General Studies (JK-8)
The Ottawa Jewish Community School is dedicated to providing excellence in education. At the OJCS, we encourage and challenge our students to achieve academic excellence and inspire them to develop a life-long love of learning. Our faculty is committed to providing the most current practices in education and the best possible learning experience. Our students benefit from innovative teaching practices, use of advanced technology, integration between secular and Judaic studies, small class sizes and a program of study that is inquiry-based and designed to prepare students for success in life.
The trilingual academic program for ADK to grade eight follows the Ontario Ministry of Education curriculum for language arts, math, science and social studies, as well as music, visual arts, physical education and integrated technology, and clearly identifies the knowledge and skills students are expected to demonstrate in the classroom. Enriched learning experiences are created through presentations, fieldtrips, workshops and hands-on, inquiry-based learning.
OJCS accommodates different learning styles and we set expectations that call for the use of a variety of instruction, assessment tools, and strategies. Through differentiated instruction we encourage students to critically think, reflect and to question effectively in order to continually grow and learn. Smaller class sizes provide students with the attention they need from teachers to achieve maximum results. Students are provided with a rich literacy program, which strengthens their reading skills, comprehension, communication and writing development.
We use the PM Benchmark and CASI reading assessments three times a year to track students’ progress. Our strong math program includes a dedicated math coach and a focus on problem-based learning, critical thinking and a challenging and robust curriculum that includes Mathletics, an online interactive math resource. Our math coach on staff helps our teachers develop lessons for children with learning difficulties or those who need a more advanced curriculum, ensuring each individual child attains proficiency.
Judaic Studies (JK-5, 6-8)
OJCS focuses on classic Judaic study. As a pluralistic community school, students learn about Judaism, Hebrew, Israel and Jewish values and traditions. Through history, arts, language and interactive technology, students make their own connection to Judaism and begin their path of investigating what it means to be a Jew. Some of the subjects our students explore include Tzedakah and Tikkun Olam, the Torah and prophets, Jewish history, Jewish laws and customs.
We offer students two streams of Hebrew language learning – Core and Ivrit – as well as Hebrew as a Second Language (HSL) for new students with no Hebrew background and English as a Second Language (ESL) for first-language Hebrew students. Culture and Heritage is another option available to support students who benefit from learning in their first language (English).
Grade six, seven, and eight Jewish studies are more thematically oriented, emphasizing the contemporary messages that one can derive from the study of text starting in Bereshit and expanding to other books of the Torah. In grade seven, the issues of relationships are discussed and how they relate to modern day situations and problems.
The grade eight curriculum has been dedicated to the topic of spirituality, as it pertains to the modern day Jew as derived from Torah text, starting from topics in Genesis and extending throughout the Torah text. Grade eight students also learn about ethical issues of a contemporary nature as derived from Talmudic sources.
Jewish Court of All Time (JCAT): JCAT is a program sponsored by RAVSAK that brings Jewish History to life in classrooms through the creation of a trial that is based on a particular contemporary issue.
Partnership2Gether (P2G): In partnership with our sister school, Hanadiv, in Metullah, Israel, our students and teachers works on joint educational projects within our community.
J-STEM: This program integrates secular and Judaic studies through the process of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math with Jewish Law.
French Language Studies (JK-3, 4-8)
The French Program at OJCS follows a Communicative/ Experiential approach. This approach takes into account the context in which the language is used for communication, both oral and written.
The program is designed to have the student develop language and communicative skills by doing things rather than by simply examining the language. The students no longer begin by studying the code system in order to understand its functioning. Instead, they find themselves in a situation where they must use the language for a definite purpose, to complete a clearly defined task, much like the principle of immersion. To successfully complete a specific task, the students need to know certain language elements such as grammar rules, verbs, and sentence structure.
