Don Benito Fundamental School’s Curriculum

Don Benito Fundamental School (DBFS) uses curriculum that will lend itself to the teaching of the National Common Core Standards as specified by the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) for use at all of its elementary schools in language arts, math, science, social studies, music, and art. Don Benito provides additional arts instruction in conjunction with the Armory Center for the Arts, and the My Masterpieces art program, which—through projects and field trips—connects the rich arts resources in Pasadena to student learning. The goal is to create critical thinkers who will be ready to enter the digital world of the 21st century.


iReady and Ready Math by Curriculum Associates:

This program has a consumable and online component. The lessons in Ready Mathematics use a research-based, proven-effective, gradual-release instructional model with a balance of conceptual understanding and procedural fluency to build confidence and mastery of the Common Core Math Standards. At the beginning of the year, all students are assessed with a diagnostic that indicates the student’s current level. This allows teachers to focus on particular skills or reteach skills that students may not have mastered in earlier grade levels with access to all K–8 student and teacher lessons. The program has a component that focuses on instruction with classroom and small-group activities that give teachers best-practice models for teaching a skill. Students are engaged with the use of technology and guided interactive tutorials to reinforce understanding. Students are on Chrome books completing iReady problems for no more than 45 minutes per week while teachers work with small groups of students. Teachers progress monitor frequently to differentiate instruction.

Math Club

4th and 5th graders have the opportunity to participate in the Math Club led by one of our resource teachers. This club offers acceleration of math concepts to further challenge and engage our advanced students. Students have the option of taking an assessment that will determine eligibility for the Math Field Day teams. The Math Field Day competition is typically on one Saturday in late March or early April.

English Language Arts

Balanced Literacy Approach

This approach to teaching literacy ensures that our students are challenged appropriately at their individual reading levels. Every teacher will assess their students to determine their independent reading level at least 3 times a year. The reading levels are on a continuum from Level Pre-A (before Kinder) to Level Z (8th grade). You will see our teachers working in small groups, students in flexible seating and students reading for fun! Each classroom has a classroom library of 375 books. During Guided Reading instruction, teachers work in small groups of no more than 6 students with similar reading levels while other students are in small groups doing writing, word work, independent reading, reading with a partner, or at a listening center. The books our teachers use for guided reading groups are found in our Leveled Book Room (Room 30A) with over 5,000 books! Teachers will be using these books to teach skills and address standards.


STEMScopes by Accelerated Learning

PUSD partners with the leading scientific institutions located in the Pasadena area to enhance science instruction in the classroom. The Kindergarten-5th grade science program is aligned with the California standards and introduces students to facts, concepts, principles, theories and experimentation skills through Physical, Earth and Life Science classes. In sixth grade, students learn Earth Sciences, and in seventh grade, they learn Life Sciences, which includes health education. In eighth grade, students focus on Physical Science. High school science consists of content strands in Earth Sciences, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Advanced Placement, or college-level courses, are offered in Chemistry and other subjects.

STEMscopes K-12 creates a student-centric blended STEM learning environment where teachers are able to teach, intervene, and accelerate their diverse students. This Next Generation Science Standards aligned curriculum provides teachers and students with digital resources, supplemental print, and hands-on kits to adapt to individual teaching styles while increasing engagement, rigor and student achievement. This program uses the 5E model (engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate). Parent and student resources are also available in Spanish for K-5.

Science Center

The Science Center is where students have the opportunity for hands-on experiments related to the science curriculum. Students are guided in the development of problem-solving and scientific thinking skills as they apply the scientific method to both prepared experiments and those of their own creation. It is our goal that all students attend science lab at least once a month.

Social Studies

Don Benito is using the social studies curriculum published by Houghton Mifflin. More specific and detailed information about social studies content for each grade level can be found in the content standards published on the California State Board of Education website.


