A solid foundation.

Horizons at SFFS students spend at least 2.5 hours each day on reading, writing, math, and science instruction led by experienced independent and public school teachers. A 5-to-1 student-teacher ratio and 2 reading specialists who provide individual literacy support ensure that no students fall through the cracks. Bilingual classrooms build upon the work that many of our students are doing in their immersion classrooms during the year. And a Curriculum and Instructional Lead ensures the delivery of quality literacy-focused instruction.


Horizons at SFFS' curriculum has been specially designed by our teachers, our Academic Program Director, and our Curriculum and Instructional Lead to build upon the California Common Core Standards while incorporating the rich cultural context of the Mission District. In Summer 2018:

+ Kindergarten students studied insects in science.

They worked collaboratively to research and demonstrate their knowledge via a nonfiction book, a clay model, a detailed construction paper life cycle poster, and a 3D habitat built in a box. Each item utilized skills they've practiced and reinforced in science, reading, and writing, starting with more teacher-directed strategies, like close readings, and moving into student-directed ones, such as building models.

+ First graders crafted personal narratives.

They created a collaborative personal narrative story quilt. Each student has been given a quilt square where they transferred their narrative story on one side and drew a picture showcasing important family traditions on the other. Students focused on writing and storytelling skills, including: sensory details, organization, and sentence structure.

+ Second graders shared treats and stories.

They shared a recipe book, homemade treats, and a favorite family story. In their recipe books students have been practicing math skills, focused on measurement and fractions. For their personal family story, students made short narratives working on their story telling skills and were asked to write about their family and memories of cooking together. The project also included the science of food and what sorts of foods are healthy for their growth and development.

+ Third graders explored sound.

They investigated sound and the ways in which it interacts with the world around us. The students started by diving deeper into how sound is created and transmitted. They did investigations with paper cup telephones, balloons, and watched videos of various sound phenomena. Their projects centered around making homemade instruments, experimenting with what sorts of sounds are created by different materials, and the various sounds found in nature. They were introduced to the design thinking process and encouraged to iterate their designs.

+ Fourth graders created Rube Goldberg machines.

They worked on a writing and science project centered around the artist Rube Goldberg. Rube Goldberg was famous for his cartoon drawings of intricate machines that would accomplish trivial tasks. By using a myriad of chain reactions students built their own Rube Goldberg machines and wrote a narrative piece describing their process. Students began the unit with a study of Potential, Kinetic, and Electric energy and looked at how a Rube Goldberg machine transforms and transmits energy through the various reactions. Students constructed their own Rube Goldberg machine, including using marbles to knock over dominos, falling books to press a light switch, toy cars to raise a flag of their country, and many more. For the writing component students were asked to explain their process and the challenges they faced in building their machines.

+ Fifth graders examined identity through photography.

They were immersed in a 6 week photography elective led by First Exposures teachers that focused on the question of identity. The students explored various ways to show their own self and identity through their photographs. Students also learned the science behind photography and how light can leave images on certain mediums. They took a trip to a dark room and learned about the chemistry behind photo development. Students also chose a family member, friend, teacher or mentor to profile. They took a photograph of their subject and wrote an essay. In their photographs they attempted to capture their subjects’ identity and the significance that person plays in their life. They interviewed their subjects and wrote about the persons relation to them and the important role they play in their life.

Essential questions for Summer 2019: Sharing Stories, Building Bridges:

What is the story of myself and my family?

What can we learn from the stories of others?

How does sharing build connection to others?

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