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Early Elementary Program

A Day in the Life
Early Elementary Program at AIS
While each day at AIS is unique according to projects being explored or community events, there are several components of the curriculum that occur on a regular basis.  These pages describe many of the activities that you might see on a typical school day.  Consider this a snapshot of an AIS classroom.
 
Individualized Instruction:  The daily schedule at AIS is flexible and structured to support individualized instruction.  The curriculum and schedule are designed to support students when extra time is needed to explore or solidify understanding of skills and concepts.  With two educators in each classroom, teachers can take the time necessary to check in with individual students throughout the day. Students are placed in small groups for their work in Literature Circle, Language Lab and Technology. These groups allow teachers to tailor learning opportunities for individual students. Word, Booklist and Math Vitamin check-ins give students one-on-one work times with a teacher to clarify understanding and offer challenges.
 
Theme Activities: This is often a hands-on activity that deepens a child’s understanding of a given subject area.  Each year, AIS adopts a theme which serves as a unifying thread for curriculum at all levels and opens the door to investigation across all subject areas. The yearlong theme is abstract, universal and timeless. It is purposefully broad to allow for emergent ideas and shifting dynamics. The theme provides the backbone for curricular decisions about everything from literature books to science explorations, social studies and field trips, with each teaching team determining how the theme will be explored.  Some examples of past themes that utilize this model have included concepts such as: transformation, origins, layers, influence and design.
 
Math Vitamin®: An open-ended story problem awaits students as they arrive in the morning. Our students explore math concepts and demonstrate their understanding of mathematical operations and patterns through the Math Vitamin.  The story connects to what they are studying in their classroom and asks them to solve the problem at their level of understanding by using manipulatives, drawings, numbers and equations.  Teachers encourage students to use an area of strength to initially approach a problem and then to explore other strategies to arrive at a solution. Teachers carefully design these problems to challenge students at multiple levels of understanding and to encourage skill development in all mathematical areas.
 
Word: This is a time where children work one-on-one with a teacher to explore writing. They choose a meaningful word, series of words, sentence or section of a story that they want to write about. During this process they learn about letter formation, phonics, grammar, punctuation, spelling and sentence structure. Words are illustrated after they are written and then shared with friends. As children become more independent, they generate multiple words that express their central idea, begin composing sentences and are often able to explore crafting stories and personal narratives.
 
Independent Projects: Each day as students complete their work, they are invited to explore independent and collaborative projects. Teachers select games, puzzles, and other problem solving activities that may be new to children or not normally chosen during Investigation times. Some projects are designed for independent work while some are designed to explore with friends. Explorations reinforce and teach both critical and spatial thinking skills and encourage cooperative learning.
 
Investigation: Investigation gives students an opportunity to work together and build friendships in the context of play. Each class meets to choose which activities are open. For example: building, art, imaginative play, and sensory play are just some of the activities that are explored during this time. Teachers are available to coach and facilitate games as students learn to build and maintain friendships and collaborate together.
 
Language Lab:  Language Lab provides children with opportunities to explore a variety of language arts skills, such as letter recognition, vowel spelling rules, root words, or grammar conventions. Teachers introduce these skills to a small group of children that are working at a similar skill level. Games are used to integrate visual, auditory, verbal and kinesthetic modes of learning.
 
Specialists: Early Elementary students receive specialist instruction in art, music, technology, language, and science.  Students visit one or two of our Specialists every day.  Specialists look to the yearly Theme to create enriching curriculum and work to integrate classroom subject studies into their areas of expertise.
 
Lunch and Recess: There are two formal recess times for students to play outside: once during lunch and once in the afternoon. Teachers may call a “fresh air” break at any point during the day and investigations are also conducted outside.
 
Rest and Read: Teachers use this time to work with students one-on-one to enhance decoding strategies and skills and ensure comprehension.  Students select books with their teachers that are appropriate to their individual reading levels, interests and abilities. Teachers talk with students about their book choices to help them become more independent and to broaden their reading selections.
 
Booklist:  On Booklist days, teachers work with half of the class. Students master the text in a book appropriate for their level, starting with books that have a predictable text. They read the book aloud to teachers and peers and record its title on a booklist sheet. Working with a teacher, each child sets a goal at an appropriate reading level and pace, celebrating his/her success with the classroom and Early Elementary community. Students practice with classmates, creating a rich environment for reading to be shared and modeled at all levels from beginning readers to chapter books.
 
Class Meeting: Students set the agenda for class meeting and take turns facilitating the discussion. This is a time to problem-solve and celebrate. It is a time for respectful listening and speaking. It shows how much each voice is valued.   Daily class meetings are dedicated for students to discuss classroom and school-wide issues. Teachers participate in class meetings as a member of the class but also provide support as needed to structure the meetings.  Teachers model group process strategies and provide counsel. A representative from each classroom carries concerns, discussions, and decisions back and forth between class meetings and all school meetings.  All school meetings are the place where classroom representatives get to hear issues or ideas that pertain to the community as a whole.  Working together, children come up with creative solutions to problems and brainstorm ideas for how to improve the community.
 
Read Aloud: Students spend time each day listening to a teacher read aloud to the class from a wide variety of genres that are connected to the theme. Read Aloud gives students an opportunity to increase listening comprehension, vocabulary and auditory language skills. Teachers use this opportunity to ask leading questions and model literary analysis and comprehension techniques.
 
Clean up and go home: After finishing our class jobs, we wrap up our day with a closing circle that summarizes the day and sets the stage for tomorrow’s adventure!  School ends at 3 p.m.
 
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