Our workshop approach, content areas and innovation class
The Balanced Literacy Approach
Our Language Arts curriculum is grounded in the balanced literacy approach, which teaches children to read and write using a variety of different learning and grouping opportunities. Students read and write in large amounts on a daily basis, with varying levels of support. Tasks are modeled by the teacher, supported by the teacher or completed independently with the teacher as a guide. In addition to the Reading and Writing Workshops below, students receive daily instruction in Word Study (phonics/spelling), interactive read-alouds and shared reading and writing.
Our Reading Workshop approach teaches key reading behaviors and deep comprehension strategies using a predictable structure with direct reading instruction and time for student practice. Every day, the Workshop consists of:
- a mini-lesson on a specific reading skill or strategy.
- an independent reading time when students read independently, with a partner at their reading level or one-on-one with teachers.
- a "share" time when students present their hard work to their peers.
In addition to one-on-one conferences during Reading Workshop, students meet in small groups with teachers to work on specific strategies to become better readers. The Workshop provides students with the instruction they need to improve how they decode or read words, building their comprehension of stories and their love of reading!
Our Writing Workshop is a rigorous curriculum that gives students the chance to develop strong writing skills, which will arm them with unbelievable power as readers, thinkers and makers of meaning. Every day, our students attend the Writing Workshop, where they learn new writing strategies and practice ones that have already been introduced. The daily Workshop consists of:
- a mini-lesson with 10 minutes of direct, explicit teacher instruction.
- a highly structured, responsive environment for drafting and revising writing in ways that incorporate the day’s instruction.
- an individual or small group conference with the teacher for guidance.
- a chance to follow-up with an ‘After the Workshop’ share about the day’s topic.
By creating an inviting environment with an abundance of supplies and giving students the freedom to write about what matters to them, we hope they will love to write.
Our Math Workshop encourages students to be mathematicians who investigate the big ideas of mathematics from Day 1. Curiosity and engagement are hallmarks of our teaching. Throughout our daily Math Workshops, students:
- use manipulatives to explore attributes of objects, likenesses and differences, the baseline for all problem solving.
- focus on deep understanding of small numbers, which enables them to work with larger numbers.
- discover shapes and space in their environment, applying their knowledge of attributes to measure width, length, weight and capacity.
Our students pursue mathematics with positive attitudes because they believe everyone can and must do mathematics.
Content Area Studies
Our Content Area Studies (primarily science and social studies) use inquiry-based learning to give students the opportunity to immerse, investigate and unite through collaboration. To accomplish this work, students use a variety of skills like:
- comprehension lessons that prepare students to research and think deeply about a subject, while identifying their own interests, questions and wonderings.
- collaboration where students learn from one another, share in learning processes and develop as problem solvers, teammates and communicators!
- open-ended inquiry projects where students follow their natural curiosities to develop questions, plan for research and present their findings to a group.
Our Innovation Class is room to play, have fun and learn by making things. During three 45-minutes classes each week, students make, create and invent with all sorts of materials—blocks of all kinds, Legos, Magna-Tiles, cardboard, sticks, straws, etc. Every week, students work on a designated project or challenge like building:
- houses for the Three Little Pigs.
- bridges for the Billy Goats Gruff.
- roadways over, around and through obstacles to travel within the classroom.
- tall towers—then even taller towers!
Students share, photograph, write about, draw and discuss what they make. They learn how to find and develop ideas, problem solve, collaborate, share and show off what they've made. Students learn by making.