are hopeful that they will continue to work and make it to state and beyond.
In our younger grades, social studies is primarily incorporated into cross-curricular studies that are based in their language arts. They begin to formulate their understanding of where they fit into the world beginning by talking about neighborhoods and communities, extending outward as they talk about different geographical location comparisons, as well, as social circles that they take part in.
In our upper grades we begin to have more specialized studies. In fourth grade the focus is on Utah History, in fifth grade the focus is on U.S. History, and in sixth grade the focus is on World History. Within the social studies curriculum, our teachers incorporate diverse experiences and projects including STEM projects, living museums, simulations, and primary and secondary source guest speakers who focus on the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement (Loki Mullholand).
We also participate in the History Fair each year where we have had students place at the district and state levels and even advance to the national level. Their projects range from historical papers, websites, exhibits, and dramatic performances.
Visual and Performing Arts
Each year we have many of our students participate in the PTA Reflections competition where they create original works based on an annual theme. These projects range from written pieces, sculptures, paintings, film, and photography. Each year we have students who place at the district and state levels.
Our ALA students also participate in a performance choir. The choir focuses on singing techniques, dynamics, harmonizing, and stylization for the different genres of music we perform. We have two school concerts a year where our students perform traditional and contemporary pieces. We also participate in our District Choir Festival at the end of each school year and have been invited to participate in other community events and festivals such as The Christmas Village in downtown Ogden and the Folk Song Festival in 2016. In previous years, we have performed for the Utah State Legislature and during the Dickens Festival.
Our Enrichment Specialist, Stacy Van Hook, goes above and beyond the basic curriculum for each grade level group in our program. Our students learn basic Spanish vocabulary and grammar, and then implement these in conversational settings. This prepares them to continue learning Spanish or other languages as they transition into the junior highs.
She also works closely with all of the grade level teachers in the program to carefully craft math, science, and social studies lessons that support the curriculum being taught in their respective classrooms. These lessons take our students deeper into the content and allow them to solve problems and apply what they are learning on a deeper level, in real-world contexts that are current and relevant. Examples of these include, but are not limited to, student-engineered solar ovens, constellation studies using an inflatable planetarium, abaci, and student-engineered toothpick bridges.
The Enrichment Specialist affords students the opportunity to improve their skills in computer coding as they participate in the worldwide One Hour of Code event. Mrs. Van Hook also runs a Garden Club for our ALA students where they learn how to grow and cultivate plants. This club also doubles as a service club as they use the plants they have grown to beautify and enrich the school environment for everyone.