Reading is taught through a balanced literacy program consisting of explicit instruction of strategies and skills, including phonemic instruction and whole language, which emphasizes comprehension and critical thinking. Mathematics is taught through hands-on activities using manipulatives, construction, games and computers, with pencil and paper reinforcement to build basic mathematical concepts, problem solving, applications, and computation.
Students are taught through direct instruction and reinforcement of phonics, introduced in pre-kindergarten, through second grade. They are instructed in vocabulary and word study which emphasizes roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Guided Reading is used to instruct and emphasize important reading strategies.
First Graders begin the year at varying levels–some are learning how to read, some have learned and are ready to build fluency, and some are reading fluently and may need a deeper dive into characters, storyline, and author intention. To support the varying levels, we offer a comprehensive curriculum. Phonemic Awareness is a foundation to reading and every child benefits from this instruction regardless of reading fluency. We offer instruction in phonics using a combination of Heggerty Curriculum and Wilson Fundations. With this instruction, children learn to decode, and then have the opportunity to unlock the joy of reading.
In both first and second grades, to build reading strategies, we use the Lucy Calkins curriculum, which is referred to as Reading and Writing Workshop. The Workshop model of instruction focuses on the work of the reader. Teachers model and teach directly the skills and strategies that proficient readers use. Students are taught that these strategies can be applied to many types of reading and therefore, students have the opportunity to self-select books and read a wide variety of text.
In both third and fourth grade, reading constitutes a large portion of the daily curriculum. Students continue their novel studies, but also read a large amount of non-fiction within their interdisciplinary units . Students in third grade read silently, in small groups, and out loud with the class. They participate in novel studies and literature circles to share ideas and analyze the novel together. A Roycemore third grader will spend an ample amount of time reading non-fiction within the themed units while learning to extract important information. He or she will study phonics, as well as whole word sight recognition.
The fourth grade students participate in reading workshop where students are given daily opportunities to read books that they choose on their individual reading level. In fourth grade, students focus on building background knowledge of text structures, stories, and language. Through weekly conferencing, students are given specific feedback to support their reading development. Reading strategies are modeled and demonstrated in mini-lessons and reinforced during weekly individual student-teacher conferences. Students write thoughtful responses about their reading in a journal, and assume different roles for discussion in literature circles during the year. Vocabulary development, comprehension, study and research skills, and literary appreciation are all included in the fourth grade program.
Writing is an important part of the language arts program. Cursive is introduced in 2nd grade and instruction continues in 3rd and 4th. In Grades 1-4, using the Writing Workshop Model students explore a variety of writing formats, including creative writing, narratives, expository writing, biographical sketches, book reports and poems. Paragraph construction and the writing process are emphasized. In first grade writing, the students write and illustrate journals. They also learn to write a good sentence and a paragraph. By the end of the year, they learn to do research and create a book from what they have learned. In second grade, the students review what makes a good sentence and develop the skills for creating different kinds of good paragraphs. They too journal everyday and continue to research, culminating in a mini-research paper/book and presentation of a rainforest animal. By third grade, writing is approached from several directions. First, students review basic rules of grammar and spend some time understanding what makes a complete sentence. They then review the structure of a paragraph. Finally, they learn to write a variety of multi-paragraph essays. The students also write in their composition notebooks taking an exploratory approach to three genres: Personal Narratives, Opinion Pieces, and Research. Throughout the year students write to share ideas about books they are reading, write responses to current events, as well as write multi-paragraph essays for many of the themed unit
In the Fourth Grade “Writing Workshop,” students write and rehearse, draft, revise, conference, edit, and publish their own writing. Mini-lessons are used to introduce the structure and grammar of our language; the student’s own writing provides the basis for practicing these skills. Students refine cursive writing skills and develop a legible, individual style.
Mathematics is taught through hands-on activities using manipulatives, construction, games and computers, with pencil and paper reinforcement to build basic mathematical concepts, problem solving, applications, and computation. Instruction occurs through whole class grouping, small groups, and on an individual basis. Through differentiation, students are challenged at their own levels of mathematic achievement by both vertical acceleration and by extension projects for those students who pretest out of a concept. To support the belief that each child should be taught on his or her own level of instruction, there is a “Math Block” (of time) where students in First through Fourth Grade are taught math on a First Through Sixth Grade level. Within each level students focus on strengthening their creative thinking and reasoning skills through conversations and problem solving. Students are urged to make sense of problems and persevere through challenges by attending to precision. They share their thoughts and solutions with their peers. Students are asked to demonstrate conceptual understanding of skills, as well as achieve computational fluency. We teach traditional math through a math series four days a week. On Thursdays, students participate in real-life math applications. We call these, Investigative Thursdays that provide extensions to concepts being taught in class. Students might be baking, creating a STEM project, or building. Other projects can be related to current events or incorporating technology through lessons, hands-on applications and final products. The idea is that they are exposed to how math is evident in all aspects of their lives both inside and outside of the classroom.
In our Lower School, we strive to help children develop self-esteem and lifelong learning skills in a safe, nurturing and diverse community. Each student’s personal success is ensured through a stimulating and personalized college-preparatory curriculum focusing on the growth of the mind as a whole.