James River Day School

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Essential Questions

What do we teach?

The curriculum is based on what we believe students should know and be able to do. Because at James River Day School we believe that scholarship is based on seeking answers to questions, we have chosen essential questions to guide our curricular choices. These questions are meaningful to the youngest students and continue to provoke thought up to the highest levels of study.

We know that we can’t teach everything. We know that every choice we make – which book to read, which terms to learn, which era to study, which math concept to teach first – is important and value laden, so we want to make wise choices, and we want to revisit our choices often.

The following is a list of essential questions teachers have chosen to guide their instruction. We revisit our questions regularly as we review and improve our curriculum.

Who belongs? Who decides?
What is success?
What is freedom?
How do you know a true friend?

What are the world's most valuable resources and how do we protect them?
What do we really see when we look closely?
How are we all interconnected?
How does it work?
How do we investigate the world around us?
How and why do things change?

English and Language Arts
What is writing?
How does it connect?
Who is my audience?
How will my voice be heard?
Why does grammar matter?
What makes a good book?
What makes a book good?
Why do we read?
How will I understand what I read?
What is the author's purpose?
Why was it written?

How can I make my mistakes work for me?
How do numbers relate to each other?
Is there more than one way to solve a problem?
How will I need this?
What are the best problems?
What is a mistake?

Why is it significant?
How does it connect?
Where did it originate?

Fine Arts
What is art?
Why do we make art?
What is the role of art in our community?
What is the role of art in the world?
What type of art interests me?
How do I develop my technical and fine motor skills as an artist?
How will my voice as an artist be heard?
Performing Arts
What is music/performance? What makes good music/performance?
Why does the performing arts & music matter?
What is the role of the performing arts in society? What is my role in the performing arts?
How do we connect to the performing arts?
How can I improve?

Physical Education
How can I lead?
Who decides?
Why do people exercise?
Am I physically fit?
What does it mean to be healthy?
What is success?

World Languages
Why not just English?
"Mi casa es su casa," How does studying another culture help you appreciate your own culture?
How can you use language to empower yourself?
Is it possible to have culture without language?
Are words alone enough to communicate?

What matters?
If I can, should I?
Why innovate?
Why does it work?