Grayhawk Elementary School is a Core Knowledge School of Distinction. Their dedicated community of teachers, leadership and parents have embraced a collaborative and domain-based approach to learning.

After extensive observations, interviews, and surveys, we are honored to note Grayhawk Elementary School as a Core Knowledge School of Distinction due to the following qualities:

About Grayhawk Elementary School

Grayhawk Elementary School is a public school in Scottsdale, Arizona. They have about 25 teachers working with around 600 pre-kindergarten through sixth grade students.

Grayhawk Elementary School and Core Knowledge Foundation

Grayhawk Elementary School has been utilizing Core Knowledge resources since 1998. They currently use the Core Knowledge Sequence and our History and Geography program. The principal and Core Knowledge Coordinator at Grayhawk are committed to the Core Knowledge approach to knowledge-based schooling. They work together with the staff to provide an outstanding learning environment and meet students’ needs.

Navigating a Shift in State Standards

Despite new state standards in Arizona, Grayhawk’s curriculum plan and implementation of the Core Knowledge Sequence follows a logical, coherent progression. Their leadership team participated in training and individually pored over the new standards to identify opportunities where Core Knowledge content and the state standards align.

Although some Core Knowledge content needed to be moved in certain grades to better align with grade-level expectations set by the state standards, the revised cumulative sequence continues to advance knowledge building.

Outstanding Content Integration Across Subjects

Teaching domain content in context not only makes the learning more meaningful, but enables teachers to cover content and skills simultaneously. For example, in a Kindergarten math lesson, students were observed completing a measurement activity that used examples, such as the Eiffel Tower, which aligned with their geography unit on the seven continents. After guiding students through a lesson on percentages, a sixth grade math teacher posed the following question:

“What percentage of the Ancient Roman Senate were involved in the conspiracy to kill Julius Caesar?”

In order to solve this question, students needed to recall the number of conspirators and the total number of senators.

Integration of English Language Arts Skills

The writing artifacts shared and posted around the school as well as the observed writing instruction clearly indicated that teachers at Grayhawk Elementary School make an effort to integrate Core Knowledge content with English Language Arts skills.

For example:

  • Second grade students were observed completing a Venn diagram that compared the New Year celebration in the U.S. to China.
  • Sixth grade students were observed working on a multifaceted project that included a written description of a specific Roman/Greek god/goddess
  • Sampling of posted student work:
    • Second grade students wrote descriptive paragraphs about specific Greek gods/goddesses.
    • Third grade students created “graphic novels” depicting the tale of Romulus and Remus.
    • First grade students wrote about their own famous invention after learning about Thomas Edison’s contribution to the invention of the light bulb.

“Having fifth and sixth graders who are on the tail end, I can see the benefit of core knowledge and appreciate the building they have done year after year in certain topics. They have a deeper understanding of history and social studies which translates to writing and critical thinking.”

Grayhawk Elementary School Parent

Collaboration Across the Community

Dedicated teachers, parents and other Grayhawk Elementary community members eagerly adopted the Core Knowledge approach to ensure a cohesive and comprehensive education for all students.

Grade-Level Planning Sessions

The school’s schedule affords opportunities for daily planning, and the majority of staff members regularly collaborates. Each teacher applied their own style, but shared student-facing resources. For example, students within a grade level were observed studying the same topic and completing the same activities.

Committed and Engaged Parents

Parent engagement and commitment to Core Knowledge is evident at Grayhawk Elementary. Each grade level hosts events and participates in field trips that align to Core Knowledge content. Parents and other members of the school community are often invited to join in the fun.

The 2019 academic calendar included:

  • PreKindergarten: “Little Red Hen” Puppet Show
  • Kindergarten: Field trip to the Musical Instrument Museum
  • Grade 1: Multiple AZ Puppet Theater shows
  • Grade 2: Greek Olympics; Asian Festival; Field Trip to Pioneer Village
  • Grade 3: Roman Festival; Wildlife presentations and/or Field Trip
  • Grade 4: Medieval Feast; Field trip to Kartchner Caverns
  • Grade 5: Wax Museum
  • Grade 6: Greek Olympics; Immigration simulation; Trip to Catalina (oceanography)

The Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) also supports Core Knowledge initiatives. This year, the PTO led Grayhawk Elementary’s largest fundraiser to date, where over $60,000 was raised. Part of the funds will be used to support Core Knowledge implementation, including providing students with access to hands on materials, field trips that align with Core Knowledge content, and professional development for teachers.

“Grayhawk Elementary teachers do an amazing job making learning fun. They take the Core Knowledge curriculum to the highest levels through projects, stories, and fun filled events. My three children amaze me every day when they tell me the things they are learning in school. Their vocabulary and knowledge of the topics blows me away. I can’t say enough great things about what the school is doing every day.”

Grayhawk Elementary School Parent

Visit Grayhawk Elementary School

To learn techniques and processes for implementing our approach at your school, consider a visit to Grayhawk Elementary School. Check out their Facebook page and the Grayhawk Elementary website to learn more and plan your visit.