Thematic teaching is the basis of instruction in the elementary department. The joy of this level of education is that so much can be included while teaching social studies, science, and other content areas within developmentally appropriate activities. Language and literacy development (in both ASL and English), art, math, gross motor, and fine motor skill building is wrapped into the development of those themes. We include field trip experiences to support the themes taught.
Our goal is to have a variety of literacy activities within each theme. Daily Read-alouds, guided reading, and independent reading is expected and modeled; as is the use of ASL literature and drama. The Friends of OSD granted us the ability to purchase the Signed Stories App and bundles for use on our students iPads and over the classroom projectors. (Signed Stories) We love that the students are able to read/watch their favorite stories in ASL and English over and over again! Laine, our SLP and communication specialist, has been working with the elementary students using Visual Phonics. She uses both pull-out and push-in service models.
Writers’ Workshop is an effective and meaningful way to provide instruction across the elementary grades. In addition to the direct instruction mini-lessons that kick off writers’ workshop, students encourage and teach one another as they work on authentic projects and explore the many ways print is used.
The math curriculum we are using currently comes from The Math Learning Center. Math Learning Center Bridges in Mathematics and Number Corner work together to provide a well-rounded, hands-on program for concept development at both the concrete and symbolic levels. (By the way, they have some free apps on their website!) Envision Math, through Pearson, is the middle school program and our third graders transition into that program.
We have purchased Project STEM from Pearson to be used in the elementary department. We are using the K-2 student modules (6 project based topics and labs).
We are currently investigating two additional curriculum components. One is The Incredible Flexible You, a Social Thinking and social emotional learning curriculum that is geared for the early elementary years. We also participate in the school wide PBIS program and are discussing ways to continue to support the development of students’ self-regulation and problem solving skills.
The second is MindWing Concepts materials which link language development to literacy development with some hands-on tools. Story Grammar Marker, Talk to Write, Write to Learn, and Holding Stories in the Palm of Your Hand are the components we are currently investigating. Braidy, the StoryBraid is the initial component that is used in the Kindergarten classroom to develop narrative development and critical thinking skills. Holding Stories is the application of the Story Grammar Marker to Deaf students who use English and ASL.