Skip Navigation

Lower School (Grades K-4)

Lower School

Teaching Philosophy
I believe in nurturing curiosity, helping children build social skills, and building a strong foundation for future academic success. I believe every student is unique and deserves individualized attention. I believe in providing a supportive and inclusive environment where children feel valued. I hope to create lasting memories of adventure and exploration from kindergarten.

Language Arts
Kindergarten Language Arts is about setting a strong foundation to allow students to achieve reading and writing success in later years. This will be accomplished by studying the alphabet, phonemic awareness, phonics, concepts of print, high-frequency sight words, comprehension strategies, and standard writing mechanics.

We accomplish the following goals throughout the year:
•    Learning how to properly form letters of the alphabet in our D’Nealian writing style (pre-cursive).
•    Understanding that each consonant and vowel makes its own unique sound.
•    Learning strategies on how to break down and read CVC and CVCC words.
•    Understanding how to read and write a sentence from left to right.
•    Memorize and read at least 60 sight words.
•    Develop an understanding of story elements and how to create and write our own stories.
•    Write two sentences with proper writing mechanics (capitalization rules, proper punctuation, and finger spacing).

Kindergarten Mathematics is about setting a solid foundation in mathematical skills and thinking for the years to come. Students will use manipulatives and prior knowledge of the world around them to create this foundation. An introduction to problem-solving and critical thinking will also be a huge part of their development. Students will be exposed to the basics of various math topics including number sense, arithmetic, geometry, and measurement.

We accomplish the following goals throughout the year:
•    Learning how to read, write, and count numbers to 30.
•    Learning to count to 100.
•    Learning how to skip count by 5s and 10s to 100
•    Learning addition and subtraction problems within 20.
•    Learning the names of 3D figures and shapes, and how to manipulate them.
•    Learning how to use a bar graph and pictograph.
•    Learning how to properly use a ruler to measure to the nearest ½ inch.

Kindergarten Science is an introduction to scientific thinking and skills. We emphasize the importance of learning how to be a scientist and the scientific method. Each student gains an understanding of how the world works around them through hands-on experimentation and diving into project-based learning. Students discover more about their bodies, weather, the Earth and its landforms, how plants grow, planets and outer space, animals and their habitats, and building simple machines.

We accomplish the following goals throughout the year:
•    Learning why weather happens and the water cycle.
•    Learning about various landforms on Earth and how they are created.
•    Learning the names of each planet and their characteristics, and how everything in our solar system revolves around the sun.
•    Learning about the parts of a plant and why things grow.
•    Learning about the habitats of animals and their adaptations.
•    Learning about simple machine mechanics and forces (push and pull).

Social Studies
Kindergarten Social Studies is an introduction to the community, country, and world around them. Students explore topics ranging from themselves and move all the way out to the continents of the world. Students will gain a deeper understanding of what is around them and become more aware of their surroundings outside themselves.

We accomplish the following goals throughout the year:
•    Learning about the unique differences in each of us as individuals.
•    Learning about different kinds of families.
•    Exploring all of our holiday traditions.
•    Learning about what it means to be in the community and who community helpers are.
•    Exploring our city of San Francisco and its important landmarks.
•    Learning the geography of California and our important state symbols.
•    Learning important United States symbols and the geography of the U.S.
•    Learning about each of the seven continents and about the children that live there.

Kindergarten Civility is an introduction to (or the continuation of) social-emotional skills. Students will explore tools to use in conflict resolution and self-regulation to foster more collaboration, successful teamwork, and self-love. Students will gain a deeper understanding of who they are, what they are feeling and why, and compassion for themselves and others.

We accomplish the following goals throughout the year:
•    Learning about the various emotions and why we feel them.
•    Learning how to manage our own behaviors and feelings.
•    Understanding that we are always learning and growing and that it is okay not to know something right away.
•    Learning how to establish and maintain healthy relationships with ourselves and with others.
•    Understanding that our actions affect the people around us and how those actions might make them feel.
•    Practicing kindness.
•    Showing respect and gratitude to ourselves, other people, and our things.
•    Learning how to be responsible for our things and our actions.
•    Learning and using tools to help with self-management and conflict resolution.


