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Lower Merion School District


Curriculum Overview

The District is currently developing a quick reference guide for parents featuring an overview of "what your child will learn" in each grade. Information has been compiled for reading, math and foreign language programs. Other curricular areas (science, music, etc.) will be added to the guide throughout the year.

What your child will learn in...


Journeys, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is the core reading resource used to meet the diverse needs of our K-5 students.

This research-based program has been designed with a balance of shared (whole group instruction), guided (small flexible group instruction), and independent reading. All five critical strands of reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension and fluency) are integrated in the daily reading skills and strategies.

All lessons utilize the most effective instructional approaches that current research has identified and current standards require. It has a rich collection of award-winning thoughtfully selected literary genres which include fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and information writing in a magazine format to engage students.

There is a systematic and ongoing assessment system to inform teachers of the strengths and needs of their students. The technology component supports instruction in the classroom and provides opportunities for students to log on and read from home as well.


The District utilizes the Investigations math program as the core resource in grades K-5 to support the District math curriculum. Information regarding the program can be found on the Investigations website or the District elementary math e-board which also includes information about each unit and ways to support your child at home.

Investigations in Number, Data, and Space is a complete mathematics program, designed to embody the vision of the rigorous national standards for mathematics developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). It was developed in part with the National Science Foundation and TERC (Technical Education Research Center). Investigations was carefully designed around key ideas to invite all K-5 students into mathematics, and was extensively field-tested in a wide variety of classrooms. An extensive body of research on how students learn mathematics informed the curriculum's development. Researchers in several content areas collaborated directly with the development of the curriculum. These included: Douglas Clements and Michael Battista (geometry); Susan Jo Russell, Jan Mokros, Cliff Konold, and Andee Rubin (data); Ricardo Nemirovsky, Cornelia Tierney, and Tracy Noble (mathematics of change). In addition, the developers drew on the large body of educational research carried out over the past 20 years on students' understanding of numbers and operations.

The goal of Investigations is to develop computational fluency by which a student can develop a deep understanding of math and demonstrate flexibility in the methods they employ. Further, they are asked to explain their methods and produce accurate answers. Typically the number of problems presented are fewer than that of traditional instruction to give students more time to reason, build and test theories, try multiple solutions, and make connections. Presentation of their outcomes is done both orally and in writing giving students the chance to organize their thinking and open a dialogue with their teacher and peers. Additional information can be found on their website:

Investigations was chosen as the core resource (by teachers and administrators) to support the Lower Merion School District math curriculum in 2009 and meets and often exceeds the Pennsylvania State Standards. In addition, Investigations is a coherent and focused K-5 mathematics program that implements the philosophy and content described by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The thoughtful implementation of the program began in 2009 with only two modules (Measurement and Geometry) being implemented in grades K-5. In 2010, K-2 implemented the program fully with grades 3 to 5 adding the data module to the existing two modules. In 2011, grades 3 to 5 implemented the program in its entirety with the addition of the number units.

Elementary Math FAQ


The district utilizes the FOSS (Full Option Science System) Science program in grades 1 to 5 to develop and deepen students’ understanding of concepts related to Life Science, Earth and Space Science and Physical Science. Two kits will be implemented in the 2012-13 school year with the third kit being added during the 2013-14 school year. FOSS is a research-based science curriculum for grades K–8 developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at Berkeley. FOSS is also an ongoing research project dedicated to improving the learning and teaching of science. The FOSS project began over 20 years ago during a time of growing concern that our nation was not providing young students with an adequate science education. The FOSS program materials are designed to meet the challenge of providing meaningful science education for all students in diverse American classrooms and to prepare them for life in the 21st century. Development of the FOSS program was, and continues to be, guided by advances in the understanding of how youngsters think and learn.

Science is an active enterprise, made active by our human capacity to think. Scientific knowledge advances when scientists observe objects and events, think about how they relate to what is known, test their ideas in logical ways, and generate explanations that integrate the new information into the established order. Thus the scientific enterprise is both what we know (content) and how we come to know it (process). The best way for students to appreciate the scientific enterprise, learn important scientific concepts, and develop the ability to think critically is to actively construct ideas through their own inquiries, investigations, and analyses. The FOSS program was created to engage students in these processes as they explore the natural world.

Elementary Science FAQ

World Languages

LMSD World Language Program Overview:
World language is an essential component of the student experience in Lower Merion. The study of languages and cultures provides important preparation for living, leading, and achieving in a global community.

The World Language program focuses on communication within the cultural context of the language being studied. The LMSD World Language program seeks to help students:

  • Communicate in the target language through speaking, writing, listening, reading
  • Gain knowledge and understanding of other cultures
  • Connect with other disciplines to acquire a deeper insight into one's own language and culture
  • Participate in multilingual communities and global societies

LMSD World Language classes focus on communication-based learning. The four skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking have been repackaged into language modes. These three modes place the primary emphasis on the purpose of communication and the context in which it happens, rather than on any one skill in isolation and consist of: Interpersonal, Interpretive and Presentational. Instruction and assessment will, to the greatest extent possible, reflect real world, authentic communication in the target language and will use as many authentic materials as possible.

LMSD World Language Program Specifics:
World Language instruction begins in 1st grade and continues in an articulated sequence until graduation.

  • Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES): Students learn French or Spanish starting in first grade. Students are engaged in second language instruction for 20-30 minutes two to three times per week. In FLES, the main focus is on understanding and speaking. Visuals, manipulatives, and integration of cultural topics are a crucial part of the FLES classroom. A typical class includes songs, rhymes, games, play-acting, and other physical activities.
  • Middle School World Language: Students continue with their elementary language studies of French or Spanish in sixth grade. In 7th grade, they may change languages or they may elect to study Latin. French, Spanish and Latin Instruction occur on a daily basis in 7th and 8th grade. Students who study Middle School language for a two year sequence will have completed the equivalent of a Level 1 course at the High School. The middle school world language program is designed to provide students with a supportive learning environment focused on communication with an increased focus on reading and writing skills in the second language.
  • High School World Language: Students have the opportunity to study French, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish. French, Latin, and Spanish offer college preparatory and honors level courses through Level 5 or Advanced Placement. Students can elect to study Japanese in 11th & 12th grade (honors only.) All students use the target language to perform real world tasks, demonstrate growth in their communicative proficiency through formative and summative performance assessments, and acquire increased levels of proficiency. Teachers work to utilize the three modes of communication for instruction, assessment and grading practices.