The Pre-K-3 Academic program in the Bangor School Department has its foundation in the development and acceleration of early literacy skills in all students. For more than a 15 years, the Bangor School system has been a nationally recognized leader in literacy instruction and assessment. Believing that a good school start is paramount to long-term success, and dealing with the realities of diverse student needs, a program was developed based on leveled assessment and instruction.
Teachers and administrators set high expectations and accelerate achievement. They share an intensive and uncompromising drive to help every child succeed. Parents become full partners in the literacy experience through home support. Unambiguous and targeted achievement reports are provided to parents as they work with teachers to ensure that their child meets expected reading levels. Certain instructional interventions focus sharply on the at-risk reader’s progress, most notably Reading Recovery and its “homegrown cousins” Kindergarten and grade one Literacy Groups. Bangor educators have developed and adopted a comprehensive assessment program to monitor student reading performance at grades one, two and three.
This instructional tool allows for diagnostic evaluation of student reading, giving teachers and parents vital information for informing instructional practice and for guiding support. With well-defined grade level standards in place, teachers are able to evaluate where students are in relation to the expected performance, and adjust their instruction in order to bring students to that standard. Additionally, with a strong belief in the acceleration of learning, those students who are at or above grade level are provided with the program they need to reach even higher levels of achievement.
Mathematics instruction follows a carefully-designed scope and sequence initiated with the 2004 adoption of the updated Addison-Wesley Scott Foresman series, which continues through grade 5. Implemented with a backward-planning design and in alignment with state and national math standards, the series employs a “spiral concept” design which reinforces previously-learned concepts in each new lesson, thus accomplishing introduction and ongoing review simultaneously. In addition to frequent homework and chapter and unit tests, the schools utilize the Grade 3 “Must Knows” test to assess student learning.
Science & Social Studies
Science and Social Studies instruction culminates with four inquiry-based units developed by Bangor School Department teachers. In their study of the Human Body (Biology), Earth Materials (Geology), Sound (Physics), and the long-standing Downeast to Bangor Unit (Social Studies) grade 3 students experience instruction based on Essential Questions and Enduring Understandings– an effective technique for developing understanding of content and process. Instructional experiences leading up to grade 3 are predominantly hands-on, integrated activities that emphasize observation and manipulation skills and developing in students a habit of inquiry. Foundational social studies skills of basic geography and map skills are also instructed.
Second Grade Science Global Awareness Academic Extension
Symbolic Butterflies Build Bridges of Communication and Friendship
Second graders at Fruit St. School have been conducting a Monarch Migration Project for several years. The project began simply with an opportunity to witness an insect life cycle in a few weeks and has grown to an entire year revolving around the Monarch Butterfly life cycle, migration, its’ impact on our continent, and how children can make a difference in our world. The project has broad reaching educational opportunities. The monarch migration project serves to teach children about insect life cycles, show the dependence on natural and man-made factors for their survival, lays groundwork for the interconnectedness of our planet with plants, animals, environment and human intervention, and develops an ambassador-type friendship with many Mexican school children through our participation in Journey North’s Symbolic Migration opportunity.
Beginning early in September, the class raises purchased larva and native larva gathered from local fields. Students feed, clean, and monitor their larva by taking daily measurements of the larva and eaten milkweed leaves. They record all observations in a journal. When the monarchs have completed their cycle, emerging from the chrysalis, the class orchestrates a large release. Many butterflies are tagged through kits purchased at monarchwatch.org, and the children are able to track their migration on-line in the classroom. This provides a plethora of data to be sorted, understood, and manipulated by the students, touching on topics of pollination, plants, insects, animals, geography and math.
This project reaches beyond Bangor, Maine or the United States, by reaching out to Mexico and teaching about ambassadorship as the Monarch migration helps support many poor Mexican villages with an influx of tourists hoping to view this migration phenomenon. It provides a real life purpose for teaching American children about the Spanish culture and language.
The students at Fruit St. joined the international community of friends by participating in Journey North’s Symbolic Migration Project. Monarchs connect people across North America as they migrate across international borders. Symbolic paper butterflies serve as ambassadors to represent our shared interests and common conservation goals. The class sends a large paper butterfly along with many small butterflies with messages for the Mexican school children. Those children care for the paper butterflies all winter and send them back to the United States in the spring. In May, Fruit St. will receive a cluster of butterflies and a class butterfly with messages from the Mexican students. We will plot their origination and enter their final destination on maps provided by Journey North. In past years, we have received butterflies from as far away as California.