Teaching Philosophy
At Adda Clevenger, we believe that education should focus on the whole child, and that learning is an active, rather than passive process. I believe that students learn by doing, and by taking responsibility for their learning. I am a firm believer that effective learning results from communication, creativity, and reflection. As a teacher, I strive to make every student an effective learner and an active participant in the education process.

I believe that all students have the ability to learn. It is my job to facilitate this learning by engaging students and motivating them to learn by making content accessible, differentiated, and age-appropriate. I plan to actively engage students by incorporating a variety of strategies such as kinesthetic, hands-on activities, as well as independent and cooperative learning projects. While the curriculum references common core and state standards, I thoroughly enjoy the freedom I have as an educator at Adda Clevenger School to create my own lessons based on the interests, inquiries, and learning needs of my students.

I respect and acknowledge diversity and individual differences in my classroom. Students learn at different rates and in different ways. Because of this, I strive to present material using multiple modalities and provide differentiation and scaffolds as needed in order to meet the learning and developmental needs of all my students. I believe that it is very important to have high expectations for each of my students to maintain and promote high self-efficacy and a sense of pride in one’s academic accomplishments.


First Grade students at Adda Clevenger build on a solid foundation of math concepts covered in Kindergarten. Our program teaches math in a sequence, using age and grade appropriate math activities to progressively build understanding, skills, and confidence. Through these activities we develop conceptual understanding beyond the rote learning of arithmetic skills. In First Grade, students will cover all the objectives for First Grade and move on to touch on the Grade Two learning objectives. Math objectives include increasing number sense and comparing numbers up to 100, understanding the concept of place value, adding and subtracting one-and-two-digit numbers, analyzing geometric shapes, measuring objects in basic units, using graphs to represent data, telling time, and understanding the value of money. Activities and learning strategies will move from concrete, to representational, to abstract to promote conceptual understanding of math topics and problem-solving skills. A large emphasis will be placed on memorization of addition and subtraction facts within 20.

Language Arts

Phonics, comprehension, high frequency words, vocabulary, spelling, grammar and writing are included in the 1st Grade ELA curriculum. Students will also respond to a wide variety of significant works of children’s literature throughout the school year. 
● Phonics/Spelling
Students will participate in weekly phonics and spelling lessons with spelling words based on the phonic skills taught in the classroom. Spelling tests will be given each Friday.
● Comprehension
Weekly comprehension skills (e.g. generating and responding to essential questions, making predictions and comparing information) will be taught and reinforced throughout the week. Students will be assessed on these comprehension skills regularly.
● High-Frequency Words
New sight words will be introduced regularly. A list of sight words will be sent home for the students to practice throughout the school year.
● Fluency
Students will understand the basic features of reading. They will select letter patterns and know how to translate them into spoken language by using phonics, syllabication, and word parts. They will apply this knowledge to achieve fluent oral and silent reading. Learners are encouraged to become fluent readers who can use a constant rate for most materials they learn to read, but learn to use different speeds based on their purpose for reading. Learners will take timed reading fluency assessments throughout the year. Fluency passages may be sent home occasionally to be practiced at home as well.
● Nightly Reading
Learners are expected to read 15-20 minutes each night to help build their reading stamina and should be encouraged to read more independently as the school year progresses.
● Writing
1st Grade Writing is centered around narrative, informational, and opinion writing. Students will learn and practice the entire writing process from conventions, to planning and drafting, to revising and editing, and eventually to publication. The role of the teacher will be that of a writing professional and peer coach, guiding authors as they explore their craft at their own individual pace and skill level. Over time, authors learn to choose their own topics and to manage their own development as they work through a wide variety of writing projects in a sustained and self-directed way. Student progress will be evaluated through writing samples and published pieces, quizzes, and participation in the writing process.
● Grammar/Mechanics
Elements of grammar will be taught to develop and vary sentences, as well as apply proper capitalization and punctuation. We will focus on a specific grammar concept each week.
● Handwriting
In first grade, students review and utilize the D'Nealian style of handwriting learned in Kindergarten. By the end of the year, students will be ready to transition to cursive handwriting, which is taught in second grade.


