Want a taste of the school? See the 1st-2nd class slideshow of this past school year.2019-20-End-of-Year-Slideshow
At the heart of the Village School education we nurture a sense of belonging and community. Within the multi-age classroom children build their understanding of what it means to be in community together. Learning to share ideas, listen to classmates, and support one another’s thinking are all skills that are modeled and developed within our daily morning meetings, group discussions and games, and partner work. Children are given opportunities to work collaboratively, learn how to compromise and cooperate on tasks. The children begin to develop responsibility and respect for their materials and the classroom by completing Room Jobs every day. They work with a partner and jobs rotate weekly.
This year’s theme Massachusetts: Now and Then, is a place-based exploration intended to help the children discover and solidify their understanding of where they live and go to school in relation to the bigger world. At the beginning of the year we’ll learn about and create a variety of maps. We’ll discover and make connections to a number of Massachusetts’ special places and landmarks. Then we’ll look back at how Massachusetts came to be. We’ll learn about the history of the physical land, the native people who inhabited the area and the European settlers who came to its shores. We’ll study the ways of life of the early settlers, including how they dressed, what their homes were like, what kinds of food they ate and what children did for fun. We’ll read stories, create art projects, and do some cooking. We’ll look at local historical artifacts and visit Old Sturbridge Village to experience first-hand what life was like in olden days. The Quabbin Reservoir is also a strong focus for understanding how places change over time.
During Reader’s Workshop children are introduced to decoding strategies that will move them to fluent reading as well as encourage them to pay attention to their thinking while reading. Students are given time to engage with books each day. They begin to spend time reading independently and meet with their teacher weekly for individual instruction. A majority of their time is spent reading Just Right books. These books help them practice and develop skills, and offer the right challenge to extend their learning. Through partner reading and small reading groups, students are given time to engage in conversations about their books, deepening their engagement with the texts and helping them to develop their comprehension skills. Children carry their books home in their book bags each day.They are encouraged to read at home for 15 minutes every day in their just right books. Reading with your child and having conversations about their books will enhance their reading experience and help them to grow as readers. Read aloud and weekly oral stories give children the opportunity to engage in literature beyond their reading level. These stories are often connected to our theme.
Phonics and Word Study
Word Study is a time for students to practice building English language skills. We use a combination of the Fountas-Pinnell program Phonics Lessons, Orton-Gillingham strategies, and Words Their Way. Students learn word-solving strategies by studying letter sound relationships, spelling patterns, and word structure as well as word meaning and vocabulary building. Children learn in small groups based on their developmental needs. A component of word study is spelling. During spelling students learn a range of approaches to help them learn how to use their letter/sound knowledge to spell words and they learn how to study for a quiz. Word work helps students to increase their sight word knowledge and serves as a bridge between best choice spelling and conventional spelling.
In Writer’s workshop students think about the stories they have, and learn to communicate with others through their writing and drawing. Each child receives a journal in which they respond to writing or drawing prompts. Their journals are also a place to gather ideas for future writing. Children begin to learn the technical aspects of writing while also learning to express themselves in the written language, plan and craft writing pieces, explore different types of writing and to begin to edit and revise their writing. Because it is important for students to let their writing flow and get their thoughts on paper, they are encouraged to use their best choice for spelling. Teaching students a variety of strategies to spell unknown words empowers them to record their stories onto paper. Some units of study for this year are: Small Moment Stories, Poetry, and Non-Fiction Reports. Handwriting is taught using the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, which uses a multi-sensory approach.
The Investigations math curriculum offers students opportunities to have multiple experiences with mathematical concepts through games and other hands-on activities. The students work together to construct understanding and have a true sense of ownership of mathematical strategies and ideas. Children are encouraged to use multiple strategies to solve problems and engage with peers to stretch their thinking. The mathematical strands of number sense, geometry, data, and measurement are woven through the year. Second grade students receive nightly homework assignments that reinforce math concepts explored in the classroom. First grade students will occasionally take home games or other homework sheets to solidify skills they are mastering in class.
Art is integrated throughout the curriculum. The class also has a full session with the art teacher on Thursday mornings. The goal is for children to feel successful with new experiences and materials, to have fun, and to spark creativity in a non-verbal way. Children will explore making two-dimensional and three-dimensional pieces with a variety of media including watercolor, clay, and fabric. Art lessons often integrate the class theme.
Children begin the year singing seasonal songs, songs about growing, and favorite well-known songs in Spanish and English. Throughout the year, movements, dances, and rhythm instruments such as drums, maracas, and rain sticks will accompany many of the songs. Second grade students will participate in weekly recorder lessons. Students should practice recorder 5 minutes a day at home – it makes a big difference in their progress.
The focus in science is connecting children with the natural world, building observational skills, doing hands-on experiments and introducing some basic scientific concepts. The students will use a number of types of scientific equipment during class including magnifying glasses, dissection microscopes, compound microscopes, plant presses, and thermometers. The science curriculum is planned throughout kindergarten to 6th grade so topics are introduced during an appropriate theme and developmental stage. Our lessons will follow the seasons and integrate with our theme study by looking at how people completed certain tasks without modern technology. This year we will be doing our “My Tree” project. The student selects a specific tree to observe throughout the school year. We will make a leaf collection, bark rubbings, make observations throughout the year, and build fairy or gnome houses. Some other topics of study will include natural dyes, herbs, light, and a beginning look at the solar system and the moon.
Recess and Physical Education
Recess is emphasized as a time of great learning – physical, emotional and social. Since most of the school day is structured, recess gives the children a blank canvas for imaginative and physical play together. Teachers are present and encourage children to find solutions together when differences arise. The Friday session of Physical Education provides an opportunity for children to engage in a longer session of activity such as hiking, soccer, cross-country skiing and swimming. We have Yoga class on Friday mornings during which children learn mindfulness and poses for strength and balance.
If you have any further questions or concerns regarding the 1st and 2nd classroom, or your child, please email Myra and Sonya or call the school if you would like to arrange a meeting with us.