In this approach, we look at the socio-cultural context of the French language in order to prepare them to live in Canadian Society and to broaden their cultural horizons. This includes French Canadian culture in Québec, the French Acadian culture in Atlantic Canada, the culture of pockets of French speakers in other provinces such as Saskatchewan and the culture of francophone nations throughout the world.
This approach also focuses on how languages are learned, the strategies used and makes language comparisons such as French words that are the same as English words, the use of masculine/feminine in comparison to the Hebrew language just to name a few.
Our French teachers from ADK to grade eight work very hard to ensure that our students receive an excellent French program that exceeds Ontario Ministry curriculum standards.
In grade four, the program is streamed so that students can begin to work at their respective levels; we differentiate between Core French (French) and Extended French (Français). The students are selected based on their performance in grade three French, Mr. Lamb’s observations of the class, and a short assessment dialogue with Mr. Lamb.
In grades four and five, the Extended French students study Social Studies in French for two periods a week. In Grades six to eight they have three periods of Social Studies taught in French.
It is important to note that at OJCS, we offer 20% more French per week to the Core French students than the Ottawa Public Board Core French students. Our Extended French program is similar to the Ottawa Public Board in that we also teach a second core subject in French, Social Studies.
We are proud of our graduates who go on and excel in any program requiring the use of French in secondary or post-secondary language settings. Many of our students successfully transition to immersion contexts in high school.
Every year, we celebrate French day and our ADK to grade three French classes present the AIM plays and the French department put together a great French assembly which showcases the talents of all our students. Whether it is a song, a skit, a poem, or a story, their love of the French language is clear.
Enrichment and Gifted Learners
The Ottawa Jewish Community School (OJCS) is an inherently rich environment for gifted learners, as well as for students who require a deeper investigation of the curriculum. Our trilingual program offers our students the opportunity to learn English, French and Hebrew through our extended language programs starting in grade 4, with further in-class enrichment opportunities available. Our gifted learners have their day-to-day learning needs met within the classroom through the differentiation of content inviting opportunities for meaningful enrichment, extension, and where appropriate, beyond grade-level acceleration. Remaining integrated with same-age peers is important to our students’ overall social-emotional growth.
Gifted Learners also participate in our Special Interest Learning (SIL) class, which invites them to engage in self-selected projects, which are of high interest, supported by a resource specialist. The collaborative projects selected by the SIL students each year offer our gifted learners the opportunity to be creative, innovation, think critically and research new ideas and concepts. It sparks new areas of interest such as: coding, blogging, creating a country, as well as leadership initiatives which involve mentoring younger students or implementing school-wide initiatives. Our gifted learners also access alternate programming within the classroom in the form of high interest cross-curricular projects. Often our gifted learners have a propensity for spelling and further skill-building is offered through rich vocabulary building programs and extended writing activities.
Our on-site Math Specialist offers enrichment opportunities from grade 1-8, within the classroom and in small groups. The enrichment math program seeks to have OJCS students enjoy learning, build confidence and focus on the following educational objectives: development of curiosity and perseverance of math strategies, explore concepts taught in math class with a greater and extended understanding, build higher cognitive recognition of number sense and number operations, encourage further independent exploration of mathematical ideas, develop alternate strategies for problem solving, explore open-ended questions, strengthen math skills through the use of multiple strategies and manipulatives, and to develop metacognition through self-assessment and reflection. Each spring this learning is reflected when our grade 7 and 8 students enjoy participating in the annual Gauss math competition, demonstrating superior higher order thinking, with many OJCS students placing in the top 25% in Canada.
OJCS continues to annually participate in the Enrichment Mini-Course Program offered through the University of Ottawa and Carleton University the first week of May. Our Grade 8 students are able to engage a week-long course of interest in a university setting with other students from across the Ottawa area. This enrichment opportunity benefits our whole grade 8 class.