Students will participate in various directed, guided, and independent inquiry activities and utilize higher-level thinking skills as they learn life science, physical science, and earth science concepts. The subject matter is aligned to both the Next Generation Science Standards and the California Science Standards for 1st Grade, including: using inquiry skills; how technology is incorporated into science processes; animals; plants; environments; earth’s resources; weather and seasons; concepts about space; changes in matter; and forces and energy. In addition to participating in class discussions and hands-on learning activities, students will complete various projects throughout the year.

Social Studies

Students will actively participate and apply their knowledge and skills in class discussions and mini projects while learning standard-aligned content. The curriculum integrates mathematics, science, language arts, and visual and performing arts skills. The subject matter is aligned to the California History-Social Science standards for 1st Grade, including: citizenship; geographical concepts; American symbols; holidays and heroes; how the world changes over time; cultures and traditions from around the world; and economic concepts. Students will increase their academic vocabulary as well as their knowledge of the world in which they live through interactive and collaborative learning activities and projects.


This is the time that social discussions will take place. We have class meetings on practical social issues as they arise and brainstorm ways to solve them. Students in the First Grade continue to develop individual responsibility, respect the rights, opinions, and differences of others, as well as the rules and laws by which we live. First grade Civility concepts include: identifying, expressing, and controlling feelings and emotions; strengthening problem-solving skills; self-esteem & self-efficacy; respect; citizenship; responsibility; gratitude; giving; fairness; love; kindness; trustworthiness; self-discipline; courage; perseverance; reflection; and growth mindset. 

Language Arts

By second grade, students begin to discuss their reading as it pertains to their own experience. Writing Journals are introduced and daily writing exercises improve their handwriting and ability to communicate with words. 

Goals in the different language arts areas include:

Students are introduced to new phonics skills, explore the phonics patterns, and complete activities with the words.

Students complete a year-long unit of learning cursive handwriting. By the end of the year students are able to read and write in cursive. A few letters will be introduced each week, starting with lowercase, and practiced extensively in class.

We focus on a specific grammar and mechanics concept each week. In class, students will practice using these concepts in their own writing as well as editing others’ writing.

Comprehension strategies will be taught throughout the year through stories read aloud in class and discussed as a whole-class. Follow-up activities will be completed in class to solidify these concepts. In addition to explicit strategy instruction, we will read chapter books in class together, of varied genres, and continue to use learned strategies to understand the text.

Reading Fluency
Students are regularly assessed to find their instructional reading levels. Students read in small small groups to practice phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension concepts that they need more practice with. This allows students to move along at their own pace and to really focus on their individual needs as a reader. Leveled reading books are used for this activity.

Students are exposed to many different types of writing throughout the year. We work on completing the stages of the writing process with different genres including narrative, autobiography, informational, opinion, poetry and persuasive writing. By the end of the year, students are able to write multi-paragraph pieces using all of the concepts we have learned throughout the year.


2nd grade math students at Adda Clevenger build on a solid foundation of math concepts covered in kindergarten and first grade. Our program teaches math in a sequence, using age and grade appropriate math activities to progressively build understanding, skills, and confidence. Through these activities we develop conceptual understanding beyond the rote learning of arithmetic skills. 

In second grade, students will cover all the objectives for second grade and move on to touch on the Grade Three learning objectives.

