CP, CE1, CE2
The Basic Learning Cycle
Learning at school means questioning the world. It also means acquiring specific languages, acquisitions for which the simple fact of growing up is not enough. Cycle 2 covers the period from CP to CE2, thus offering the necessary duration and coherence for progressive and demanding learning.
In cycle 2, all the lessons question the world. The mastery of languages, and in particular the French language, is central. The acquisition of fundamental knowledge (reading, writing, counting, respecting others) is the priority. Teaching must be particularly structured and explicit. It is a question of giving meaning to learning, but it is also necessary to consider its progression.
Children arriving in cycle 2 are very different from one another. They have grown up and learnt in different family and school contexts which strongly influence learning and their pace. The class is therefore organised around constant repetition of knowledge being acquired and differentiation of learning.
It is also a question of taking into account the particular educational needs of certain pupils (newly arrived allophone pupils, those with disabilities, those experiencing significant difficulties in entering the written word, those entering school for the first time, etc.), who require appropriate educational adjustments.
In cycle 2, meaning and automaticity are constructed simultaneously. Comprehension is essential for the development of solid knowledge that pupils can reinvest and the automation of certain skills is the means of freeing up cognitive resources so that they can access more elaborate operations and comprehension.
All subjects are concerned. In mathematics, for example, understanding the various operations is essential for the development of this knowledge, which pupils reinvest. At the same time, immediately available knowledge (such as the results of multiplication tables) considerably improves ‘intelligent calculation’ skills, where pupils understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. In questioning the world, the construction of temporal reference points follows the same logic: their understanding linked to explicit learning gradually enables them to use them spontaneously.
In cycle 2, the French language is the central learning object. The construction of automation and meaning are two necessary dimensions of language mastery. Mastery of all grapheme-phoneme correspondences, from letters or groups of letters to sounds and vice versa, is an essential challenge in learning French.
Fluid reading, which must be acquired in CP, is the essential condition for good understanding of texts.
Reading is constantly linked to writing and gradually to vocabulary, grammar and spelling. Language is a tool for all learning. The versatility of the teachers makes it possible to encourage cross-fertilisation between the different areas of teaching, with regular feedback on basic learning. It allows for the development of projects in which pupils use the French language as a tool for communication, first orally and then in writing, with real people, reporting on visits, experiences and research.
In cycle 2, the concrete and the abstract are articulated. Observing and acting, manipulating, experimenting, all these activities lead to representation, whether analogical (drawings, images, diagrams) or symbolic, abstract (numbers, concepts).
In cycle 2, there is a significant gap between oral and written language. What a pupil is capable of understanding and producing orally is of a much higher level than what he or she is capable of understanding and producing in writing. However, oral and written language are closely linked and, from the first grade, pupils have access to written material, both in production and in reading. The gap between oral and written language is particularly important in the learning of modern languages.
Cycle 2 helps to lay the groundwork for the initial development of pupils’ competence in several languages, initially in oral language. The teaching and learning of a modern language, whether foreign or regional, should put pupils in a position to practise the language and to reflect on it. Work on language and culture are inseparable.
In cycle 2, intuitive knowledge is still central. Outside school, in their families or elsewhere, children acquire knowledge in many areas: social (rules, conventions, customs), physical (knowledge of one’s body, movements), oral language and culture.
This knowledge contributes to the foundation of learning. Pupils are encouraged to understand what they know and can do and to use their thinking during learning time.
In cycle 2, students are taught to carry out fundamental school activities. These activities can be found in several lessons and will be found throughout the schooling: solving a problem, reading and understanding a document, writing a text, creating or designing an object. The links between these various fundamental school activities will be highlighted by the teachers who will underline the analogies, for example: solving a mathematical problem, implementing an investigative approach in science, understanding and interpreting a text in French, receiving a work of art.
In cycle 2, we learn to justify rationally. Pupils, in the context of an activity, know how to carry it out but also explain why and how they did it. They learn to justify their answers and approaches. This enables pupils to question and criticise what they have done, but also to appreciate what has been done by themselves or others. Media and information literacy prepares students for the exercise of judgment and the development of critical thinking.
CM1, CM2, 6ème
Cycle 3 links the last two years of primary school and the first year of lower secondary school, with the aim of strengthening pedagogical continuity and coherence of learning in the service of the acquisition of the common base of knowledge, skills and culture.
This cycle has a dual responsibility: to consolidate the acquisition of fundamental knowledge (reading, writing, counting, respecting others) which was begun in cycle 2 and which conditions subsequent learning; to allow for a better transition between primary school and lower secondary school by ensuring continuity and progressiveness between the three years of the cycle.
The program sets out the expectations at the end of the cycle and specifies the skills and knowledge worked on. Teaching must be structured, progressive and explicit. The learning methods must be differentiated according to the pace of acquisition of the pupils in order to promote their success.
For some subjects, the program provides programming guidelines to facilitate the distribution of teaching themes between the three years of the cycle, which can be adjusted according to the cycle’s pedagogical project or specific conditions (multi-grade classes, in particular).
The class of 6ème occupies a particular place in the cycle: it allows pupils to adapt to the rhythm, pedagogical organisation and living environment of the lower secondary school while continuing the learning undertaken in CM1 and CM2.
