Colfax Academic Program
Colfax Upper Elementary is comprised of grades 4-6. The educational programs are departmentalized where students move among teachers for their required courses - Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, & Science. The building hosts a variety of special-subject teachers including a guidance counselor allows staff to plan to better meet student needs across discipline areas. In addition, at this age-level students have the opportunity to explore areas of music, including both instrumental and vocal, along with becoming part of team-related and governmental activities.
The Title I Program provides remedial support services for students who display academic deficiencies in reading. Title I teachers service students in their regularly scheduled classes or by pull-out instruction. Student participation in this program is based upon his/her classroom progress in reading. This program provides reading intervention strategies employing reading specialists and teacher aides to deliver these services. At times, students needing more intense intervention are worked with individually to remediate specific skill deficiencies outside the classroom setting. Title I is not a required program; parents have the option of having their children participate if they qualify for the program. Title I also sponsors parent information sessions.
For more information on the Title I program, please see the Federal/State Program section of the District's homepage.
The Allegheny Valley School District approved the adoption of the latest edition of the Harcourt Reading Program during the 2003-2004 school year. This Program, entitled Trophies, has become the basis of the language arts program in Kindergarten through grade 6.
Trophies is a comprehensive, research-based, developmental reading/language arts program that uses explicit phonics instruction, guided reading instruction, writing instruction, and other systematic intervention strategies to provide students with a balanced literacy approach in the area of integrated language arts. The Trophies program incorporates extensive and holistic assessment tools to ensure that every student is given the best support that can be provided to help him/her become a successful learner. At present, the reading series has become a successful tool in the language arts curriculum of the District.
Attending Colfax Upper Elementary School marks the first time when students are offered extra-curricular activities in which they can participate. Band, chorus, academic games, and student council programs enable students to further explore individual talents in music, academics, and leadership. These programs also involve students in community service projects. Band and choir groups travel to many areas of the District to provide entertainment, especially around holidays. The Student Council heads many activities in the building throughout the school year and sponsors service activities for students to give back to their community. The Academic Games program offers the students a chance to test their own academic abilities in games against students from their own school and those from schools around the area, state, and nation.
Vocal & Instrumental Music
Studying and performing music helps to promote personal student growth and enhances the quality of student lives. The elementary music program is organized into three basic experiences: music as an activity, music as a skill, and music as an art. All students can participate in musical activities, at various levels, through any or all these experiences. All students in grade 4 - 6 are required to participate in general music class. Each classroom in the school attends music once a six-day rotation. Outside of class, general music students need only to try to be more conscious of the music they experience in their daily lives and to be more aware of the musical elements of which they have learned in music class. In addition, all Colfax students have the opportunity to join their grade-level chorus. There are no auditions for any of these groups. As with any performance group, chorus students are expected to practice the music on their own and to participate in all performances.
Since students can participate at various levels, all students have the opportunity to feel successful in music class and/or chorus. An individual student's comfort level is always considered when performance-based skills are being assessed. There are some students who are ready and willing to perform in front of a group, however, students who do not feel comfortable doing so, can show their knowledge or skills in other ways such as written assignments or performing with a group. The minimum goal for students is for them to grow up and be responsible consumers of music. The ultimate goal is for students to be active adult participants of music.
In grade 4, Colfax students may choose to begin studying wind, brass, and percussion instruments. These classes are given under the direction of instrumental specialists. The students in the classes combine to form an elementary band. The goals of the instrumental program are to encourage students to expand their knowledge of music through playing an instrument and to join together to form an ensemble. Playing an instrument requires students to learn how to do a number of items at one time, for example read the notes, play the notes, watch the director, listen to the rest of the group, etc.
Students may start in the program as early as grade 4 or may begin at anytime throughout their time at Colfax Upper Elementary School. Typically the students choose the instrument of their liking. Beginning students will try their instrument of choice until the end of the second nine weeks or at the end of the school year before deciding to opt out of playing. In other words, beginning students may choose to opt out of the program ONLY at the end of the second nine weeks. If a student continues, then he/she is to finish out the rest of the school year before opting out. Students who are in their second or third year of the instrumental program are required to finish out the school year before making the decision to opt out. Students and parents will sign a commitment form at the beginning of each school year. The students meet for instruction for twenty minutes per week in small group lessons. These small groups usually consist of 3 to 6 students working together and individually in their lesson books. In addition, students meet once each week for a full band practice. It is also expected that students practice their lessons at home. The instructor recommends that grade 4 students and beginners practice 10 to 20 minutes at home each day; grade 5 students or 2nd year players practice 20 to 30 minutes at home each day; and grade 6 students or 3rd year players practice 30 minutes or more daily. Progress reports are sent home every nine weeks to indicate strengths and weaknesses.