Chrome books:

As an academic institution, we recognize the negative ramifications of excessive exposure to computers or “screen time.” Students in the classroom are not on chrome books at the same time unless they are taking an assessment online. Our goal is to integrate technology into core curriculum in an authentic setting and foster digital citizenship while using chrome books as a tool for learning. Students who do not follow the technology expectations as outlined in the PUSD Parent-Student Handbook will lose their privilege.

Don Benito is fully-equipped with a 1:1 chrome book to student ratio.

Instruction integrates technology with grade-level curriculum and standards.

Students learn:

• Technical skills—such as how to operate a computer and use various software packages for report, analysis, and presentation purposes;
• Research skills;
• Coding and keyboarding skills.

Students also have the opportunity to apply these skills toward the projects they are working on in their classes.

Physical Education

SPARK and Peaceful Playground

The SPARK Physical Education curriculum is research-based proven effective to promote physical activity and nutrition. This curriculum engages our kids through dance, movement, games and organized sports while ensuring that our students are learning the importance of safety.

To further promote physical activity and reduce behavior issues, our school offers Peaceful Playground where children play games with the permanent templates painted on our upper playground.

PE instruction occurs only with the first 2 hours of the day due to excessive heat. Additionally, research shows that students are more focused and ready to learn after performing physical activity.


Don Benito Electives:

Don Benito teachers in grades 5 will be adding electives to their weekly instruction. The students will select electives each trimester. Electives will vary, but may include: Newspaper writing/ Journalism, Intro to Spanish, Dance and Movement, Chess, Drama, etc…

Social-Emotional Learning

Second-Step Curriculum by Committee for Children

This universal, classroom-based program is designed to teach children how to understand and manage their emotions, control their reactions, be aware of others’ feelings, and have the skills to problem-solve and make responsible decisions. Each grade-level kit includes easy-to-teach, short weekly lessons, engaging songs and games, and daily activities and take-home materials to reinforce learning.

Toward No Tobacco Use: For grades 4-5 ONLY

Towards No Tobacco Use (TNT) is an age-appropriate tobacco prevention curriculum proven effective in reducing tobacco use and experimentation among pre-teens. This curriculum was approved by Pasadena Unified School District to teach students to prevent tobacco use. The program’s main emphasis is on changing perceptions of immediate physical consequences of use, changing normative beliefs and perceptions of prevalence of use, and teaching decision-making, effective communication and assertive refusal skills to increase self-efficacy to not begin use. Additionally, students learn active listening skills, ways to build self-esteem and effective communication skills.

7 Habits of Happy Kids, by Sean Covey

Last year, our students read this book that explains the 7 Habits of Happy Kids though the fantastic stories of the 7 Oaks Gang. The seven habits are: (1) be proactive, (2) begin with the end in mind, (3) put first things first, (4) think win-win, (5) seek first to understand, then be understood, (6) synergize, and (7)sharpen the saw. To reinforce and promote these 7 habits, our students earned “golden tickets” for exhibiting the habit of the month.

Have you Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids Bucket by Carol McCloud

This year, DBFS is adding an additional layer to its social skills curriculum with Carol McCloud’s Bucket Filling Basics. Our students will learn that everyone has an invisible bucket. Your bucket holds your good thoughts and feelings about yourself. When it’s full, you are happy and when it’s empty, you feel sad and lonely. We want our kids to learn to fill other people’s buckets by being caring to someone, saying or doing something kind, or even giving someone a smile. In turn, they fill their own buckets. On the other hand, we can dip into others’ buckets by making fun of someone, by saying mean things, or even by ignoring someone. The great news is that we all have a lid. Your lid is the thoughtful, clear-thinking part of you that protects what’s in your bucket. It allows you to understand that when other people dip by being uncaring or mean to anyone, they are the ones who have the problem. Our goal is to encourage our kids to be bucket fillers.


Don Benito Fundamental School, 3700 Denair St., Pasadena, (626) 396-5870 or visit







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