OJCS students move forward with tremendous opportunities ahead of them. Many access immersion and extended French programs at the high school level, the International Baccalaureate Program, Gifted Learners programs, as well as attending university-level classes throughout their high school experience. Our small class sizes and dedicated staff provide our gifted learners and students in need of enrichment with an optimum learning context. Our gifted and enrichment programming engages OJCS students in open-ended, inquiry-based, high interest learning which supports them in reaching excellence.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and are core subjects that build innovators. STEM curriculum uses a hands-on, problem-based approach to learning that develops critical thinking skills and facilitates innovation. Real-world situations that students can relate to are the basis of STEM curriculum and then encourages a more engaged and interactive learning atmosphere.
We are incorporating STEM into many of our classrooms through activities such as building bridges out of pasta in science class to constructing mini Sukkahs that are both kosher and to scale in Judaics class.
As an extension of STEM, a team of OJCS students participated in our first-ever First Lego League Competition in December 2015. Students in Grades 5 to 8 had the challenge of building a robot from Lego and then programming it to complete a series of assigned tasks on a thematic playing field related to recycling, reusing and reducing waste. Our STEM lab now serves as a hub for our school robotics club, open to all grades, and other STEM-related activities and projects.
Technology is changing the life of schools – it plays an increasingly important role in teaching and learning. New technologies extend learning to spaces beyond classrooms, allow for new curricula that bring real-world problems into schools and support new forms of assessment for learning.
Through integrated learning experiences made possible with the use of advanced technology, we are building our capacity to provide students with opportunities to examine problems and explore innovative solutions. The effective implementation of assistive technologies, such as SMARTBoards, iPads and educational Apps, is enhancing literacy acquisition, mathematical understanding, individualized learning experiences and student engagement.
Key digital teaching and learning tools in our classrooms:
- All classes are equipped with SMARTBoard technology
- All classes have access to 30 iPad Air devices
- Students and teachers have access to document camera stands
- Students have access to laptop computers
- Our teachers have been digitally trained through Apple Canada’s Professional Development Program on the use of educational apps and websites
- We are active on multiple social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Constant Contact
Arts (Visual, Music, Performing)
Since expanding our music program in September 2015 and creating a brand new music room, all students from ADK to Grade 8 receive one period of music class a week. Students from ADK to Grade 4 explore different elements of music through playing the recorder, singing and listening. The curriculum also includes music history, rhythms, different instruments and the orchestra. Music literacy (notation) is introduced after kindergarten to prepare students for the transition to Grade 5 when they learn to play a concert band instrument.
The Grade 5 to 8 music program is structured on a concert-band model. Students learn how to care for and play a concert band instrument as well as compose and perform various types of music using their instrument of choice. Class discussions cover the elements of music as well as different genres. Students have the opportunity to showcase what they’ve learned throughout the year at an end-of-year music concert.
Our school walls and classrooms are brought to life with murals, sculptures and paintings created by our young artists. Students in Grades 1 to 8 are taught visual arts one period a week in our colourful and eye-catching art room. Following the Ontario curriculum, each month focuses on a different theme or art medium and introduces artists who specialize in that medium. Consistent from year-to-year in the art curriculum are three major subjects: Aboriginal and Canadian Art, Art History and Jewish Art.
The goal of the Physical Education and Athletics program at OJCS is to instill a life-long commitment to healthy living. Students in grades ADK to five have Phys. Ed. twice a week and students in grades 6 to 8 have Phys. Ed. three times a week. In addition to structured sports and athletics, units from the Ontario Health Curriculum are taught. Starting in 2015, students in grades three to five have a free swim period at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre as part of the Physical Education and Healthy Living program.
OJCS Rams always make the team! Whether you’re new to the sport or already have experience on the field, students of all levels are encouraged to join our sport teams. Our athletes practice on our school facilities and participate in games and competitions against other schools that belong to the Ottawa Independent Schools Athletic Association (OISAA). The athletics program promotes good sportsmanship, team building, leadership and a positive, enjoyable approach to physical activity. We have a new team of coaches on staff that train students in soccer, basketball, volleyball, cross country and badminton.