Form I marks an exciting milestone for young girls as they take charge of their daily learning. Students achieve personal and classroom goals through faculty guidance and support for their independence, responsibility, and collaboration. Form I students are curious, determined, and imaginative. Teachers encourage girls to utilize meta-cognitive thinking skills to learn more about themselves as active and joyful learners.
The academic life of a Form I student in homeroom includes reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, integrated studies, and mathematics. In each area, there is an intentional focus on 21st-century learning skills, which include creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, connectedness, and communication.
Form I students are supported in their quest for knowledge through a partnership with parents and teachers that provides each child a solid foundation from which she can accomplish many amazing things.
The Lower School art program is structured to develop skills that build upon prior knowledge from previous years. The girls are introduced to the Elements and Principles of Design in each Form and deepen their knowledge of these concepts every year by using different mediums, through learning new techniques and by being introduced to the work of different artists. Art in the Lower School focuses on developing creativity and innovation while embracing challenge. Students explore a variety of two-dimensional and three-dimensional projects that will extend the girls’ classroom learning and aid them in developing unique solutions to other design challenges. In the art room there is usually more than one solution to a problem or project and we will embrace experimentation and creation.
The goal for each student is to enjoy her time in art and to extend her learning in integrated studies for a rich understanding of the topic. A sampling of focal areas: artists who work to create change in their communities, art connected to science and the environment, art created in cultures all over the world throughout history and today, and Columbus-area artists. We will also be laying a foundation of art and art history including significant artists, movements, and skills such as observational drawing.
Form I students develop colorful designs based on the artwork of Jen Stark. The class continues to discuss the concepts of warm and cool colors as well as tints and shades. Elements of design, shape, and repetition were also emphasized in the project.
Stark is a contemporary artist whose primary work involves creating paper sculptures. Her ideas, based on replication and infinity, echo patterns and intelligent designs found in nature.
Based on guiding questions, homeroom teachers collaborate with curriculum specialists to create an Integrated Studies unit that weaves the classroom Social Studies theme with Science, Spanish, Technology, Library, Physical Education, and the Arts. This approach provides a myriad of experiences that contextualize the learning process and builds a deeper understanding of the topic for each student.
In Form I, Integrated Studies units provide a way for students to explore topics deeply and in all curricular threads. Topics of study include: communities, differences, a global geography unit focusing on a specific sub topic, a research unit based on collecting and presenting information, and a reflective unit to close the year.
In the study of “community,” students learn about the people who compose their own neighborhood and school communities. They understand their role within each and how communities grow and change. Next, Form I studies “differences” to understand themselves in the context of a multi-cultural world. They learn to recognize and accept differences among people while embracing their uniqueness.
The following is an outline for a research unit on Ohio Animals.
- The identifying characteristics of animal groups.
- What kinds of animals live in Ohio from each group?
- How do animals function in their habitats?
Each study emphasizes several primary skills:
- Identifying similarities and differences of each animal group
- Nonfiction reading and conducting research
- Learning and using new vocabulary
- Designing suitable habitats for animals
- Writing a first report on an animal native to Ohio
To close the year, the students in Form I review a school timeline and reflect on the important events that made our time in Form I special. Each student creates a memory album that includes pictures taken throughout the year and journal entries to detail each event.
In the Lower School, instruction is deeply integrated to create a strong connection between reading, writing, word study, and oral language. Our Language Arts instruction relies on the latest research from the International Reading Association, National Institute of Literacy, National Institute of Health, Association of School Supervision and Curriculum Development, United States Department of Education, and the Ohio Department of Education, as well as many other national and international organizations.
Our focus of instruction matches the developmental stages of each student through differentiation and continual monitoring of growth to ensure literacy success.
The Lower School reading curriculum immerses students in a balanced literacy program that addresses the five components of reading instruction as identified by the National Reading Panel: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. The classroom teacher and the Lower School literacy specialists provide opportunities for reading support and enrichment.
