In addition to meeting all the requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the curriculum gives special attention to the integration of Gospel values. Curriculum guidelines for all subject areas are provided through the Department for Catholic Schools. The guidelines serve to guide and give continuity to the teaching/learning process and to meet individual needs of students.

All textbooks are selected from texts recommended by the Curriculum Directors of the diocese or through in-school reviews conducted by administration and teachers. Strict adherence is given to selecting materials that are consistent with the Catholic philosophy of education, is aligned with our curriculum, and adaptable to the Continuous Growth Program.

Religious education is the center of the Catholic school. As such a conscious effort is made to create a Christ-centered atmosphere by stressing Christian values throughout the school and by integrating religion into every aspect of the curriculum. The administration, faculty, and staff are deeply interested in and involved in developing spiritual values and good moral conduct. Priests, teachers, and principal actively participate in the planning and implementation of a viable religion program.

The Diocesan human sexuality program, the Catholic Vision of Love, is incorporated into religion classes in Levels 5-8. Formal religion instruction is enhanced by faith experiences, including involvement in school Masses, prayer services, sacramental programs, and service-learning experiences.

Course Overview

Religion
  • Daily religion class
  • Weekly school liturgies
  • Full preparation for the sacraments of First Reconciliation, First Communion, and Confirmation
  • Catholic Vision of Love taught in Middle School
  • Formal and informal prayer, such as Shadow Stations of the Cross and Living Rosaries
  • Student opportunities to serve in ministerial roles including: lectors, cantors, class mass leaders, altar servers, bell ringers, singers, instrumentalists, and liturgical dancers
  • ACRE testing (Assessing Catholic Religious Education) in Grades 5 & 8
  • Activities reinforcing the value of life during “Respect Life” month
  • ANGEL Way Virtues Program (the practical application in everyday classroom life of core Christian values)
  • GRACE program (monthly prayer service for the intentions of the school and parish)
Reading/Language Arts
  • Nearly 50% of class time in Grades K-2 devoted to developing Language Arts skills including reading, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, creative writing, handwriting, phonetic decoding, listening, and spelling.
  • All genres of writing taught beginning in First Grade
  • Writing integrated into all areas of the Curriculum
  • Student journaling
  • Monthly reading incentive programs
  • Penmanship assessed in all grades, K-8.
  • Cursive writing, beginning in Grade 2
  • Yearly Diocesan Writing Assessments
  • Individual student portfolios kept throughout duration at SPS to monitor progress
  • Library and research skills reinforced through formal weekly Library classes for all grades, K-8.
  • Media Literacy and Reader’s Theater to stimulate higher-order critical and creative thinking skills.
  • Reading and study of classic novels and emerging classics as students advance in grade level.
  • Creative book report assignments
  • Use of The Criterion® Online Writing Evaluation Service in Middle School.
  • Classroom+ opportunities including:
  • Allegheny Intermediate Unit Reading Festival for Students
  • “Battle of the Books” competitions available to all students
  • Forensics (Competitive Public-Speaking Club) available to all students in grades 5-8
Mathematics
  • Mastery of the Five Strands of Mathematical proficiency
  • Conceptual Understanding
  • Skill in carrying out mathematical procedures
  • Strategic Competence to formulate, represent, and solve mathematical problems
  • Adaptive Reasoning
  • Productive Disposition: The habitual inclination to see mathematics as sensible, useful, and worthwhile
  • Extended Math period
  • In-classroom curriculum differentiation to meet each student’s individual abilities.
  • Additional time for the study of Math during all Library classes, Grades K-8
  • Teacher-led early-morning Math help sessions in Middle School
  • Opportunity for qualifying 8th graders to attend 9th Grade Honors Algebra I at Bishop Canevin High School.
  • Classroom+ opportunities such as Thinking Caps, K’nex Challenge, Quiz Bowls and Chess Club
Social Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Geography & Map Skills
  • Global Citizenship
  • Sociology
  • American & World History
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Emerging Global Issues
  • Patriotism
  • Religious & Civic Duties & Values
Computer/Technology

Computer skills are learned and developed in a sequential manner. Each time new skills are introduced, they presume and build upon skills presented in a previous grade level. This scope and sequence was compiled by identifying, listing, and determining appropriate grade level for introduction, development, and mastery of skills. These standards were developed by the Technology Foundation Standards for Students from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) Project.

