Classroom Curriculum

Intentional and diverse

The Aurora staff collaborates on a curriculum that intentionally offers opportunities for leadership and the consideration of diverse perspectives. Our schedule is on a two year rotation so that all students in the multi-graded classrooms work together side by side to experience all content.

Our curriculum is guided by national and state standards, and a commitment to learning that’s grounded in the progressive belief that children learn best when they are actively involved and working side by side with others. That’s why hands-on, student-centered exploration is part of everything we do at Aurora. It’s also why so many of our units of study are integrated across content areas.

Aurora Curriculum is on a two year rotation

Year-Long Theme

Big questions provide the base for a year of deep exploration and discovery. The theme informs Aurora’s Social Studies units and most of our field trips and extends across subject areas.

Service Learning projects inspired by the year-long theme vary from year to year. For example, students learning about Oakland may engage in a study of the homeless epidemic and then take the lead on creating a project to help people experiencing homelessness. Other students might educate the community on water pollution after they discover for themselves how hard it is to clean polluted water as part of their study of the science of water. When they get outside the classroom and engage with the world beyond our walls, Aurora students learn to see themselves as empowered citizens who know they can step up and make a difference.

Year One
What is Family? How are families similar? How are they different?

Year Two
What are Civil Rights? What is Friendship? What are your rights? What are the rights of others? What does it mean to be an ally? What is freedom?

Year One
What is Oakland? What is Oakland’s past? What is Oakland today? What will the Oakland of the future be?

Year Two
What is Power? Who has power and who does not? How can we use our power to make a difference? How does using our power affect others?

Year One
What is California? What is California’s past? What is California today? What will be the California of the future?

Year Two
What is Civilization? What is North America’s past? What is North America today? What will be the North America of the future?


We believe that children are natural born scientists who are always inquiring, investigating, formulating, and reformulating their ideas about how the world works. With this in mind, we strive to promote and develop a sense of wonder about the world.

At Aurora, we use the FOSS (Full Option Science System) science curriculum from the Lawrence Hall of Science to provide our student scientists with hands-on, experiential units of study.

Year One
Land: Trees, Weather, Redwood Forest, Land Animals

Year Two
Sea: Tidepools, Water Animals, Ocean, Air

Year One
Pebbles, Sand and Silt, Insects and Plants, Motion and Matter

Year Two
Water and Climate, Solids and Liquids, Structures of Life

Year One
Soils, Rocks and Landforms, Ecosystems, Energy and Electromagnetism

Year Two
The Solar System, Body Systems/Puberty Education, Living Systems, Mixtures and Solutions


Young mathematicians at Aurora study mathematics with students in their same grade.

We use the Bridges in Mathematics curriculum which serves to create a strong conceptual understanding of mathematical thinking and builds a solid foundation for future mathematical endeavors.

The concepts to the right represent a sampling of topics explored in a given year. For more information on specific topics covered each year, please visit the Bridges website.

Counting, Geometry, Place Value, Comparison

1st Grade
Grouping, Adding, Subtracting, Numberlines, Shapes, Measuring

2nd Grade
Adding, Subtracting, Units of Measure, Geometrical Reasoning, Early Fractions

3rd Grade
Rounding, Estimating, Relationships between Numbers and Operations, Multiplication, Division, Area, Perimeter, Efficient Strategies

4th Grades
Factors, Multiples, Primes, Multiplication, Division with Remainders, Weight, Mass, Standard Algorithms, Multiplication Facts, Angles, Symmetry, Data, Efficient Strategies

5th Grade
Properties of Numbers, Surface Area, Volume, Fractions, Decimals, Converting Units, Long Division, Coordinate Graphing, Classification, Standard Algorithms

Language Arts

At Aurora we use the Writing and Reading Workshop model. Students read and write frequently in all areas of study in addition to designated Workshop time. We strive to ensure that all students moving beyond Aurora see themselves as readers and authors capable of conveying meaning that matters.


Reading is taught with a combination of meaning and phonics based strategies and students are provided with a lots of opportunities to interact with reading (read aloud, shared reading, guided reading,independent reading and book groups. Students progress from learning to read in grades K/1 and transition to reading to learn by the time they have completed 5th grade.


