Nativity of Mary Curriculum Focus

Nativity of Mary Catholic School fosters academic excellence and spiritual growth in a preparatory setting where students thrive. 

All class instruction is intertwined with faith lessons, setting a rich, traditional experience for learning that nurtures your child’s success. Extra time is given to students for math and reading studies, with accelerating grouping and enrichment enhancements. Students participate in hands-on instruction in science and social social studies connected with technology for 21st century learning. Each child explores the arts through in-class art instruction, Art Adventures, music, bells, band, and theater experiences. Spanish, Library and Physical Education are also a part of each child’s educational experience. Learning at Nativity extends beyond our campus, with student enrichment cultivated through service experiences, leadership opportunities, student clubs, religious activities and athletics. 

 

As graduates, Nativity of Mary Catholic School students excel. 

Our students earn a reputation among high school admissions staff as class leaders and top academic performers. In the last two years, out students graduated from area high schools as National Merit finalists, top students of the class, musical recognition, science awards, as well as distinguished athletes.

 

Recognizing that each child learns in their own way and time, we offer academic support to help meet your child’s learning needs

Nativity of Mary students needing extra assistance in any of their classrooms studies can receive help through our Learning Resource Center, while working under the guidance of classroom teachers. They may also be supported by Nativity staff who are trained reading specialists or tutors in Orton Gillingham methodology. In addition, all Nativity students also have access to Bloomington Public Schools’ special education services.

Mathematics 

Mission Statement: Through the study and development of mathematics concepts, effective use of technology, and problem-solving strategies, Nativity of Mary Catholic School students develop strong mathematical skills to successfully identify, strategize, and solve real-world problems.
 
Philosophy: By providing students with relevant, guided discovery approaches to mathematics, students will develop

  • Confidence
  • Fluency
  • Skill to solve real-world problems.

The goal of our program is to develop students’ proficiency in math skills and technology (calculators, computers, etc.) so that they have the tools they need to successfully identify and solve real-world mathematical problems. 

Grades K-5 are taught with the enVision MATH series, which incorporates students’ everyday experiences into lessons. This is supplemented in the primary grades with the hands-on Math Their Way approach. 

The middle school curriculum includes the grade 6 program introducing pre-algebra while sharpening student’s computational and problem-solving skills. The Grade 7 curriculum concentrates on algebra skills along with geometry and Grade 8 students learn algebraic expressions plus equations and geometry and may, at the discretion of the teacher, study ninth-grade algebra.

Language Arts

Mission Statement: Through the study of Language Arts at Nativity of Mary Catholic School, students develop various literacy skills which include: reading, writing listening, technology and media. These skill enable students to communicate effectively.

Philosophy: Language Arts is the foundation of all other curricula. Through strong, differentiated instruction in Language Arts, students will develop the skills to:

  • Confidently communicate through both writing and oral presentation
  • Read and comprehend a variety of types of printed materials and media
  • Become critical and analytical listeners

The K-2 curriculum is Nationally Acclaimed – Super Kids – Reading and Writing program. The Superkids® Reading program is a literacy curriculum for Kindergarten through Second grade that teaches all aspects of reading seamlessly integrated with the language arts. Built on scientific research and proven pedagogy, it combines rigorous instruction with highly motivating materials. Students love the characters and are encouraged to read at “just their level” through leveled books. Handwriting is introduced on “Ice Cream Paper!” For more information on the national success of Super Kids, go to: https://www.superkidsreading.com/k-2-reading/research.php

In the primary grades, Super Kids is also supplemented with Orton-Gillingham, a language-based, multisensory approach that introduces elements of language.

All K-6 students also have access to a full Guided Reading set through Benchmark for Education as part of our literacy program. In addition to novel studies and Guided Reading, students in Grades 3-6 experience language arts through Houghton Mifflin and the Journeys program.

Students in Grades -8 use materials from Macmillan/McGraw-Hill. In addition, they also participate in novel studies and writing workshops. From “Taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare to “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” middle school students are engaged in reading that challenges their literacy skills and comprehension, preparing them for high school success, and helping them to debate critical issues. Middle School writing is refined through writing skills, applied in the creation of research papers, book reports, essays, speeches and other forms of creative writing and verbal expression.