Overview of Goals of Computer Education for all students:

  • Develop confidence and comfort in using technology devices, applications the Internet and coding.
  • Demonstrate correct and respectful use of all technology related equipment
  • Work cooperatively, collaboratively, and respectively with others when using technology
  • Identify the common uses of technology, changes in technology and their impact on society, and articulate the advantages and disadvantages of its use
  • See a relationship between using technology tools and improving personal and professional productivity
  • View the Internet and technology tools as sources of information and means of communication with limitations
  • Develop logical thought processes and problem solving strategies thorough
  • Coding.org exercises
  • Understand the principles of Robotics through programming Bee-Bots, Spheros, Finches, Hummingbirds
  • Appreciate and practice ethical use of technology
  • Criterion® Online Writing Evaluation Service - a web-based instructor-led writing tool offering immediate diagnostic feedback.
Visual Arts
  • Use of various media and techniques in the creation of visual art
  • Study of world masters and opportunity to create individual art replicating those styles (Picasso, van Gogh, etc.)
  • Study of basic art elements and design principles and how they work together
  • Study of visual arts’ important relationship to history and culture
  • Development of art assessment skills and lifelong appreciation for the Fine Arts
  • Opportunity to help create and paint set pieces for the Middle School Musical
  • Opportunity for additional art time during recess
  • Study of connections between the visual arts and other disciplines.
  • Annual Art Exhibits
  • Catholic Schools Week “Glow Room” - a glow-in-the-dark exhibit featuring the art of all SPS students Grades K-8
  • Diocese of Pittsburgh Student Art Exhibit – three-day weekend exhibit hosted by SPS and featuring top student artwork from several area Catholic schools
  • Entry into the PPG Wintergarden Gingerbread House contest. St Philip has produced a 2nd or 1st place winner 4 consecutive years
Music
  • Instruction on how to read and notate music
  • Instruction in progressive sequential order on the concepts of rhythm, melody, tone color, tempo, dynamics, form, harmony, texture and style with objectives becoming more sophisticated as students advance through the grades
  • Instruction on how to play the recorder and performance in an evening Recorder Concert (Grade 5)
  • Unit in music technology including the use of apps to create original music compositions (Middle School)
  • Performances involving group and solo singing, liturgical dancing, narration, instrumental solos and group solos, and re-enactments
  • Opportunity to join the school band (Grades 4 and older)
  • Opportunity for advanced band students to audition for the Diocesan Honors Band
  • Opportunity to work on sound design for the Middle School Musical
  • Development of a lifelong appreciation of music in all its forms
Physical Education
  • Formal weekly gym class for all grades, K-8
  • Presidential Physical Fitness Award Assessments & Testing for Grades 4-8.
  • Developmentally appropriate activities and progressive skill building intended to encourage a lifetime commitment to physical fitness
  • Christian approach emphasized in regards to teamwork, appreciation of individual diversity, respect for others, and attitude development toward winning and losing.
  • Annual all-day “Crazy Olympics,” in which teams comprised of students from all grade levels compete in a variety of creative relay races
  • Individualized goal setting geared toward improving self-esteem
  • Gym classes focus on the development of:
  • Locomotor & Non-Locomotor Movements
  • Exercises – Stretching
  • Games of Low Organization (Primary grades)
  • Games of Low / High Organization (Intermediate and Middle School grades)
  • Rhythmic Movements & Rhythmic Dance
  • Warm up/Cool down exercises
  • Vigorous Exercises – Stretching (introduced in Middle School)
  • Aerobics (introduced in Middle School)

Resistance Training (introduced in Middle School)

Science

The SPS Science curriculum offers progressive learning in all three major fields of scientific study:  physical, earth, and life sciences.  Key subject areas are revisited annually with increasing complexity as students advance in grade level.  A dedicated STEAM committee explores new avenues each year for additional learning in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math.

Curriculum highlights include:

  • Mastery of the Scientific Method:  Inquire, Research, Hypothesize, Experiment, Analyze and Conclude.
  • Discrepant demonstrations to introduce new science concepts and challenge student knowledge of scientific principles
  • Introduction of Science in Kindergarten
  • Weekly labs in the higher grades designed to promote mastery of key science concepts
  • Progressively more complex hands-on projects and experiments beginning in the Lower Grades.  Examples include:Grades 1-4
  • Major organ introduction through “Paper People”
  • Building and study of various models including animal habitats, human bones and lungs, plant & animal cells, and amusement parks (to study gravity and potential and kinetic energy)  
  • Plant Web Quest highlighting growth, survival and reproduction
  • “Hurricane” tracking using latitude/longitude coordinates and hurricane “safe house” modeling to analyze the effects of water and wind on house strength
  • Experiments demonstrating electrical circuits, static electricity, magnetism, liquid density, force, buoyancy, changing states of matter, and friction’s effect on moving objects 

Grades 5-8:

  • Hydroponic lab activities
  • Bone density experiments
  • DNA modeling
  • Rocket construction, launch and analysis
  • Sound wave study
  • Trebuchet and catapult testing
  • Hot air balloon experiments (study of gas laws)
  • “Tower of Power” experiments (study of tensile and shearing forces) 
  • Fossil casting
  • Study of internal organs using life-size human model