Language Arts: STA students learn reading skills and teachers enrich this curriculum with novels, creative book reports and Reading Clubs. Younger students learn phonics and the Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory approach fortifies the entire language arts program.
Creative writing: Instruction in creative writing is a particular strength at STA. All teachers are trained in the “Six Plus One Writing Traits” model, which allows a seamless curriculum with universal expectations and assessment. All STA students are well above grade level in writing.
Mathematics: STA uses the McGraw Hill series for the students and has real life applications of math concepts. Students in all grades use math manipulatives to move from the concrete to the abstract concept. Teachers use differentiated instruction throughout all grade levels. Junior high students are offered Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry.
Testing for math groups takes place in the fifth grade. Math teachers may recommend that students move into a different group at the end of any grading period in order to provide the most suitable instruction for each child. Teachers will confer with parents about changes in math groups.
Science: STA makes science instruction fun for students in grades K through 8. Students learn all of the disciplines – physical, earth and biological science – through hands-on experiments and real life application.
Grades K-5: Science instruction in grades K – 5 is a collaborative effort between the homeroom teachers and science lab instructors. Topics in each grade are based on the 2010 Indiana science standards and cover life science, physical science, earth/space science, and technology/engineering. All students use a notebook or science journal with inquiry activities. Students in grades 1 through 4 come into the Science lab once a week; 5th grade students come to lab twice a week. Community resources (including the prairie at Butler University, the Indiana State Museum, the Children’s Museum, Holliday Park, IUPUI’s “Discovering the Science of the Environment” program, Marian University Eco-lab, and the creek at Marott Park) provide out of the classroom experiences.
Science instruction in Kindergarten is integrated with language arts, music, art and math and has a focus on the natural world. Topics in first grade include plants, senses, solids and liquids, magnets, animals, the needs of living things, and soil. Second grade learns about the sun, weather, dinosaurs, force and motion, matter, life cycles, and habitats. Third grade studies water, rocks and minerals, light and sound, simple machines, birds, plants, and animal interactions. Fourth grade topics include weather, slow and fast changes in the earth (weathering, erosion, volcanoes, earthquakes), natural resources, heat and electricity, animal adaptations and survival, simple genetics, and transportation systems. Fifth grade learns about plants, properties of matter, beginning chemistry, the solar system, sound and light, body systems, and studies a river habitat.
Grades 6-8: Students use interactive textbooks as well as an interactive online component to the text with Benchmark online testing. Laboratory work is an integral part of the program at each grade level. Students keep a lab notebook following the Scientific Method of Inquiry. Cooperative group work is emphasized along with individual work. Group and individual projects are given throughout the year. Other resources are used such as web based research, simulations, and activities, videos and DVD’s, guest speakers, and fieldtrips.
Special Projects and Programs:
7th Grade Science Fair
7th and 8th Grade Dissection Experiences
8th Grade Engineering Challenge
Social Studies: The STA Social Studies curriculum focuses on good citizenship, world history, geography and other cultures. Special emphasis is put on United States history in the junior high.
7th Grade Social Studies Program: Seventh grade uses a textbook series from Prentice Hall called World Explorer. We study Africa, Asia, and Oceania (Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific). In addition to the text, other resources such as movies, speakers, fieldtrips, projects, Internet based research and simulations are used. Students participate in a country project fair for the school in May.
8th Grade American History Program Grade: Eighth grade uses a textbook series from Prentice Hall called The American Nation: Beginnings Through 1877. We begin our study with the First Americans and end with Reconstruction after the Civil War. Students will study our Constitution, government and the election process to prepare them in their roll as a citizen of the United States. In addition to the text, other resources such as movies, speakers, field trips, projects and the Internet will be incorporated. They participate in Project American Life at Camp Tecumseh in November, and will prepare for an online simulation called Finance Park. The curriculum teaches students basic economics and skills for managing money. This program was developed by Junior Achievement. Students will go on a class trip in April to Washington, D.C.!
Religion: All St. Thomas Aquinas students (including non-Parishioners & non-Catholics) receive regular instruction in religion and attend Mass weekly and on Holy Days. Each grade has several opportunities each year to assist in planning the Mass, and teachers encourage each child to participate. Please check a School Scoops schedule for the specific Masses for each grade. Instruction prior to receiving the sacraments of First Communion and Reconciliation is not part of the school instruction because many Parish children do not attend St. Thomas School. Instead, sacrament instruction is the responsibility of the parents with the support of the Parish Religious Education Coordinator.
STA maintains an emphasis on kindness, compassion and other Gospel values. Prayer and religious instruction is a daily activity at STA and Junior High students are required to perform service to others, while all students participate in a variety of programs to give back to the community. Our religion curriculum standards are provided by the Office of Catholic Education for each grade.
Differentiated Learning Program (DLP): St. Thomas employs learning specialists whose expertise includes providing instruction for learners who have accelerated academic talents, learning differences, academic challenges and emotional needs. The learning specialists also serve as advisors to the classroom teachers and the parents.