Curriculum and Instruction

The Whole Child

Sandpiper offers California Common Core standards based instruction.

We are dedicated to the idea that academic and social/emotional skills are equally important. They develop in conjunction with each other. We strive to integrate social and academic content throughout our day. You will see this in our classrooms through collaborative learning opportunities, a focus on growth mindset, and embedded supports for academic and social language.

Second Step and Character Strong's Purposeful People serve as the basis of our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum. These program gives students the tools to excel in and out of the classroom as they make progress in the areas of self awareness, self regulation, situational awareness, and academic achievement.

English Language Arts

Our Balanced Literacy approach for reading and writing includes instruction in Phonics and Phonemic Awareness, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension. Assuring children are reading and writing at their individual levels is integral to literacy development. Students receive instruction tailored to their instructional level during Reading and Writing Workshop. Small Group Instruction assures that children receive the what they need to advance their literacy.

We use Units of Study published by Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in our ELA instruction. This genre based instructional format moves children through a series of units designed to increase their capacity to read and write effectively across all genres. Each Workshop begins with a whole class, explicit and directed "mini-lesson." These mini-lessons are designed to provide children with a repertoire of strategies they can use as readers and writers. After the mini-lesson, children then move into Independent Work where they build their skills as readers and writers. During this time, the teacher confers with children in either small group or individual sessions in order to build skills of specific learners not properly addressed during a mini-lesson. A Mid-Workshop teach to the entire class is often provided to the children based upon what the teacher notices in the readers and writers during the Independent Work session. Children then transition to Partner Share. The workshop model recognizes that children's work as readers and writers is enhanced when they are required to share their reading and writing with others. This act of "sharing" becomes, in effect, a way for children to further build and cement their understanding of reading and writing strategies. The workshop concludes with a celebration of the work that was accomplished during the workshop period.

English Language Development

English Language Learners receive the support and instruction they need to acquire the necessary academic and social language to access their grade level content. Students at the earlier stages of developing bilingualism may receive support from our Reading and Language Specialist. All classroom teachers integrate language development strategies into classroom instruction. These strategies include explicit vocabulary instruction, visual supports, gestures, collaborative opportunities, modeling, and more.


Depth, coherence, and rigor are key in our math standards, and our instruction focuses on conceptual understanding, procedural fluency and accuracy, and application. Our elementary math curriculum is Math Expressions. Our Middle School math curriculum is Connected Mathematics supplemented by online content such as Khan Academy and Desmos. Sandpiper follows Common Core Standards through 7th grade. Students who meet standards in 7th grade are well prepared for Algebra 1 or Common Core Math in 8th grade. We also routinely engage students in problem solving challenges provided through the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative such as Problem of the Month and Math Talks.

In addition to content standards for math at each grade level, we incorporate the Standards for Mathematical Practice at all grades. These include making sense of and persevering through problems, using appropriate tools, modeling, precision, constructing viable arguments, making use of pattern and structure. The Standards for Mathematical Practice describe how mathematicians should engage with content as they mature and develop expertise.


Science is central to the lives of all people. A high-quality science education means that students develop an in-depth understanding of content and key skills—communication, collaboration, inquiry, problem solving, and flexibility—that will serve them throughout their educational and professional lives. The State of California has shifted to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with a framework for core content in each grade level, cross cutting concepts that span all grades, and science and engineering practices. Twig Science is our Elementary Curriculum. StemScopes is our Middle School curriculum. We also use Mystery Science, which is an online-based science curriculum, to supplement our science instruction with hands-on activities. In TK through 3rd grade, science is taught by the classroom teacher. For 4th and 5th grade, students engage with our science specialist twice a week. 6th through 8th grade students receive science instruction from their science teacher twice a week.

Music and Art

Students at Sandpiper experience the fullness of visual and performing arts through programming offered by School Force and PTA. Art in Action is offered at all grade levels. Music instruction begins with recorders in 3rd grade and continues as a option through middle school. In our youngest grades, PTA supports music and dance.

Physical Education

All students receive PE instruction through classroom teachers and/or physical education specialists. In Kinder through 2nd grade, the PE program focuses on basics and introduction to games and sports. In 3rd through 5th grade students learn to push the students out of their comfort zone and try to grow personally. In 6th through 8th grade, students continue to develop their physical skills and learn to set monitor their own goals. In all grades our staff takes mastery approach that focuses on effort and learning. Mistakes are okay and something to learn from.

Social Studies/History

Social Studies Alive from the Teacher's Curriculum Institute is our social studies curriculum. It employs a standards-based inquiry approach to engage students in examining multiple perspectives and primary sources. It incorporates voices of historically under-represented groups and simulations that immerse students in the content.