Academics at The Community School
Expeditions: We call our integrative units “Expeditions,” which shape the themes of The Community School’s academic program. Our expeditions are rooted in the Sciences and Social Studies and explore a given topic for multiple weeks incorporating developmentally appropriate reading and writing, math skills, storytelling, verse, arts, history, and scientific methods and inquiry. Our writing, artistic work, and reflections throughout the year’s Expeditions are recorded in our Expedition Logs and bound for the child to take home at the end of each year. Assessment throughout each expedition is based on class participation and engagement and project-based assignments that holistically demonstrate each child’s learning.
Language Arts Workshop: We strongly believe in sharing the beauty and richness of language with all grades through reading, various styles of writing, verse, stories, song, and theater. Language Arts Workshop is a time during the school day when the children engage in specific developmentally appropriate literacy activities. It is where the business of learning to be good listeners, speakers, readers, and writers is learned and practiced. Children work at their own pace and are introduced to new skills when naturally ready. The Lucy Calkins Units of Study in Reading and Writing serve as the foundation of our Language Arts curriculum.
Math Workshop: Math Workshop is a time during the school day when the children engage in learning experiences that require them to draw upon their intellectual resources as critical thinkers and problem solvers, rather than simply follow an algorithm; a time that requires learners to stretch and think in new ways, rather than rehearse known skills; that invites students to communicate their ideas with others, rather than just to the teacher, and, as a result, offers learners opportunities to attain a deeper understanding both of mathematics and of themselves as mathematicians. Great Minds’ Eureka Math serve as the foundation of our Math curriculum.
Outings: Our weekly outings into the community are intentionally linked to our curriculum and are crucial to the work in a given Expedition. The outing gives a practical context to teach and learn about content as we work with community members from all walks of life and professions and engage with local places that enrich our work and understanding in all subject areas. Our outings also take the form of service projects, stewardship, and team and leadership building, while providing an authentic social context for children to learn and grow.
Handwork: The primary goal of Handwork is to teach skills that enable children to create beautiful objects that they love, enjoy, and use. Students experience a wide variety of age and stage appropriate projects during our weekly class periods. Natural fibers fill our handwork lessons and help to create a real connection to the natural world. Stories, verses, and fingers plays set the tone for fun and concentrated work. It is our aim that each child graduate with handwork skills that will serve them well throughout life. Many important lessons come about through working with the hands. The will is the power within us that allows us to interact with the world. Activating the will through Handwork brings balance and wholeness to one's education and strengthens a child's ability in all subjects.
Beginning in 6th grade, children learn to work with different materials, and skills such as woodworking and clay are brought into the curriculum.
Music: Music is one of the many “languages” that children learn at The Community School. Music can tell the story of our hearts and express the sounds of nature, and celebratory or melancholic music feeds our souls. Because musical expression is a fundamental part of the human experience children are exposed to it at the earliest age. Through learning instruments, listening to great works of music, or engaging music from around the world, music acts as a lens through which we explore and express: physiology, creativity, history, and geography. The goal of Music Class is for children to fall in love with music and create a foundation for a lifetime of musical exploration and creativity.
Spanish: The goal of Spanish Class is to open the children's hearts and minds to other cultures, to introduce them to the accessibility of other languages, to develop in them auditory and linguistic flexibility, and to cultivate in them a sense of how language is learned and structured. In Spanish Class, we familiarize the students with the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures, as well as expose them to intercultural experiences and encourage their respect for human diversity. Through imitation, creative games, and artistic activities, this course fosters an understanding of the relationship between culture and language. This class also includes visits to museums, colleges, libraries, or other public spaces where children can appreciate the cultural diversity that surrounds us. The children work on a wide variety of projects during their weekly class periods, which vary with the grade and season.
Please Note: For one Expedition, classes look forward to building sets, creating costumes and learning lines for our a play, across the grades. We believe engaging in theater builds confidence and early public speaking skills, while inspiring a sense of creativity and imagination.
Our days are also active with much physical activity and time outside. We honor the active and physical needs of children in the classroom and throughout our field studies, as we incorporate yoga, transitional movements, and active lessons into our daily rhythm.
Mindfulness work is embedded into the curriculum and into our daily transitions, teaching children tools to breath, focus and bring inner peace of mind and heart. We practice mindfulness explicitly during our mindfulness mornings with yoga, meditation, and intention-setting, and it is also a thread that runs through our meal preparation and sharing and throughout our circle work and academic program.