Religion

Mission:  The Religion program at Nativity of Mary Catholic School provides multiple opportunities to live and grow in a personal relationship with God through a richer understanding of the faith.
 
Philosophy:  We believe that growth in our Catholic faith is a life-long journey guided by the Holy Spirit. Our religion curriculum will:

  • Help students grow in their knowledge and love of Jesus.
  • Instruct children in Catholic traditions, practices and doctrines.
  • Develop an appreciation of Sacred Scripture and familiarity with the Bible.
  • Provide the necessary tools to enable children to make difficult moral decisions, to act justly and to witness to their beliefs in word and deed.
  • Enable students to develop self-esteem and act as followers of Jesus should.
  • Enrich students’ understanding of the sacramental dimension of faith.
  • Encourage students to open to the mystery of God’s love and presence.
  • Help students express their Catholic faith through worship, praise and service.

 
Faith is woven into the daily instructional experiences of all subjects. From morning prayer to reflective time and service, students experience a rich atmosphere where their faith life is a part of every day. Faith instruction draws from nationally acclaimed textbooks by Sadlier and Pflaum, as well as Virtues and Catholic Social Teachings education.

Nativity of Mary staff help to instill a love of prayer, familiarity with the Scriptures, and an understanding of the life of Christ. In addition, students are prepared for the Sacraments and study the history and doctrine of the Catholic Church. Faith is enriched through participation in weekly Masses and Adoration, grade level monthly spiritual gatherings, and middle school spiritual retreats. Service teachers the importance of the Catholic Social Teachings with hands-on activities, projects, and students, leading the way to give back to others. 

Science

Mission: Nativity of Mary Catholic School Science Education is rooted in hands-on activities by applying critical thinking, decision-making, and problem solving skills. Students are supported by a variety of resources in order to develop a meaningful relationship between God, science, technology and responsible stewardship of the Universe.
 
Philosophy: Nativity of Mary students are encouraged to maintain their natural curiosity of the world around them through:

  • A balance of content
  • Processing skills
  • Problem solving
  • Practical application
  • Hands-on discovery
  • Logical reasoning


Through Nativity of Mary’s science program, students become increasingly astute observers and critical thinkers about the natural world around them. Students in K-5 explore the world with hands-on experiences through the National Geographic Science curriculum. In addition, the delve into C-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in our newly developed “Maker’s Space” and Technology Center. 

Nativity Middle School Science follows Minnesota State Standards with a focus on Chemistry, Earth Science, Engineering and Physical Science. Students utilize Prentice Hall textbooks, both online and in the classroom to create a rich understanding of live labs and science exploration and methodology. All 7th grade students participate in the Minnesota Science Fair. In 2016, one Nativity student received an Honorable Mention at Regional competitions and a second student continued on to the Minnesota State Level competition, winning three distinguished awards and the honor to complete at Nationals:
1. Emerging Scientist Award
2. Broadcom Nominee – this is an award/invitation to another national Science competition for the top 10% of middle school participants nationwide
3. Silver Grand Award – this was for being in the top 10% of all middle school applicants.

Social Studies

Mission: Through the study of Social Studies students are enabled to function competently as citizens of a democratic society in an interdependent world.  Based on their understanding of the past, involvement in the present, and vision of the future, students demonstrate creative problem-solving and informed decision-making as they struggle with social challenges.  Student responses reflect responsible stewardship, social justice and Catholic social teachings.
 
Philosophy: An understanding of the world around us is essential to living a full life.

  • Cultural awareness leads to greater acceptance of all peoples.
  • An understanding of the governmental process leads to more involved citizens
  • A basic understanding of economics is essential to a productive life.
  • World challenges demand knowledge and an understanding of geography around the world.
  • A sense of history is essential in understanding the past, interpreting the present and impacting the future.
  • Through a study of the social sciences students become more aware of their relationships with and responsibilities to other peoples.

In K-5 classes, using a Houghton Mifflin curriculum, students study such topics as citizenship, current events, national holidays, map skills, U.S. geography, Colonial America, American government, Native Americans and early explorers. Weekly Reader is also used as a resource in K-4 classrooms. 

Middle School grades focus on Minnesota history, ancient civilization, U.S. history from the colonial era to modern times (Prentice Hall). At all levels, multicultural study is interwoven in social studies classes (as well as other subject areas). ​

Spanish

Mission: By providing students with basic vocabulary in Spanish and cultural highlights they will develop an interest in language and an appreciation of the Hispanic culture.
 
