Elementary School Academics: Timeless and Research-Proven
TASIS Portugal believes this to be true: In order to teach our children how to be critical thinkers, we have to teach them to think about something!
To thrive in the 21st century, you cannot be a critical thinker without knowledge. This is why TASIS Portugal embraces a research-proven and content-rich approach to learning in the elementary grades.
What does this look like in the classroom?
A content-rich approach, based on the Core Knowledge curriculum, means that we teach children to read using the classics—not comics. We have high expectations, which are reflected in the challenging content we provide. Because TASIS teachers have access to the content for their lessons, they are free to focus on teaching—providing appropriate support and guidance and ensuring their students are appropriately challenged and actively engaged.
The race to equip students with 21st century skills has often meant ignoring or eliminating basic knowledge, skills, and competencies such as phonics-based literacy, arithmetic, history, geography, and basic scientific facts taught in a coherent, coordinated, cumulative, grade-by-grade teaching-and-learning program. TASIS Portugal provides this indispensable basis for all subsequent academic progress, providing explicit content in each subject and at each grade level.
The Core Knowledge curriculum was developed by renowned educator Dr. E.D. Hirsch, Jr., professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia. Dr. Hirsch is the author of several acclaimed books on education and his curriculum is used in over 1,000 schools in the U.S. and around the globe. Core Knowledge’s positive learning outcomes are well established by research, and have been widely praised and documented in numerous studies. In fact, a Portuguese version of the curriculum has been widely credited with substantial improvements in the Portuguese national education system over the last 10 years.
Core Knowledge is a guide to content from grade to grade, designed to encourage steady academic growth and progress as children build knowledge and develop skills. Knowledge, language, and skills build cumulatively from year to year. This cumulative building of knowledge helps ensure that children enter each new grade ready to learn.
The curriculum is organized to build and deepen students’ knowledge grade by grade, as they make cross-curricular connections across subjects. For example, fifth graders studying the Renaissance can confidently build on their prior learning about ancient Greece and Rome (grades 2 and 3) and the Middle Ages (grade 4). Teachers can connect their historical studies to topics in visual arts (masterworks by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and others) and in language arts (from Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" to Cervantes’s "Don Quixote").
TASIS Portugal’s content-rich curriculum, inspired by Core Knowledge, is enriched by adherence to Singapore Math and Next Generation Science Standards. This curriculum was thoughtfully developed to ensure students are well prepared for academically rigorous upper school curricula such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the American Advanced Placement (AP) program. In keeping with the TASIS tradition, our school prepares students for entrance into selective universities worldwide and in Portugal.
At TASIS Portgual, our mathematics curriculum is based on the philosophy that students need to build solid numeracy skills and an understanding of number concepts. Students learn the “why” and “how” behind mathematical concepts through exploration, instruction, hands-on activities, and problem solving. TASIS Portugal subscribes to the Singapore Math method, an approach which has produced the best international achievement scores over the past three decades. Mathematics skills are reinforced and applied in other subject areas; particularly in science, music, and coding.
More about Singapore Math: Singapore students consistently rank at the top in the two most recognized international assessments, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Many educators attribute this to the methods of instruction and curriculum employed by the Singapore Math approach. The intentional progression of concepts in the Singapore Math approach instills a deep understanding of mathematics—students learn to think mathematically, rather than rely on rote memorization.
Next Generation Science
A high-quality science education means that students will develop an in-depth understanding of content and develop key skills—communication, collaboration, inquiry, problem solving, and flexibility—that will serve them throughout their educational and professional lives. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), around which our science curriculum is aligned, set expectations for what students should know and be able to do.
There are three integrated strands in NGSS—Crosscutting Concepts, Science and Engineering Practices, and Disciplinary Core Ideas:
- Crosscutting Concepts help students explore connections across the four domains of science, including physical science, life science, earth and space science, and engineering design. This enables them to develop a coherent, science-based view of the world around them.
- Science and Engineering Practices describe what scientists do to investigate the natural world, and what engineers do to design and build systems. Students learn what is meant by “inquiry” and the range of cognitive, social, and physical practices that it requires.
- Disciplinary Core Ideas are the key ideas that have broad importance within or across multiple science or engineering disciplines. These core ideas build on each other as students progress through grade levels.