Form I uses components of the Guided Reading model for instruction. This small-group reading instruction provides differentiated teaching that supports students in developing reading proficiency. Prior to the beginning of the school year, Form I teachers assess each student to determine her literacy needs. Students are typically grouped by academic ability, reading level, or strategic/skill-based needs. We assess these skills three times within the academic year by frequent informal assessments, as well as by formalized assessments such as the Developmental Reading Assessment and STAR program. Literacy groups meet with the teacher several times throughout a rotation. While one group of students concentrate on guided reading, the remaining group engages in quality independent or group literacy tasks.
The Lower School writing curriculum centers on a writing process that includes prewriting (brainstorming, webbing, outlining, etc.), composing the rough draft, editing for conventions, revising for content, and publishing the final draft. Students in the Lower School learn to write within multiple genres to broaden their exposure to literary components. Teachers often integrate writing projects through thematic units of study.
In Form I, students learn how to organize and present their thoughts in writing. Utilizing many of the skills learned in Kindergarten, they practice ABC fluency, print of both upper and lowercase letters, the spelling of high-frequency words (I, and, the, more, there), and grammar (capitalization and end punctuation). At this stage, students continue to use invented spelling in their writing; however, they become more strategic in their use of vowels and transition to conventional spelling for simple words with common spelling patterns (big, pig, sing, ring and like, hike). Form I curricular components include sentence structure, simple descriptive details, friendly letters, journal entries, poetry, and an introduction to expository writing in the form of research reports.
Word Study (Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary)
The spelling program in the Lower School follows Primary Spelling for Forms I-IV and adopts components of Spellography in Form V. These are systematic, explicit programs written to enhance each student’s phonological and orthographic understanding of word construction, as well as syllable identification, morphology, and parts of speech. Students learn grammar and vocabulary through mini-lessons and also through application to the writing process.
Primary Spelling by Pattern, Level 1 teaches students how to observe, listen for, and understand the structure of written words by emphasizing regular patterns most commonly used in English. Lessons focus on review of phonological and phoneme awareness, guided practice, and independent application to writing. Teachers use special memory strategies to teach irregular words.
Oral Language: Speaking, Listening, and Presenting
Foundational oral language skills include speaking, listening, and presenting. Teachers embed these skills into daily experiences by highlighting them in a variety of ways, including through classroom ambassadors, lunch announcements and jokes, curriculum showcases, and grade level presentations to the entire Lower School in the Unicorn Theater.
Lower School students use Math in Focus, a textbook series based on Singapore Math methodology, to guide mathematical understanding. Concepts are introduced developmentally in a three step progression:concretely, pictorially, and then abstractly. Sprints and daily counting techniques promote stamina, focus, and number fluency. In addition, problem-solving is integrated daily, and teachers encourage students to explain strategies, formulate multiple solutions, and collaborate with peers. Each lesson involves the use of technology. Math in Focus is organized to teach fewer concepts at each level with mastery as a goal. When a concept appears in a subsequent grade level, it is always at a higher or deeper level.
In Form I, number bonds are important tools used to develop elementary number sense with addition and subtraction. Girls understand the connection between fact families by using number bonds and number lines. Teachers emphasize numbers in isolation but also as relative to one another. Place value is foundational in Singapore Math and is reinforced throughout the entire Lower School math experience. Calculation is anchored in word stories which continually provide relevance to the algorithm. Clear and engaging visuals that present concepts and model solutions allow all students to gain strong conceptual understanding. Students use numerous manipulatives to develop and demonstrate mathematical fluency. Playing games and working in small groups build collaboration and teamwork skills. Cooperative learning fosters effective mathematical communication, problem-solving and numerical analysis. The girls discover various mental math and estimation strategies throughout the year. The Form I curriculum also provides an introduction to geometry, time and money.
In the Lower School, the music curriculum develops skills, cultivates creativity, and helps students cultivate an appreciation for the art of music. Using techniques from the Kodaly, Orff, and Dalcroze methods, steps toward musical literacy and ear training prepare students for future ensemble work. The music faculty also works closely with the other Lower School teachers to create meaningful, authentic experiences that reinforce content learned in other subjects.
