Social and Emotional
Social and emotional growth is at the heart of learning. Life demands of us the ability to cooperate and work together, therefore RFCS students work in partnerships, small groups, whole class groups, and do some independent work. Grouping is flexible so that each member of the class gets to directly experience working with somebody different on various projects. Children are expected to use kind, clear, and respectful language when solving problems and working collaboratively. Students learn how to use “I” statements, establish their own rules and logical consequences, and use empowering language (say what you mean and mean what you say). In problem solving we move beyond the “I don’t like it when…” to include “And I hear that you felt or you thought…” which furthers active listening, democracy and compassion. Students learn to recognize each other as teachers in our morning meetings and in all curricular and social areas. Children act as stewards of their classroom, school, and community. As classroom community members, students each have their own cleaning and organization job in order to instill a sense of pride and ownership of their classroom.
Literacy looks different across the different age levels at Red Fox Community School. However, the essential concepts remain the same. Essential concepts of literacy include; What does it look like to be an active reader? How do we effectively communicate in writing and speaking? What do stories reveal about humanity, community, and place? and How do we tell engaging and meaningful stories? Students engage in weekly library sessions both at the Manchester Community Library and our own school library where students will develop independent reading skills. Our social studies focus impacts our literacy curriculum through the use of book choice, writing, and storytelling.
Kindergarten literacy curriculum is centered on skills required to becoming emergent readers. Literacy occurs within the daily activities of the classroom as children build listening skills, phonemic awareness, and oral language. Picture books are featured prominently in various areas of the classroom and embody children’s interests and ongoing investigations. Using Vivian Paley’s storytelling technique students will write and perform their own stories everyday and reflect on what makes a story interesting and how to achieve this in their own work.
First and Second Grade
First and second grade is when children learn how to read. Through guided instruction students work with texts such as Explode-the-Code and Wordly Wise to develop competency with sight words, digraphs, blends, vowel combinations and basic phonological patterns (i.e silent e and open and closed syllables). In the classroom we expand concepts of literacy by furthering understanding of phonemic awareness, fluency, reading comprehension and written language. Our literacy curriculum is story rich in order to foster a lifelong love of reading. Children learn to read with meaning by employing active reading strategies such as thinking aloud, making text-self connections, text-text connections, making mental images, inferring, asking questions and synthesizing information and plot sequences. In writing we practice language conventions (i.e writing complete sentences, basic punctuation and capitalization). Students explore different kinds of writing such as first hand narratives in their journals, informational texts about our thematic units, playwriting, poetry and storytelling. Using Handwriting Without Tears, students will develop fine motor skills as well as handwriting skills.
Third through Fifth Grade
Third through fifth graders expand their understanding of literacy by moving beyond the learning to read and learning to write stages as they are now ready to read to learn and write to teach and show understanding. They are able to digest more complex texts and can write about their reading. Third graders are expected to make connections, and predictions, as well as ask questions about the texts they read. Books read by 3rd through 5th graders include more complex vocabulary and characters are generally developed through their actions and thoughts, requiring the students to infer. The same connecting, predicting, questioning, and inferring skills are used in reading and writing about nonfiction texts in social studies and science. 3rd through 5th graders learn how to decipher non-fiction texts, use dictionaries and other reference materials to understand unfamiliar words and concepts, and synthesize research from different sources. They are expected to share new understandings in thoughtful written work and through presenting research orally independently and in groups and teams. This combination of written and oral work reinforces the social aspects of literacy as well as the important concept that writing and reading are meant to be forms of communication. Third graders will become expert expository paragraph writers, coming to understand persuasive, opinion, and informational writing as fourth and fifth graders are ready to write in an essay format. In 3rd grade cursive writing begins and is expected for 4th and 5th graders.
Children are natural problem solvers. Though math looks different across the different ages and stages of learning – finding and trying out effective strategies, constructing conceptual frameworks, and applying mathematics to everyday situations remains true for all. In math we explore essential questions like; What does it mean to be an effective problem solver? How can shapes be broken into similar parts? How do numbers make patterns? and How can we use math to solve everyday problems? Math is integrated into our social studies curriculum.
Kindergarteners are striving to build their understanding of the Base-10 Number System. They work on developing strategies for accurately counting. In kindergarten we study both 2 and 3 dimensional shapes and build up concepts of how shapes are composed. Through a carefully constructed block curriculum students are able to have first hand experience with measurement, fractions, stability, architecture, symmetry, and balance which will further their mathematical thinking. They practice the counting sequence both forward and backward and with keeping track of sets of objects. Kindergarteners make an effort to connect number names to number symbols and recognize patterns that help them to construct and read numbers fluently. Children in kindergarten are encouraged to explain their thinking verbally and to represent their thinking on paper.
First and Second Grade
First and second graders are ready to further develop their sense of number. They investigate concepts of geometry, measurement and data, number and operations in base ten, and algebraic thinking. Topics include place value, time, money, order of operations, basic fractions, geometric shapes, and for the older children multiplication. Building on concepts of measurement and data collection students calculate distances and speed in order to further our study of time. Everyday students use math centers that ask them to be problem solvers. Our ultimate goal is to think about math in our everyday lives and investigate strategies about how to solve problems mathematically. Students investigate open-ended questions and are expected to show their thinking mathematically through diagrams, estimation, charts, and basic computation.
Third through Fifth Grade
Big topics of study in 3rd through 5th grade include place value, multiplication & division, fractions & decimals, and 3D geometry, just to name a few. As they are introduced to new topics in math and are expected to reference their past math experiences as well. Third through fifth graders think about how to use math in their lives at home as well as in their other areas of study at school. Some examples of this work include: using area, perimeter, and volume to help in the construction of buildings, using division to organize and plan research topics fairly, fractions and decimals help in deciphering data in science and social studies. They are expected to approach math with an excitement for new ideas. Third through fifth graders are exposed to open ended projects and are given materials to use trial and error problem solving and come up with their own ideas and strategies for solving problems. This ability to try out strategies and reflect on them leads to the ability to be able to come up with the right questions when real world math problems arise.
Social Studies and Science
Science and social studies are integrated into all academic areas. Our science and social studies curriculum is rooted in both the community and the physical place. Social studies topics vary from year to year but include an emphasis on ethics, social justice and environmental stewardship. Topics are taught in a manner that is reflective of child development. Integration of our natural surroundings is key to achieving these goals. As part of their science and social studies learning students have ample time outdoors in order to have direct experience with the natural sciences and become immersed in ecology. We consider human health, community health, ecological health and personal health as part of our ongoing investigation into what engaged citizenship means and looks like. Art is integrated into our social studies and science curriculum and students have opportunities each day for artistic expression.