Philosophy: The Spanish curriculum will help students:

  • Develop an interest in Spanish language
  • Teach children basic words and phrases in Spanish
  • Expand listening and speaking skills in the Spanish language
  • Develop cultural awareness
  • Explore geography of Latin America


All Nativity of Mary students in 6-8th grades study Spanish. The class is taught using the Realidades series, programs from Prentice Hall designed specifically for middle school students. Students learn basic conversation skills and build vocabulary while exploring Spanish-speaking countries and their cultures. Students practice the language through reading, writing, and speaking it including reading Spanish plays.  

Every year, eighth graders have the opportunity to practice their español on a field trip to a Twin Cities-area Mexican market and restaurant. In grade 7, students explore different cultures during a field trip to Festival of Nations.

Art & Theater

Mission Statement: Provide students with experiences that foster an appreciation for art and understanding of art standards.
 
Philosophy Statement: Art provides experiences that contribute to all areas of education.  Art nurtures individual expression, aesthetic sensitivity, and emotional release. 
 
The Nativity of Mary art standards will:
  • Provide opportunities for aesthetic, intellectual, emotional, social, and perceptual growth
  • Provide varied art materials and projects in order to foster creative development
  • Give basic instruction of skills necessary for creative use of art media
  • Offer the Art Adventure program to help students appreciate and understand art
 
All grades participate in Art Adventures, an enrichment program offered by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts through which students learn to appreciate and think critically about works from the museum’s collection.

Theater Enrichment:
Students in multiple grade levels participate in various theater experiences, from Kindergarten to Middle School. From Las Posados in Kindergarten, to the Stations of the Cross, and a fall and spring full production, Nativity of Mary students have the opportunity to explore their theatrical skills.

Music

Mission Statement: Through the study of Music at Nativity of Mary Catholic School, students develop both an appreciation and technique for reading, writing, performing and responding to music.
 
Philosophy Statement: Music provides opportunities for collaboration, movement, language, problem-solving, listening, and individual expression. We believe that musical experiences should be engaging and enjoyable. 
 
The music curriculum will develop musical literacy in four areas:

  1. Artistic foundations: Elements of music, characteristics of music from a variety of cultures and genres, singing and playing with accuracy and musical expression, music reading and notation.
  2. Artistic Process: Improvisation and composition, revision based on feedback, and singing/playing with proper technique.
  3. Performance: Sing and/or play a varied repertoire.
  4. Response/Critique: Compare and contrast the characteristics and purposes of musical works and performances.


Additional Opportunities
Students in Middle School choose band, choir or bells as their classroom music choice. In addition, extracurricular choirs perform at school events and weekend Masses. Private band instrument and piano lessons are available for a fee to families

 

 

Nativity Assessment

Nativity of Mary Catholic School believes that assessment evaluates student learning and assists professional educators in making informed decisions in curriculum, teaching methodology, and student intervention needs. Student-centered assessment motivates, encourages and inspires students’ passion for learning when used to inform and direct teaching and learning to all key stakeholders. Assessment is the act of evaluating, appraising, and/or estimating the features, qualities, performances, and needs of individuals, programs, and our school. Educational assessment at Nativity of Mary Catholic School will embrace the following principles and values:

  1. The ultimate purpose of assessment is to support and enhance student learning.
  2. Every student is a complex individual with a broad spectrum of abilities, skills, and knowledge.
  3. A focus on all key areas of student learning and development: ​Core Academics, Intellectual Ability, Spiritual Growth, Arts, Social Responsibility, Physical Fitness.
  4. A wide range of relevant performance information, formal and informal, standardized and non-standardized.
  5. The Minnesota State standards will be the evaluation tool of student progress such as grade level expectations and individual aptitudes.
  6. Assessments will be reviewed by teaching staff and interventions or curriculum adjustments created. Results will also be linked to teacher methodology and instructional improvement.
  7. Assessment data will be communicated to staff, students and parents with individualized communication and to the community in annual reports and school updates.
  8. Information on how to understand and use assessment data shall be provided regularly through ongoing professional development. 

Current assessments used at Nativity of Mary are explained here:  National Asessment List