In Form I, students begin the year reviewing readiness concepts that establish the groundwork for music literacy. Musical concepts covered include beat and rhythm, as well as hearing, playing, and writing quarter and eighth notes. Tuneful singing and pitch matching form the melodic focus of the year, and we write the solfege pitches so, mi, and la. We lay the foundation for meter, time signatures, measures, and repeat signs, and then learn to recognize differences in phrases and simple forms. Listening activities focus on creative and expressive movement.
The goal of the Lower School Physical Education program is to provide students with a safe and fun environment where they are engaged in activities that will develop their knowledge, skills, and fitness levels to participate competently in physical activities. All classes emphasize cooperation, teambuilding, and the practice of good sportsmanship. Our hope is that each girl finds her own motivation to stay physically fit and make healthy choices throughout her life. Each Form in Lower School has Physical Education twice every six-day rotation for 40 minutes throughout the entire school year.
In Form I, the girls develop fundamental motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities. Some of the target units in this Form are throwing and catching with hands and scoops, individual jump rope and hula-hoop skills, introduction to climbing wall, dribbling exploration with hands and feet, scooter exploration, striking with hands, paddles, bats, foam hockey sticks, yoga, and swimming. There is also an interdisciplinary unit on exploring the challenge of differences. Students practice motor and manipulative skills in stations and modified games, work on cooperation, and practice good sportsmanship. Physical fitness is a key component of the curriculum. They are introduced to and begin to practice activities and exercises focusing on cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and core and upper body strength. In the pool, students become water ready by developing basic water safety skills and basic swimming and diving skills.
Science in the Lower School is an inquiry experience. The girls ask and answer questions, collect and analyze data, and create explanations for phenomena in the natural world. They also apply scientific knowledge to solve problems through engineering and design challenges. There is also a strong emphasis on literacy through reading nonfiction text, writing in science notebooks, and frequent discussions.
In Form I, the girls observe changes in the natural world over the course of both short and long time periods, ranging from a single class to a year-long experience. They investigate the effects of the Sun's energy on Earth's land, air, and water. They study structures and function in both plants and animals and compare the diversity of living things. Finally, the girls investigate sound and light and explore how these can be used to transmit information. Skills of emphasis in Form I Science include observational drawing and writing simple sentences to document observations. Reading and writing of informational text are often done as whole class activities.
The goal of Lower School Spanish is to prepare students for Middle School Spanish by tapping the natural language-acquisition abilities of young students to encourage them to speak authentically. To accomplish this, the Lower School curriculum is based on an instructional strategy in which students learn vocabulary through Total Physical Response actions and then through storytelling. Students thus contextualize the words they have learned. This program produces a balance between student comprehension and student production of meaningful language. We strive to promote keen interest in and enjoyment of the language and cultures of Spanish speaking countries.
Form I students begin to develop listening comprehension and verbal skills. They are given directions in Spanish and learn to offer basic greetings, to answer simple questions, to recognize the Spanish alphabet, to act out simple stories told in Spanish, to count and identify numbers from 1-30. They are introduced to cultural aspects of Spanish speaking countries through songs, dances, and stories.
In Technology classes, students learn a variety of applications and skills that allow the use of technology as a tool to accomplish educational objectives. Technology classes in Lower School have four main concentrations:
- Students learn word processing and presentation software.
- The robotics program begins in Form I with 3D design and culminates with programming LEGO robots in Forms IV and V.
- Students utilize a variety of programs, including green-screen technology, to create multimedia projects.
- Using curriculum materials from Common Sense Media, students discuss how to be safe and smart when online and using technology.
Form I students learn how to login, begin word processing with Microsoft Word, create art, write and make slideshows using Pixie, use Golly Gee Blocks, a 3D drawing program, and create a variety of multimedia projects, including green-screen technology to make movies. With supervision, they utilize web sites that support their curriculum units of study. They are introduced to age-appropriate Internet safety concepts in staying safe online, using keywords for searching, keeping information private, and showing respect online.