LANGUAGE ARTS & MATH
Language arts: the most central of elementary school skills
All parents and teachers want their children to master reading and writing, as well as good communication skills. To assure that every child at Peregrine School reaches his/her full potential in language arts, at least an hour per day is designated to this subject, and, in addition, reading, writing, and speaking are incorporated across the curriculum as part of project based learning. During the language arts period each morning, students work at their individual level within a shared context. The Columbia Reading and Writing Project is highly respected nationally, and is used as our basic format. It corresponds to the new national Common Core Standards, so that by using it, Peregrine School also complies to these standards.
Skill Based Reading: Each student is tested individually for his/her reading level at the beginning of the school year and at the end of each trimester as needed. (First semester kindergarten students are an exception, since basic reading skills are taught to everyone at this level.) During silent reading time, students read both fiction and nonfiction books which are sorted or “leveled” to match a variety of levels from A-Z. Each student can choose books at his/her appropriate reading level, and can move up to a higher level when reading skills at that level are achieved. Research on reading shows that students learn to read faster when they can choose what to read, as long as what they read is at a level they can comprehend independently. Teachers move between students to check their progress, students read to peers, and mini-lessons are designed for individual students and/or the whole group to introduce reading skills and challenges.
Integrated Reading: Throughout the grades, students not only do free reading but experience readings, both individual and group, which support project themes. By the 5-6 grade, most reading assignments are integrated with the history themes to create a humanities curriculum.
Writing: Lucy Calkins and the Columbia Writing Project provide a series of writing challenges which guide students through learning to write in different genres prescribed by the Common Core Standards. Young students are encouraged to write fluently about topics of high interest to them, while writing conventions are introduced more gradually. Students are taught to write in a variety of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, opinion, and more.
Mathematics: At Peregrine Elementary, we are guided by Cognitively Guided Instructional methods(CGI) in mathematics. Click here for more information. This approach builds on two notions: 1) that mathematics is a way of thinking and problem solving, not simply a set of algorithms to be learned and practiced; and 2) that mathematics teaching should center on the transmission of cognitive understandings, which can only come from students doing their own problem solving and talking with each other about math. We devote one hour per day to mathematics, as well as integrating math into STEM work. Our goal is to balance students’ growing understanding of mathematical systems with a growing set of math skills which help students to use math as a tool. As in reading, individual students are tested and work in groups at their own level, so that each student can advance as quickly in math as possible.