  • - Create, read, and answer questions related to pictographs, bar graphs, line graphs, and tally marks. A review of addition and subtraction math facts will be built into this. Students will explore word problems and problem solving.
    - Place value to 1 million in standard form and word form. Comparing and manipulating these numbers.
    - Time to the minute, elapsed time, calendar, and practical application of time.
    - A review of 1st grade multi-digit addition working up to 4-digit addition with regrouping. There will also be a strong emphasis on word problems.
    - Add coin and paper values, making change, word problems, and practical application of money.
    - A review of 1st grade multi-digit subtraction working up to 4-digit subtraction with regrouping. There will also be a strong emphasis on word problems.
    - Learn the concept of multiplication, then moving into the memorization of facts through 12 and application to word problems. Beginning to multiply multi-digit numbers.
    - Learn the concept of division, in relation to multiplication. Application to word problems and beginning to memorize facts.
    - Solid figures, line segments, angles, symmetry, perimeter, area, volume, coordinates. 
  • - Writing fractions, equivalent fractions, comparing, ordering and estimating fractions, mixed numbers.
    - Length (inches, feet, yards, miles, centimeters), capacity (cup, pint, quart, gallon, liter), weight (ounces, grams, pounds), temperature (Fahrenheit, Celsius), word problems and practical use of all measurement types.
  • Throughout the year, our students learn to make decisions about how to approach a problem, check results, explain their reasons, and justify what they did. They will use strategies, skills and concepts in finding solutions and express solutions clearly using the appropriate mathematical notation. The objective of our program are met in a warm, small group environment that encourages students to develop their critical thinking skills.

Social Studies

Now and Long Ago:
-Students learn about how different groups have migrated throughout history.
-Students research their own ancestry and create a presentation for their peers comparing life now to long ago.

Imagination Nation:
-Students are able to identify the essential map elements and locate and identify countries, oceans, Great Lakes, major rivers, and mountain ranges. Students will learn about urban, suburban, and rural communities.
-Students learn about the ways in which groups and nations interact with one another to try to resolve problems in such areas as trade, cultural contacts, treaties, diplomacy, and military force.

Heroes of the Past:
-Students learn about how laws are made at the local and country level as well as learn about the judicial system and what happens when laws are broken.
-Students research historical figures and study their historical impact 

Invention Convention:
-Students explore the role and relations of buyers and consumers and supply and demand.
-Students create their own invention and investigate how to sell their “product/service” in an imaginary economy.


Land Changes:
- Matter has 3 forms: solid, liquid, gas. How do we get from one state to the other and what are molecules doing at each state.
- Students create structures to withstand and/or prevent fast and slow land changes.

Biome in a Bottle:

- Life cycles of different animals and plants
- Traits of plants and animals that are genetic and forces that influence a plant or animals characteristics
- Students research and create a biome in a bottle emphasizing the diversity of living things

Plants and Pollinators:
- Rock, water, plants, and soil provide many resources, including food, fuel, and building materials, that humans use. The sun provides energy in the form of light.
- Students become experts on different pollinators, and the process of pollination. Students will grow plants, and create projects detailing all they learn. 

Save our Oceans:
- Understanding why we recycle, how we can create a lesser impact in our daily lives, and the importance of trees.
- Students learn about the threats to our oceans and ocean animals. They gain information in how they can help with this environmental problem.


  • This is the time that social discussions will take place. We have class meetings on practical social issues as they arise and brainstorm ways to solve them. We also complete mini-lessons on civility topics being discussed as a whole school. Students in the second grade understand that being a good citizen begins at home and involves acting in certain ways. They also learn about the purpose and importance of rules and laws in the family, classroom, school, community, state and nation. We delve into the attributes of a good citizen through examples of honesty, courage, determination, individual responsibility, and consequences.

Third-graders move beyond learning to read and read to learn, to develop a deeper understanding, and for their pure love of reading. Third-graders engage in class discussions to gain insight from their peers, and to share their own ideas in all subject areas. They discuss class novels by referencing textual evidence, and providing their own schema to draw conclusions about characters and the novel’s plot. Students learn how to use a more formalized writing process of graphic organizers, drafts, edits, peer conference, and finalizing. Third-graders are empowered to communicate their opinions, and their knowledge through their organized, and thoughtful writing. In third grade, students build confidence to understand it is okay to make mistakes, and gain a sense of empathy towards others. Throughout the year, they become critical thinkers + problem solvers in all subject matters, they improve in their ability to explain their thinking to others, they dive deeper into the material at hand, and gain a sense of pride in their work.

