Lower School » Classrooms

Classrooms

Being a school who services elementary-age children, we recognize the important role of the classroom teacher, and the important role they have in the lives of their students.

Small Class Sizes

How children learn is as important as what they learn. Our smaller class size enables our teachers to know our students and to know how they learn. Our teachers care about our students and provide many opportunities for them to be stretched in their learning. We work diligently to differentiate the curriculum to meet the needs of our students, ensuring they feel safe and valued at our school.

 

Reading and Writing Workshop

This approach to reading and writing allows for each of our students to be challenged in a way that is appropriate for them. The lessons begin with a short whole class lesson to ensure that everyone is being exposed to the content they need for their grade. However, instead of the majority of the time being spent on the same book or step in the writing process, students spend most of the lesson working at their own independent level. Teachers then confer with students to measure progress, offer coaching, and set goals.

A central component of this model is academic choice. Within the framework of certain units and assignments, each student is allowed to invest in their learning by choosing what they are reading or writing. Research shows that children who personally invest in their learning will have a more meaningful experience and will better retain what they have learned.

 

Language Arts

In addition to Reading and Writing workshop, we have other components of our language arts program. In grades K – 3 students engage in a multisensory approach to phonics-based learning. Then in grades 4 and 5 students transition to a study of Latin-based words. All teachers also use mentor sentences to discuss and teach grammar. In Kindergarten, students use Handwriting without Tears to learn in a clear and interactive manner how to form their letters and numbers. Then in grade 2, students begin to learn to write in cursive and continue to practice that through the higher grades.

 

Student Led Conferences

We strive to have students from an early age engage in ownership of their educational experience. That is why in all classes we focus on cultivating a growth mindset and working with students to set goals and then to evaluate their progress towards them. Beginning in grade 2, students take an active role in their conferences and share with their parents their success in the previous trimester, in addition to goals they have in the coming part of the year. Our students understand themselves as learners and begin to learn how to involve others in their education.

 

Long-Term Projects

In each grade, students engage in at least one long-term project. This involves the student selecting a topic they want to research and present within a given area. These typically last for two or more weeks and engage students in developing their executive functioning as they learn to manage their time, organize materials, and carry work between school and home. At the end, students present both to their peers in class, and also to the larger school community and to parents and other adults.