As they develop their craft and their voice, Aurora students understand that their words can be powerful agents of change whether they come in the form of a story, a poem, or a speech. Because there are so many ways to inspire and enhance written expression, we include visual, kinesthetic, and auditory experiences in each phase of a students’ writing process from planning to publishing.

Year One
Narrative Writing Information Writing Opinion Writing Fiction Writing Letter Writing Class Books Handwriting

Year Two
Small Moment Stories Non-fiction Books, Using words to make change, Poetry, Letter Writing, Class Books, Handwriting

Year One
Lessons from the Masters: Narrative Writing, Changing the World: Opinion Writing, People Who Make a Difference: Informational Writing, Poetry. 2nd Grade Handwriting: Print, 3rd Grade Handwriting: Cursive

Year Two
Crafting Personal Narratives, Myth Writing, All About Books. Science Writing: Lab Reports 2nd Grade Handwriting: Print, 3rd Grade Handwriting: Cursive

Year One
Narrative Writing, Information Writing, Opinion/Argument Writing, Speechwriting

Year Two
Realistic Fiction, Expository Essays, Persuasive Writing, Speechwriting

Social Emotional

Children and adults learn best when they are secure and confident in their inter and intra-personal relationships. A primary goal for all Aurora community members is to develop and sustain a respectful, cooperative and supportive environment that is the foundation for learning and independent thinking. Aurora teachers work to help students develop the social-emotional life skills they need to be successful in and out of the classroom. Resources include but are not limited to: Open Circle, Positive Discipline, Playworks, The Responsive Classroom, and Talk It Out.

At the K/1 level children work to establish a respectful, cooperative learning community. Children work together while exploring, creating, problem solving, and communicating. Students learn about themselves, their responsibilities to others, and their world. Topics of study include: inclusion, celebrating differences, feelings, and community building.

Elements of the K/1 social-emotional curriculum include:

Morning Meeting (Responsive Classroom): class promise, greetings, games, songs
Conflict resolution (Talk it Out)
Self-regulation (e.g. take a break)
All-school Community Creators
Partner Pals
Mix it Up!
Ally Week
Writing class books
Story plays
Read alouds

Elements of the 2/3 social-emotional curriculum include:

Morning Meeting (Responsive Classroom)
Class Meetings (Positive Discipline)
Conflict resolution (Talk it Out, Positive Discipline)
All-school Community Creators
Partner Pals
Inside/Out Lessons
Ally Week
Read Aloud
Self-regulation (e.g. take a break)
Quiet Time

Elements of the 4/5 social-emotional curriculum include:

Morning Meeting (Responsive Classroom)
Direct modeling of CARES (Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-Control)
All-school Community Creators
Partner Pals
Conflict resolution (Talk it Out)
Class Meetings/Council
Fifth Grade Lunchtime Affinity Groups
Opportunities for Self Reflection

Integrated Art

Throughout the year, students at each grade level come together to explore a topic deeply and from many different perspectives and to further build community across our classes. Students rotate through both classrooms and the art room and work with each teacher on lessons about a single theme.

Example of a deep dive:

When our 2/3 students study Oakland they consider some of the diverse communities that make our city so special. In one classroom students explore food of the African American, Chinese American, Italian American and Mexican American people who were among the first to settle in Oakland. They cook and eat together and discuss how these diverse cultures influence how all of us in Oakland eat today. In another classroom students study, make and play games that are native to each culture. Finally, in the art room, students study modern day Oakland-based artists from each of these communities and use their art as inspiration to make their own pieces.

Year One
Examples of past integrated art units include:
We Love Trees
Animal Families

Year Two
Examples of past integrated art units include:
Stand up for Others; Stand up Together

Year One
Examples of past integrated art units include:
Rocks Rock
Oakland Communities

Year Two
Examples of past integrated art units include:

Year One
Narrative Writing
Examples of past integrated art units include:
Layers of Time in California
California History

Year Two
Examples of past integrated art units include:
Unheard Voices
US History Performance

Topics Covered in Social Emotional Learning


Collaboration and active inclusion


The ability to recognize emotions and emotional responses


How to talk about conflicting and complicated ideas and feelings


The ability to resolve conflict and take responsibility for personal behavior


An awareness of different perspectives and the forces that shape them


An understanding of privilege and how it affects perspective


How to identify and confront stereotypes and biases

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