Social Studies
In social studies, third-graders focus on four major disciplines: History, Civics, Geography and Economics. Our major social studies units are Native Americans, democracy/citizenship, economics, mapping skills, characteristics of different regions, and changemakers of the past. Each social studies unit is also connected to a writing assignment that involves either an opinion or informational piece on the topic. Students' major projects include creating a civilization in groups, and writing a story based on their civilization, Native American informational writing pieces on a specific tribe, a new business project with small groups incorporating economics, and a biography report on a changemaker. 

In science, third-graders cover multiple topics in physical science, life science, and earth science. The main science units that students dive into in third grade are weather + climate, force + motion, life cycles + inherited traits, and environment, survival + fossils. Science requires a lot of group work and hands-on experiments. The major projects include creating a compound machine, building a model of a hurricane safe house, and determining solutions to help aid in the survival of endangered animals. 

Third-graders are exposed to a variety of different genres (realistic fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, biography, poetry) as a class. They learn about the elements of each of these genres.  In addition, students engage in reading strategies such as making inferences, using text evidence, identifying theme, and summarizing. They also analyze the characters in the whole class novels and focus on the story elements throughout the text. Third-graders continue to grow their love of reading by utilizing their classroom library, continually being exposed to class read-alouds, and learning about different authors.

Third-graders use their reading/writing composition books daily for reading response questions and writing assignments. Students begin writing assignments with the use of a graphic organizer to brainstorm and outline details about their topic. For each writing assignment, students work through the writing process by conferencing with the teacher and peer editing. They complete all of their finalized writing pieces in cursive handwriting. Writing assignments include personal narratives, multi-paragraph essays, imaginative, poetry, informative, opinion/ persuasive, science fiction, and biography reports.  Lastly, students continue to improve their grammar skills with a focus on regular and irregular plural nouns, abstract nouns, use of quotation marks, compound and complex sentences, verb tenses and use of commas.

Spelling/ Vocabulary
Third-graders have new spelling words weekly and they receive homework to help them practice their spelling words at home. In addition to spelling, students have new vocabulary words weekly. Vocabulary Units include: communication, sight, movement, living things, work and money, time, language and writing, measurement, and the law.

In math, students use the Eureka math curriculum along with a variety of other supplemental resources. Students begin third grade working with multiplication and division. They complete multi-step word problems with the use of all 4 operations. Third-graders shift their focus to fractions, specifically comparing fractions, and customary linear measurement. Next, students  work on measurement of weight, capacity and temperature. Following that, they review collecting and analyzing data by reading graphs and making graphs. Lastly, students work on geometry and measurement word problems. Throughout the year, students continue to review and practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Third-graders solve multi-step word problems, master math facts, and explain their strategies/thinking to each other.

During Civility time, students discuss social-emotional topics with a big focus on having a growth mindset. Students typically read a story as a class to model the theme of the week such as respect, perseverance, or self-discipline. Then, students discuss possible solutions in different scenarios that are likely to occur. This is a time for third-graders to work together, solve problems, and understand what it means to be a positive classmate and a role model. In addition, students focus on their goals and how to achieve their goals, they reflect on what they are grateful for in their life and they acknowledge their own + others accomplishments.

In fourth grade, students prepare for upper school by establishing a greater sense of responsibility. The content pushes them to think, analyze, critique, and learn in a more sophisticated and structured way. They are taught to think deeply about and make connections in what they read, write with clarity, flow, and structure similar to that of traditional essays; and learn more complex concepts across all subject areas. In addition, fourth graders are encouraged to be more independent in their learning, depending less on the teacher’s guidance and researching, planning, and revising their work more by themselves. Classes are much more student-led and students engage in hands-on activities solving problems with multiple answers. Students rely on logic, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills across the curriculum and take risks to grow and stretch their brains. Welcome to a wonderful year full of discovery, a love of learning, and a passion for knowledge.

