Academics at Sequoia


Sequoia is a wonderful place for children to learn. It’s a place where parents, teachers, students and the community all work together to ensure that our children love learning and are happy with who they are. Sequoia Elementary offers a varied, exciting curriculum including individual and group learning in a supportive environment. Sequoia’s basic academic curriculum is determined by state curriculum standards in Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies. As we follow the guidelines outlined in the District Content Standards, we continually reflect, establish and maintain a comprehensive and ongoing strategy to improve curriculum and instruction.

Reading and Language Arts

Like other Oakland public schools, Sequoia uses the very successful Open Court reading/language arts program as a base for instruction in the primary grades. This comprehensive program covers phonemic awareness, phonics and word recognition, spelling and writing through literature, as well as coordinated social studies, and science activities. Open Court encourages the inquiry process for learning concepts and discovering new ideas through research. Upper grades continue with the study of morphology and delve deeper into literature by reading quality children’s literature and having classroom discussions of the author’s craft. All children go through the writing process of brainstorm, draft and revision many times per year. Students read and write in a variety of genres and for varied purposes. Much of the curriculum in Social Studies is covered through literature, as well as non-fiction reading and writing.


Sequoia has been participating in a special Math Cohort since 2012-13. We are working closely with district math coaches to implement the new Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. As a result, we have adopted school-wide practices such as Number Talks and encouraging students to focus more on their reasoning than just getting the correct answer. We believe that using strategies such as mental math and different patterns and routines helps as they make the transition from understanding concrete mathematical concepts to understanding more abstract concepts necessary for grasping algebra.


Sequoia uses the FOSS (Full Option Science System) program to meet the state and district science standards. The FOSS program was developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science and involves hands-on collaborative learning experiences.  Thanks to the generosity of our own FOSS (Friends of Sequoia School), we have science specialists who work with K-5 students to lead in-depth science activities.

Social Skills

Sequoia places a great emphasis on developing pro-social skills and attitudes in all of our students. We use a variety of tools to accomplish this: Caring School Community, Second Step, Responsive Classrooms and Tribes, to name a few. These programs focus on helping students develop empathy, impulse control, and anger management. In the classroom, students use lessons to practice the skills necessary to develop the high level of social skills our children need to be successful in our world.

Within this framework, our multi-talented teachers create their own curriculum, developing innovative learning plans. All students are provided with a broad-based, integrated curriculum. We emphasize developing a student’s high level of thinking skills through the application of skills and personal knowledge. A variety of teaching strategies are used including whole class and small group instruction, ability grouping, cooperative learning groups and team teaching. Parents are encouraged to review their child’s grade-level standards, as teachers will be referring to the standards throughout the year.

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