Empire Gardens Classroom


The goal of our curriculum is to make learning come to life. Through strategic planning and community engagement, San José Unified has identified five key skills — The 5 Cs — and digital literacy as the primary tools that are crucial to preparing today’s students to be the thinkers, leaders, and creators of tomorrow.

The 5 Cs:

  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  • Creative Thinking Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Collaboration Skills
  • Global Citizenship

Digital literacy is critical for all students, not only in learning and retention of basic skills such as reading and math, but also interacting with others and fostering growth.

As we work to implement our strategic plan, we will continuously expand the method and programs we use to introduce, teach, and reinforce these vital skills for our students.


Grade Level Expectations

To learn more about grade level expectations under the Common Core State Standards, please review these grade-specific parent guides provided by the National PTA:


Report Cards

Report cards are just one of the many tools our teachers use to communicate with families, providing an opportunity for discussion and an essential check-in during the school year.

Because report cards are often a source of stress for both children and their families, we’ve created a video that explains how to read your child’s report card, as well as what to expect during parent/teacher conferences. Please take a few minutes to watch it, so you can get the most out of your partnership with your child’s teacher.

A standards-based report card

A standards-based report card lists the most important standards students should learn in each subject at their particular grade level. Instead of traditional letter grades, students receive a mark of 1-3 for grades TK-3 and 1-4 for grades 4 and 5 that indicates how well they have mastered the required standards.

Standards-based grading focuses on the student’s achievement relevant to each standard at the point of each grading period, rather than how quickly they learned or how many times it took them to master the standards. Our standards-based report card reflects the student’s:

  • Current proficiency level on end-of-year standards expectations;
  • Work in relation to the standards applied to all students at the grade level; and
  • Demonstration of study and social skills.
Reporting periods

Period 1: August to October
A report card and parent/teacher conference is required. The conference is normally held in-person at the school site.

Period 2: October to February
A report card is required. A parent/teacher conference is required if the student is deemed “At Risk for Retention”. All other conferences are optional. Either the parent or the teacher may request a conference at this time.

Period 3: February to June
A report card is required.


Resources & Supports

San José Unified developed Common Core Scope and Sequences for Language Arts and Math for grades TK-5. To support the Scope and Sequence Units, we have many Board adopted, Common Core aligned resources in English and Spanish. Teachers have received professional development for the use of these resources and are implementing in the classroom.

Common Core Resources


  • Origo Stepping Stones (hands-on, incorporation of manipulatives, integration of multiple standards, promotes higher-level thinking and collaboration)
  • Investigations (supplementary resource)
  • Dreambox TK-5

Language Arts

  • Lucy Calkins Writing Units of Study grades K-5
  • Lucy Calkins Reading Units of Study grades 3-5
  • Early Literacy Units for K-2
  • Istation TK-5
  • Project Read for Non-Categorical SDC and RSP
  • TeachTown for Severely Handicapped SDC, ED, and ARP

Social Studies

  • McGraw Hill: Impact Social Studies grades 2-5
  • MacMillan/McGraw Hill: California Vistas 2006 grades K-1


  • Twig Science grades K-5
Digital Citizenship

The Internet can open the door to a wonderful world. The ability to interact and communicate with others, keep in touch with family and friends, perform research, and find information benefits students in many ways.

However, the Internet can be a dangerous place for students if they don’t know how to make safe and smart choices. Parents and educators can provide guidance and information to help students understand how to use the Internet in a safe and appropriate way.

Common Sense Media provides advice for families in a 24/7 media world, with links to Internet safety topics and how-to videos. Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology.

iKeepSafe provides families with all the tools, education, and resources they need to stay safe online and to implement an Internet safety strategy in their homes.

Developed by the California Department of Education via the K-12 High Speed Network, this site for parents includes information about social networking, blogging, digital slang, and other topics of interest to parents.

Language Arts Scope & Sequence

Please click below to review the scope and sequence for Language Arts instruction for grades K-5.

Early Literacy Program

SJUSD is very excited to be implementing our K-2 Early Literacy Institute Program in all of our elementary schools. Our goal is to provide focused instruction with rigorous content that supports our students to achieve grade level reading skills by the end of first grade. To do this we have:

  • Created a Common Core State Standards aligned curriculum with support materials
  • Crafted a research based Early Literacy Block
  • Provided Language Learner Supports
  • Integrated 21st century skills into our design
  • Developed systematic planners so that every student is getting the same quality instruction at all of our schools.

What does the Early Literacy Block look like in a K-2 classroom?

Our Balanced Literacy Block is divided into 4 key literacy components: Phonological Awareness/Phonics, Reading Comprehension, Guided Reading/Collaborative groups and Writing.  These components are implemented as whole group lessons, differentiated small teacher led groups in guided reading, and in collaborative learning experiences in which students continue to apply the targeted skill alongside their peers.  Language is infused throughout the block to ensure we are building and extending their language and therefore creating effective communicators.