English Language Arts – Writing
Fourth grade students participate in a variety of writing activities that help them work on the structure and format, the approach, and the conventions necessary to master the following types of writing:
• Persuasive
• Biography
• Informational
• Creative Fiction
Fourth graders also study parts of speech, sentence structure, and adding to sentences to make them more detailed. Students focus on building their vocabulary and employing figurative language in order to improve their writing.

English Language Arts – Literature Circle
Students in fourth grade read assigned sections of novels over a period of weeks, gathering in small groups weekly to discuss their analyses of plot and character development along with author intent and literary devices. This also hones their speaking and listening skills as well as their small group collaboration abilities. Students begin learning the art of annotating the text in order to track their thinking and easily locate text evidence throughout the novels.

In History, students develop an understanding of physical and human geographical features that define places and regions in the United States, and more specifically, California. They learn to describe the social, political, cultural, and economic life and interactions among people of California in the pre-Columbian societies, the Spanish missions, and the Mexican rancho period. Fourth graders also study the economic, social, and political life in California from the establishment of the Bear Flag Republic through the Mexican-American War, the Gold Rush, and the granting of statehood. Furthermore, they learn how California became an agricultural and industrial power, tracing the transformation of the California economy and its political and cultural development since the 1850s. In order to better relate to history, the students conduct a number of case studies of interesting figures in California history.

In Math, students begin the year mastering their basic math facts and improving their mental math abilities. Students build on that knowledge in order to develop an understanding and fluency with multi-digit multiplication, and dividing to find quotients involving multi-digit dividends. They also explore fraction equivalence, addition and subtraction of fractions with like denominators, and multiplication of fractions by whole numbers. They gain the ability to compare fractions with unlike denominators using a variety of strategies. They relate this to decimals and percentages through realistic applications such as handling money, surveying for data, and constructing infographics.  Students also investigate geometric figures and learn to analyze and classify them based on their properties, such as having parallel sides, perpendicular sides, particular angle measures, and symmetry. Throughout the year, students engage in problem-solving and real-world mathematical applications using word problems. They advance their critical thinking skills and determine multiple ways to solve problems. Students grow their number sense throughout fourth grade and, therefore, are able to approach rigorous problems with the necessary tools to evaluate and solve them.

In Science, fourth grade students study the scientific method as well as the engineering and design process. They learn to ask meaningful questions and conduct careful investigations. They formulate and justify predictions based on cause and effect relationships, and draw conclusions about the relationships between predictions and results. They also construct and interpret graphs from measurements, and communicate results. In Life Science, students explore biology through the examination of cats and dogs, looking at a range of topics including anatomy, genetics and origins of species, natural versus artificial selection, and the processes of domestication. In Earth Science, students explore a range of geological topics. They apply knowledge of the Earth’s structure to understand the slow and rapid changes that take place and change the earth over time, including plate tectonics, volcanism, and earthquakes. They learn how the rock cycle works and identify the properties of rocks and minerals. In Physical Science, students explore how electricity and magnetism affect matter. They design and conduct experiments with a range of magnetic materials. They learn how to design and build simple series and parallel circuits by using components such as wires, batteries, and bulbs. Students understand that electrical energy can be converted to heat, light, and motion. Students learn to embrace challenges. They are encouraged to be curious, inquisitive, outside-the-box thinkers who strive to find answers through investigation and exploration!

During Cvility, students discuss social-emotional topics and develop strategies for dealing with different situations. Each class addresses a specific theme and we use mentor texts to expose this theme and kickstart our conversation around the topic. This class helps students practice the core values necessary to being a polite, courteous, and respectful member of our classroom community and of society in general. Students learn how to properly work together, express their feelings, solve problems, and address conflict. Students also develop a growth mindset. In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.