Mixed Age Classrooms
Slate School's classes are multi-age with two grades combined, and each class of students is led by two full-time teachers: a Teacher and an Assistant Teacher.
Upon entering a mixed age classroom, visitors are likely to see teachers facilitating children as they are working intently together. The children may be collaborating to prepare a presentation, playing a game, giving and receiving guidance on a particular task, or acting out a story together. The similarity to the family unit is among a host of proven advantages to the mixed-age model. This simple but often overlooked benefit is initially comforting to the youngest students and empowering to those with more experience. Children are encouraged, as they would be in a family, to support each other in all social and academic learning. Subsequently, we see leadership occurring naturally in the classroom, where, unlike in the traditional single grade model, students expect differences in the ability of their peers, and all abilities are respected. In fact, in mixed-age classrooms. we see that children are much more willing to identify every classmate as a leader in one area or another. As a result, there is a much greater likelihood of children teaching children. This powerful practice promotes teamwork and prepares the children to be true collaborators throughout their life.
Slate School offers a flexible arrival time between 8:30-9:00am, and children may go into their classroom for exploration and discovery during this 30-minute period. Dismissal is at 3:00pm.
For those requiring extended hours, they may register to drop their child off to the library at 8:00am. An Enrichment Program is offered from 3:00-5:00pm for a limited number of students.
Shape of the Day
Slate School encourages children to meet their education on their own terms. Play is a child’s work. In this way, social and academic pursuits exist concurrently, and learning occurs in all settings. In fact, some of our most important discoveries may occur on the playscape, or at the mud kitchen, or in conversation with a peer. Additionally, children have the opportunity for direct daily involvement in Spanish, visual arts, music, creative dance, and books, which are integrated throughout the day.
We begin the day with child choice time to explore books, to revisit activities or tasks that they accomplished previously, or to investigate something new. All of the activities that follow in this description of an ordinary day may occur indoors, outdoors or both.
Next, students gather for a morning meeting, where they:
greet each other
respond to a message prepared by their teachers
participate in a whole group game, meditation or yoga
have ample opportunity to share about their lives and learning.
Cross-curricular enticements give children opportunities for interactive learning to support previously-taught concepts, or to explore new content.
Children enjoy a snack from home while engaging with peers and teachers. This social time is critical for building community and developing confidence towards risk taking later in the day.
Guided discovery within interactive mini lessons transition children to math exploration and independent practice. Students choose from natural tools to explore, manipulate and understand concepts around pattern, sorting, classifying, predicting, comparing, measuring, graphing, concept of number, and place value.
Literacy is at the core of the Slate School curriculum. Captivating stories inspire lessons across content areas, including science, history, and global studies. Written and oral stories begin the daily literacy block, which is followed by discussion and a variety of independent learning options for retelling, extending, interpreting, performing and art making. Mini lessons provide skills and tools for the children to explore as they expand their understanding of writing in all of its magical parts.
Children may play inside or outside. Lunchtime occurs in our classroom or outside, weather permitting.
Children investigate topics of personal interest across all content areas, including science, history, global studies, and math. They develop questions for research and respond to information and discovery through a variety of mediums. This is a very active part of the day, as children may be creating plays, songs, artwork or written reports to support their own understanding. It is also an exciting time for the child because their imaginations are unlocked, and they can explore the meaning of their work in unique and beautiful ways.
Towards the end of each day, children gather again for sharing their curiosities and reflections about the day. These meetings often serve as planning for subsequent learning, and many times children will develop assignments for themselves to do at home. Most of all, closing circle is a celebration of our time together and the fruitfulness of our important contributions to the class learning. Following the meeting, children may enjoy the company of their classmates at play inside or outside until parent pick up.