The instructional program of Cornerstone Schools of Alabama follows the Core Knowledge Sequence as well as the Alabama Course of Study. The elementary campus uses the International Baccalaureate (IB) framework for instruction. Within the Primary Years Programme of IB, students participate in units that are transdisciplinary in nature and guided by student inquiry and action. To support instruction at the elementary campus, our teachers utilize Core Knowledge Language Arts, Units of Study for Writing, Investigations, Project Lead the Way, Core Knowledge History and Geography, and Purposeful Design. Teachers also have access to a variety of resources to support classroom intervention and progress monitoring. Students who are performing below grade level receive additional intervention services from our interventionist.
Cornerstone is committed to making sound instructional decisions based on national standards, research, best practices in education, and student achievement data. Curriculum is selected based on National Standards, the Alabama Course of Study, and the International Baccalaureate framework.
Cornerstone Schools uses a variety of assessments to monitor student growth and to inform instructional decisions. Cornerstone administers the IOWA Basic Skills Test to students in grades 3-8 at the end of the year and the Exact Pathformative assessment tool three times throughout the school year.
Cornerstone elementary teachers also use a variety of formative assessments including STAR Reading and Math, Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessments, and Assessing Math Concepts to monitor student growth year round. Students who are found to be performing below grade level receive targeted intervention with our interventionist and are monitored through our leadership team processes.
International Baccalaureate (IB)
Cornerstone Schools of Alabama became one of the first IB Primary Schools in the state of Alabama in 2012. In 2017, Cornerstone renewed its IB status at the Elementary School location. This model of instruction is organized around six themes: Who We Are, Where We are in Place and Time, How We Express Ourselves, How the World Works, How We Organize Ourselves, and Sharing the Planet. Each grade studies these six themes yearly and builds on last year’s knowledge as they progress. Reading, social studies, and science standards are embedded in these units, and the study is driven by student questioning and action.
The IB framework also relies heavily on building the types of skills that students need to be successful citizens. This “Learner Profile” guides our students to become caring, open-minded, balanced, principled, knowledgeable, reflective, courageous and encourages each individual to be a thinker, a communicator, and an inquirer.
Core Knowledge is a transdisciplinary curriculum that introduces social studies and science content through language arts instruction. For example. reading skills are taught through content rather than readers that isolate certain skills. This curriculum allows us to expose our students to world geography and history at a young age and keep the engaged in learning as they broaden their knowledge base.
The Units of Study for Writing supplements the writing portion of our Core Knowledge curriculum. Units of Study allows teachers to incorporate practice on a very specific writing strategy into students’ assignments.
This year, our school launched its very own STEM lab. Sarah Grace Featherston, our STEM Coordinator, will be teaching science, technology, and engineering in our brand new lab. Each grade level will visit the STEM lab daily for two nine-week periods to participate in hands-on, real-world problem solving using science and technology. These units include kindergarteners designing paintbrushes, third graders devising a plan to rescue a trapped tiger, fourth graders developing vehicle restraint systems, and fifth graders developing robotics skills.
As the STEM program grows, informational technology is made accessible to teachers to support classroom instruction. All teachers have been offered a Chromebook for professional use, and our classrooms are equipped with Elmos and projectors to support instruction. All teachers at the elementary campus have the ability to check out technology resources from the STEM Lab to use in the classroom as well.
In 2018, Cornerstone Schools began implementing Project Lead the Waywithin our elementary school STEM Lab for students in kindergarten to fifth grade. This curriculum empowers students to adopt a design-thinking mindset as they participate in engaging authentic problem-solving activities in the areas of computer science, engineering, and biomedical science.
Alongside our academic curriculum, Cornerstone Elementary students attend weekly chapel services and receive daily Bible instruction in the classroom.
In our weekly chapel services, Cornerstone students memorize scripture as well as learn a variety of worship songs.
Teachers follow the ACSI scope and sequence, as well as the Purposeful Design curriculum, to teach daily Bible lessons and are given the autonomy to supplement these lessons with a variety of instructional resources in order to support the spiritual development of their students.
Elementary students participate in a daily ‘specials’ rotation that includes art, music, library, Spanish, and counseling. Special area teachers’ instructional lesson plans are developed to follow the current IB Unit of Inquiry for each grade level.