Specialized Teaching Materials
“Quand apprendre, c’est être l’acteur conscient de son apprentissage”
Cuisenaire rods and words in color are among the different pedagogical materials used in class. They illustrate the importance given to « the subordination of teaching to learning »* and to activity based programs.
Simple problem solving stimulates children to observe, manipulate, explore, hypothesize, build and conclude through trial and error.
Important mathematical notions are compiled so as to create the foundation for new learning.
Used by the entire student body (Nursery-5thgrade) at Ecole Aujourd’hui, Cuisenaire rods contribute to the development of students’ mathematical thinking through the exploration of clear and tangible problems.
Words in Color
The underlying theory to the creation of this material is that learning occurs when acts of awareness are self-generated as opposed to learning through passive impregnation or imitation. The purpose of this material is to emphasize the exploration of language and an understanding of its functions.
The relationship between the written and spoken word is rendered tangible through the use of color and allows the student to focus on the phonemes. Each color corresponds to a particular phoneme and its different graphemes.
Each student progresses individually at his/her own pace. The student enriches his/her reading/writing by the physical act of pointing to the different colors and graphemes; thus integrating the particularities of spelling and conjugation so essential to the French language.
- to use his/her mental capacities and previously acquired knowledge.
- to be aware of the work that needs to be undertaken.
- to be in a position of creativity and responsibility.
- to construct his/her own criteria and learning strategies.
- to manipulate language in a quick and simple manner.
- to explore the relationship between the oral and written language
- to ask questions regarding language
- to be constantly encouraged by relevant activities and realistic challenges.
English as a foreign language has been taught at l’école Aujourd’hui since its opening in 1975. Learning another language exposes the student to an alternative way of thinking. It encourages children to be globally aware.
Early and continual foreign language learning provide children with a useful tool for later in life. The presence of bilingual classmates (roughly 25% English speaking and 10% other languages ) motivates children to find out more about different languages.
English is taught by two native speaking members of the faculty. It is integrated within the curriculum of the school. English is considered a means of communicating and sharing ideas and experiences. It is used naturally and as much as possible in every day situations.
Pre-school, Kindergarten and 1st grade – class of 10-12, lessons of 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times per week
Children discover English through TPR (Total Physical Response) and the use of objects and stories adapted to their age.
Language is constantly recycled and reinforced through a variety of meaningful activities : songs, poems, games, books, dances, videos, cooking, artwork….
The homeroom teacher and the English teacher work together in order to integrate English in the class syllabus with common themes such as the body, the town, transport, toys, food…
As the English teacher participates in the life of the class (Physical Education, choir, lunchtime supervision) English can be used in authentic situations.
English speaking students take part in the English classes with their classmates. They are encouraged to participate at an appropriate level. The use of children’s literature provides a framework for vocabulary enrichment.
2nd to 5th grade – class of 10-12, lessons of 45 minutes, 3 or 4 times per week
In 2nd and 3rd grade teaching is based on the well known course « Kid’s Box » (Cambridge University Press). This course includes a pupil’s book, an activity book and an audio CD. Children learn key language items, useful phrases and vocabulary and start to read and write in English.
The European Language portfolio is introduced enabling children to evaluate their level of language. This tool also encourages children to take an interest in other langauges they may encounter.
In 4th grade the students persue their learning of English by the means of the BBC animated film, «Muzzy in Gondoland». This course includes a DVD, audio CDs and teacher devised activities and worksheets. Children enrich their English through the story of the endearing characters and the captivating plot.
The children of 5th grade take part in a three week residential field trip to the United States. The preparation for this project allows for a reinforcement of vocabulary and skills previosuly taught within the themes of everyday life – school, family, home, food… Some aspects of American life and traditions are also covered.
The English as a Foreign Language curriculum taught at l’école Aujourd’hui is in conformity with the recommandations of the French Ministry of Education, aiming for the skill level of A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
From 2nd to 5th grades English speaking children begin a personalized syllabus of reading and writing skills adapted to their level. They work alongside the other members of their class and may also participate in special projects such as cooking, theatre and art. Each student has a personal weekly work assignement that includes reading, writing, grammar and spelling tasks. Learning tools used include: « Plaid Phonics » workbooks (Pearson), « Haydn Richards » (Ginn) and Key Spelling (Schofield and Simms).
An E.C.A. (English Classroom Assistant) is usually available to help the English speaking children once a week.
The teaching of the arts at Ecole aujourd’hui serves several objectives. Pupils can:
- develop a wide range of art and design techniques.
- learn about artists past and present.
- visit places of artistic interest.
- expand their own personal culture.
Visual art activities take place regulary within the class and occasionally with visiting artists or within a workshop session in a museum.
Music education is taught through weekly choir rehearsals.
Art activities are linked to the curriculum when possible – history, geography, literacy.
Some recent projects :
- Creating animated films.
- Drama workshops led by a parent.
- Light painting
- Land art
- Puppet making.
In all classes many interdisciplinary and interclass projects include art, drama and musical elements.
Physical education activities are crucial to the maturity of children and are an essential part of their education. The athletic activities offered at Ecole Aujourd’hui contribute to the devolopment of motor skills, self expression and setting personaml goals.
Ecole Aujourd’hui uses of the athletic facilities in the neighborhood (Huygens gymnasium, the Stanislas school pool) and our all purpose room (le préau). Track and field activities as well as team sports also take place in the Jardin Atlantique.
Field Trips and Residential Class Trips
Field trips and residential class trips are an integral part of the school’s curriculum. These trips are incorporated into each class syllabus. They are also offer excellent opportunities for approaching global awareness.
Ecole Aujourd’hui takes full advantage of the many cultural activities Paris has to offer.
- The arts: Musée en herbe, Musée Bourdelle, Forum des images, projet « Ecole et cinéma », Orsay, Beaubourg, Musée du Quai Branly…
- History : Musée de Cluny, Musée Carnavalet, Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux…
- Science: Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, Cité des Sciences, Palais de la Découverte…
Every other year the students in the pre-K class through 4th grade (MS to CM1), go on a residential field trip. Some previous trips:
- Nature and Music in the Drôme
- Ecology in Picardy
- The Middle Ages or Prehistory in the Périgord
- Nature study in the mountains of Rhone Alpes
- Marine life in Brittany
The 5th grade class travels to the US every year. The children live with an American host family for three weeks thus consolidating the years of instruction of English as a foreign language as well as discovering and learning about another culture and environment.