Teachers work hard to develop positive connections with each of their students and their families. They take the time to know their students, in order to better support them in the classroom. At the beginning of each school year, teachers build a supportive and safe community within their classroom so everyone can learn and is respected. This sense of community is strengthened throughout the year utilizing Responsive Classroom techniques. In addition to implementing Responsive Classroom methods to support students’ social and emotional growth, all grade levels also implement the Second Step curriculum. Second Step is a universal, classroom-based program 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.
Elementary students receive standards-based instruction in all academic areas. The majority of reading instruction is done in small, individualized, ability based, guided reading groups. These groups are flexible and frequently adjusted based upon student achievement. The books used for Guided Reading are leveled according to the Fountas and Pinnell leveling system and are selected based on student interest and skill focus. Teachers use informal observation and Fountas and Pinnell’s Benchmark Assessment System to assess students’ mastery of reading standards. The Benchmark Assessment System provides teachers with student’s independent and instructional reading levels, assists teachers in creating guided reading groups and informs teachers on how to focus their instruction.
Teachers implement the Daily 5 framework to structure their literacy blocks. The Daily 5 is an effective management system for literacy blocks that allows teachers to meet with guided reading groups and individual students, while the rest of the class is engaging in meaningful, independent literacy activities. This framework also allows teachers time to teach brief, whole class focus lessons on specific English language arts strategies between each rotation of guided reading groups. These literacy activities include Read to Self, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, Work on Writing, and Word Work.
The Wilson Fundations program, partnered with the Daily 5 and guided reading, is used to teach reading and phonemic awareness in Grades K-2. Fundations is a phonological/phonemic awareness, phonics and spelling program developed for implementation in the general education classroom. Fundations serves as a prevention program to help reduce reading and spelling failure.
Teachers use the Empowering Writers writing program to assist in their writing instruction. This program allows students to write for a variety of purposes and audiences, and breaks writing down into manageable pieces, while providing clear expectations and guidelines. Students are encouraged to write across content areas, further developing their content knowledge and strengthening their ability to communicate ideas effectively.
The math curriculum at the elementary school is structured to ensure students’ mastery of the 2011 Massachusetts Frameworks. A strong foundation for number sense and problem solving strategies are built in the primary grades, and continue to grow and be applied to more complex problems and operations as students progress to upper grade levels. Teachers deliver their instruction in both whole class and small group formats, and students are given multiple opportunities to use their knowledge in problem-solving situations with cooperative groups. Teachers utilize Envisions Math 2.0 to support their mathematics instruction. The mathematical environment that is built in each classroom promotes higher-order mathematical thinking among all students.
Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, science instruction will be based on the 2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Framework. Instruction will be inquiry-based, investigative and hands-on, allowing students to discover science phenomena in the world. Teachers will implement the FOSS science program to support their instruction.
All classes use small group learning models as a means of differentiating instruction based on the abilities and needs of students within that one classroom. Students are placed in groups that remain flexible during the school year. Better differentiated learning occurs in the classroom with model lessons being provided for math centers, guided reading, literature circles, and hands-on learning approaches that meet the needs of each student. Student progress towards grade level standards is measured through a variety of ongoing assessment methods including informal observation, daily exit tickets/quick checks, end of unit common assessments, class work, as well as benchmark and diagnostic assessments. Students in all grades participate in both paper based and computer based testing throughout the year.
Students receive instruction in a specials area every day. Specials include art, music, physical education, library and technology. All specials curricular are aligned to state standards and promote student growth and mastery of course outlined expectations. Specialists collaborate with classroom teachers throughout the year to support cross-curricular transfer and application of knowledge.