Writing instruction is taught using a Writer’s Workshop model.  Students engage in a focused mini-lesson to extend their writing skills that are applied during independent writing time.

By systematically putting all these components into place, devoting time every day to reading, and having students actively engage in their learning, we are creating happy readers in our classrooms! Readers who will continue to thrive and grow as learners because our teachers have established a solid foundation in literacy to equip them with the tools necessary to meet the demands of the content they will encounter in their educational path.

Origo Stepping Stones Math Overview

This document provides suggested pacing, CCSS Domains covered in each module, Enduring Understandings, and Essential Questions for grades K-5.


Student Success Teams

Each school in San Jose Unified has a Student Success Team (SST). A student can be referred to an SST either by their family or school staff when there are concerns regarding the student’s academics and learning. The family can initiate the process either by contacting the school in writing or speaking with school staff in person and requesting an SST for their child.

The purpose of the SST process is to bring together a collection of professionals to determine the best approach to meeting a student’s individual learning needs. The goal of the SST is to provide quality intervention and support to allow the student to make progress toward grade level standards.

The SST meets every six (6) weeks to review the student’s data, select or adjust interventions, and determine appropriate next steps. The family plays a critical role in the SST process, consulting with the teacher during family-teacher conferences and attending SST meetings when invited. The SST remains in contact with the family throughout the process, developing a collaboration between home and school to maximize student growth.


Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)

GATE testing begins in November. Every San José Unified student has the chance to be tested once for GATE, usually in the 2nd grade. All students have an equal opportunity to be identified as GATE regardless of their gender, linguistic, racial, ethnic, cultural, or socio-economic background.

Students who score in the 98th percentile or above on the Raven Progressive Matrices Plus (RPM+) are identified as Gifted and Talented”. The RPM+ does not measure specific knowledge or concepts, but rather measures a student’s ability to perceive new patterns and relationships. Students with high scores typically solve problems in a different way from their peers and often “think outside the box.”

Program Services

The teacher provides GATE services in the regular classroom. Teachers are trained to use an instructional framework where they provide flexible grouping as part of the lesson. It is during this time that GATE students may be asked to go deeper into the subject matter being studied.
One of the ways San José Unified helps provide differentiation is through our Blended Learning programs (Istation and DreamBox).

High-Achieving vs. Gifted

Bright or high-achieving students are often “rule followers”. They are able to read situations, know what is expected, and carry out expectations at a high level. These students often get high grades, complete all work, and are excellent citizens.

Gifted children may be “rule benders” or push the envelope of expectations. They may be highly curious, want to know why, feel they are beyond others, may see rules or guidelines not applying to them, and are often unorganized. This may impede their performance.

Gifted students may have surprisingly heightened emotional sensitivity, which can lead to a child’s feelings being easily hurt.  This includes a low or no tolerance for perceived criticism from others. Every gifted student is unique.


Library Resources

San José Unified believes that the school library is an essential part of the learning community. We provide all students with the research tools needed to be prepared for college, career, and life. To browse the online catalog for print materials at each site, students can click here to access their school’s online Library Catalog.

In addition to print resources, Library Databases are provided to all students at every grade level. Databases are important tools to foster critical thinking and inquiry based learning. Knowing how to use databases is an essential skill for all 21st century learners. They provide an indexed collection of magazine, journal, newspaper articles, abstracts, and other information, which has been checked for accuracy and reliability by publishers and then licensed for distribution in online/electronic format. Please check your school’s library site for links to all of our district provided databases.


Common Core State Standards

California’s Common Core Standards are designed to reflect the knowledge and skills that our students need for success in college and careers. A common set of learning goals helps teachers and parents ensure students are challenged and making appropriate progress.

Click here to download a parent guide to Common Core

Click here to watch a quick video

What is Common Core?

California educators have joined a national movement to adopt common standards and assessments for English language arts and mathematics. Common standards allow for collaboration among states on best practices and professional development.

These learning goals help ensure that students meet college and work expectations, are prepared to succeed in a global economy and society, and are provided with rigorous content and application of higher knowledge thinking.

Benchmarked against international standards, the Common Core Standards assist students in their preparation to complete the requirements for enrollment at a California public university.

How were the standards developed?

The K-12 Common Core State Standards were developed through a state-led effort to establish consistent and clear education standards for English language arts and mathematics. The initiative was launched by and supported by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association. In the Common Core Standard adoption process, California added supporting standards to complete the unique picture necessary for our students.

The Common Core also added strength to the existing California standards by including additional standards for vocabulary and new standards for collaborative discussions. Literacy standards that focus on reading and writing instruction during history/social studies, science, and technology also were included. In mathematics, standards were added to demonstrate a stronger emphasis on number sense and algebraic thinking.


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