Holly Academy: Curriculum Overview

Curriculum Overview


Holly Academy believes and recognizes that successful readers become successful lifelong learners. It is our responsibility to provide students the tools needed to become successful readers and learners.

Our reading program begins in Young 5’s as we systematically introduce, practice, and begin to master sounds and symbols in our language, through teaching of phonics and phonemic awareness. Comprehension of what is read is equally important. Just recognizing and/or reading words is not useful if what’s read is not understood.

Comprehension skills are taught, modeled, practiced, and evaluated at every grade level. All genres of reading are presented to students: informational, narrative, novels, poetry, drama, etc. Active participation is encouraged throughout the grades.

 Third Grade Reading Law – Public Act 306 of 2016 (now referred to as MCL 380.1280f) requires all Michigan third grade students not scoring proficient on the third grade state assessment be retained. The law states that third graders may repeat third grade if they are more than one grade level behind beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.  The school will provide a reading program that is designed to improve your child’s specific reading concern. This program includes teaching strategies to help your child be a successful reader. Your child may also be assigned to a highly effective teacher of reading, a reading specialist, an evidence-based reading program, daily small group instruction, ongoing assessments, or specialized reading help.

Writing / Grammar

Holly Academy - Reading/Grammar

All students are expected to develop a strong understanding of, and appreciation for, written and oral English language. Students are instructed in the writing process, grammar, punctuation, spelling, syntax, and handwriting. Certainly neatness is important in presentations and daily work, and excellent penmanship is an expectation at all levels.

Students are encouraged to move at a challenging pace and assignments are tailored to the student’s abilities and needs. More advanced students are challenged to go beyond the standard and extend themselves and their education.


Mathematics plays a prominent role in modern life. Holly Academy’s math curriculum provides holistic instruction so that children can master mathematical concepts. Instruction in mathematics must emphasize content (facts and skills) and processes (the modes of thinking). Students are taught a constructivist approach through the process of thinking in mathematical terms and creating solutions for problems encountered in daily life. Through critical thinking, cooperative and individual lessons, writing activities, memorization, and hands-on experiences, students acquire authentic learning of mathematical concepts. Instruction is thematically based with integration in all subject areas.


Science instruction is taught by highly qualified science instructors on a daily basis. In Y5-5th grade, students learn through “Active Science”. This approach is an inquiry-based science program that capitalizes on students’ natural interest in science. By providing activities, and investigations, staff challenges and encourages students to develop thinking and problem-solving skills, to participate and interact in a modern scientific and technological world. In grades 6th-8th, students build on the “Active Science” knowledge and begin the “IQWST” approach. “IQWST” is a standards-based, investigation centered, middle school curriculum that transforms adolescents into scientists.

Holly Academy - Science

Social Studies

Our social studies curriculum helps build four capacities: subject knowledge, thinking skills, commitment to the core democratic values, and citizenship. Teachers guide learners to move beyond memorization by creating engaging learning experiences which demand sustained, disciplined, and critical thought on topics that have relevance to life beyond school. The goal of our teachers is to help students to continually evaluate and focus on how to improve individual life skills and become life-long learners.


Holly Academy - Music

Younger music students (Young 5’s/K/1) learn to feel, move, and play to the steady beat before studying dynamics, tempo, pitch, ostinato, and the difference between rhythm and the steady beat. Initial melodic composition studies include using iconic notation with magnets to create ascending and descending melodies using steps and skips. Students play a variety of rhythmic instruments, keyboards, and ukuleles.

The upper general music curriculum (3-5th grade) is focused on fostering agency through the study of composition and improvisation. There is a heavy emphasis on playing instruments at Holly Academy, including keyboards, marimba, steel drums, ukulele, vibraphone, xylophones, as well as a variety of percussion instruments. Students learn about the elements of music and demonstrate their understanding through improvisation and composition. The students use iconic representation to notate their compositions. Students use the platform edu.bandlab.com to create and record original work.

Holly Academy has an extra-curricular instrumental music program that meets before school at 7 a.m. for 4th and 5th graders. Students play a wide variety of instruments, such as electric guitar, drum set, steel drums, piano, traditional wind band and string instruments.

Our middle school ensembles include daily electives featuring Choir, the Academy Art Ensemble, and the Creative Cover Band.


Beginning in Young 5’s, students are exposed to a wide variety of Spanish vocabulary. In the lower grades, the emphasis is on vocabulary memorization in topic areas such as colors, body parts, and food. Beginning in 3rd grade, the emphasis of the program switches from vocabulary acquisition to verb conjugation. As early as 3rd grade, students will learn to conjugate a few basic verbs in present tense, allowing them to decode and write simple sentences in Spanish. With each passing year, students’ vocabulary will increase, as will their ability to conjugate verbs.

By the end of 8th grade, students should have a 1000+ word vocabulary in Spanish, and be able to conjugate the three types of Spanish verbs (ar, ir, and er) in present, present progressive (participle), past participle, near future, future, past preterit, and past imperfect tenses, leaving them well prepared to continue with advanced Spanish in high school.

Holly Academy - Spanish


Young five – fifth grade students visit a computer lab bi-weekly to develop basic technology literacy. They master the ability to responsibly use appropriate technology to communicate, solve problems, and access, manage, integrate, evaluate, and create information to improve learning in all subject areas and to acquire lifelong skills for the 21st century. Middle school students integrate technology literacy into their assignments using the technology available in classrooms and the computer labs. Second through eighth grade students access technology through one to one Chromebooks.

Holly Academy - Technology

All students will:

  • Apply common software features including spellchecker, thesaurus, formulas, charts, graphs, and sounds to enhance communication with an audience and to support creativity

  • Create an original project (e.g., presentation, web page, newsletter, information brochure) using a variety of media (e.g., animations, graphs, charts, audio, graphics, video) to present content information to an audience

  • Illustrate a content-related concept using a model, simulation, or concept-mapping software

Special Education

Special needs students are provided the support and individualized attention needed to ensure success. We work to ensure their access to, and participation in, varied opportunities. Through adherence to comprehensive individualized education plans, identified students receive instruction at a level of rigor commensurate with their ability. We embrace a philosophy of personalized instruction to maximize every student’s potential.

Physical Education

Physical education is a sequence of developmental experiences in which children learn through movement. Bi-weekly classes in physical education help students develop in four areas: individual skill development, teamwork, sportsmanship, and developing a positive attitude toward lifelong physical fitness.

Young 5’s (Developmental Kindergarten)

Holly Academy’s Developmental K (Young 5’s) classroom is designated for those students who turn five between September 1st and December 1st of the entering school year. The children placed in this class will be presented material at a rate commensurate with their developmental level. Throughout the school year, we will progress monitor the students to determine growth. Students who meet all benchmarks for first grade will be promoted to that grade. Students determined to need more time to meet benchmarks will be placed in our kindergarten program for the following year. Parents of children with late summer birthdays may also opt to select our Young 5’s classroom.

 *Per state legislation, parents must sign a waiver for students born between September 1st and December 1st of the entering year.

Holly Academy

Holly Academy