This cycle 3 programme thus allows for a gradual and natural entry into the knowledge constituted by the disciplines, but also into their specific languages, approaches and methods.
Taken care of at school by the same multi-skilled teacher who can thus work on acquisitions common to several subjects and establish links between the different areas of the common base, the teaching of this constituted knowledge is ensured in 6th grade by several teachers who are specialists in their subject and who contribute collectively, thanks to common themes and links established between subjects, to the acquisition of the skills defined by the base.
Cycle 3 is a consolidation cycle, the primary objective of which is to stabilise and consolidate for all pupils the fundamental learning undertaken in cycle 2. Cycle 2 enabled the acquisition of reading and writing of the French language.
Cycle 3 must consolidate these acquisitions in order to put them at the service of other learning in a broad and diversified use of reading and writing. Oral language, which also determines all learning, continues to be the subject of constant attention and specific work. In general, mastery of the language remains a central objective of cycle 3, which must ensure that all pupils have sufficient autonomy in reading and writing to enter cycle 4 with the necessary skills to continue their schooling.
Pupils begin learning a foreign or regional language in the first year of cycle 2. In cycle 3, this learning continues in order to reach a homogeneous level of competence in all language activities and to develop a greater mastery of some of them.
As far as scientific languages are concerned, cycle 3 continues the construction of whole numbers and their designation system, particularly for large numbers. It introduces knowledge of fractions and decimal numbers.
The four operations on numbers, without neglecting the memorisation of numerical facts and the automation of calculation procedures, are worked on throughout the cycle. The mathematical notions studied will take on their full meaning in the resolution of problems that justify their acquisition.
Cycle 3 also introduces all the elements that enable us to describe, observe and characterise the objects that surround us: geometric shapes, characteristic attributes, attached quantities, numbers and units that enable these quantities to be expressed. In a more specific way, the pupil acquires the bases of scientific languages that allow him/her to formulate and solve problems and to process data.
They are trained to use various representations of objects, experiments and natural phenomena (diagrams, observation drawings, models, etc.) and to organise data of various kinds using tables, graphs or diagrams which they are able to produce and use.
In the arts, in visual arts as well as in music education, cycle 3 marks the transition from activities serving mainly expressive objectives to the gradual investigation by pupils, through real practice, of the means, techniques and approaches of artistic creation. Pupils learn to master the codes of the artistic languages studied and thus develop an increased capacity for attention and sensitivity to productions. They meet the actors of creation and discover the places of creation.
The acquisition of a diversified and structured artistic culture is reinforced in cycle 3 by the introduction of art history teaching, which is transversal to the different lessons. Physical education and sport occupy an original place where the body, motor skills, action and self-commitment are at the heart of learning and make an essential contribution to health education.
Through confrontation with various motor problems and encounters with others, in different games and physical and sports activities, pupils continue to explore their motor possibilities in cycle 3 and reinforce their initial skills.
In all these languages, pupils are encouraged to express themselves and communicate. They are able to reflect on the choice and use of these. The French language and the foreign or regional language studied become an object of observation, comparison and reflection. Pupils acquire the ability to reason about language and to apply this reasoning to spelling, grammar and vocabulary. They also become aware of how to solve problems.
They are taught explicitly the strategies used to understand and develop metacognitive skills that enable them to choose the most appropriate working methods. Pupils become familiar with different documentary sources, learn to search for information and to question the origin and relevance of this information in the digital world. The processing and appropriation of this information is the subject of specific learning, linked to the development of reading and writing skills. By becoming more comfortable and confident, and by being able to think about how to learn and carry out the tasks required of them, pupils become more independent and better able to organise their personal work.
Cycle 2 allowed for a first stage of knowledge acquisition which continues in cycle 3 with the entry into the different disciplinary fields. Thus, history and geography make them aware of their place in the long history of humanity as well as in the different spaces they inhabit. Pupils discover how the historical approach can provide answers to questions and learn to distinguish between history and fiction. Geography enables them to move progressively from a personal and emotional representation of spaces to a more objective knowledge of the world by broadening their horizons and questioning the relationships of individuals and societies with places at different scales.
The aim of science and technology teaching in cycle 3 is to provide pupils with an initial scientific and technical culture that is essential for describing and understanding the world and the major challenges facing humanity.
Pupils learn to adopt a rational approach to the world by proposing explanations and solutions to scientific and technical problems. Situations where they mobilise knowledge and skills to carry out a complex task are gradually introduced.
In the arts, physical education, sport and literature, pupils are encouraged to discover and frequent a significant number of works and to link production and reception of works.
Cycle 3 thus develops and structures pupils’ ability to situate what they practice and to situate themselves in relation to artists’ productions. It guarantees the acquisition of a common physical, sporting and artistic culture.
More generally, in cycle 3, pupils gain access to more abstract thinking that encourages reasoning and its implementation in more complex tasks. They are encouraged to act responsibly and to cooperate in carrying out projects, to create and produce a significant amount of written work, and to carry out all kinds of projects.
Media and information literacy, which has been in place since cycle 2, enables pupils to become familiar with a questioning approach in the various fields of knowledge. They are led to develop a sense of observation, curiosity, critical thinking and, more generally, independent thinking.