Every child’s development is unique. Although children develop through a generally predictable sequence of milestones, we cannot say exactly when a child will reach each and every stage. In Form II, we foster each child’s development through differentiation across all subject areas to meet the needs of each individual student. Young children learn from everything they do. They are naturally curious and they want to explore and discover. During these early years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. In Form II, we strive to provide the right amount of support and encouragement to produce creative, adventurous lifelong learners. We encourage this through intrinsic motivation and perseverance, by providing achievable challenges, and by fostering independence in a nurturing environment through decreasing dependency on adults.
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.
To partner with their homeroom studies of Native Americans, Form II students created Kachina dolls in the art room. Native American cultures, primarily Navajo, Pueblo, and Hopi, specialize in making Kachina dolls. They often represent spirits who come down to the villages to dance and sing, to bring rain for the upcoming harvest, and to give gifts to the children. They are the spirits of deities, ancestors, natural elements, or animals. Although these dolls are traditionally carved from wood, Form II girls created their Kachinas from many recycled materials. After planning and finishing their designs, students wrote about the representations of their dolls.
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 II, typical Integrated Units of study include Multi-cultural Literacy, Asia, Australia, the Rainforest, and Native Americans.
The following is an outline for a research unit on Asia.
- What would it be like to live in various Asian countries?
- What are the similarities and differences between life in various Asian countries and the U.S.?
- Identify geographical locations of Asian countries on the world map
- Compare cultures of various Asian countries and the U.S.
- Learn important aspects Asian life such as: religion, land usage, holidays, language, and food
- Discover the culture of the people
- Explore foods of the different nations
- Become familiar with the native language
Each study emphasizes several primary skills:
- Use a world map to locate the continent of Asia
- Use of books and discussion to compare and chart cultural similarities and differences between Asia and the U.S.
- Research the lifestyle, language, schools, and culture of the people through trade books
- Read legends, folktales and poetry
- Sing songs from the region
- Write a report on an Asian country
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 II 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 II teachers assess each student to determine her literacy needs. Children 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 children concentrates on guided reading, the remaining students engage 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 II, our goal is to foster lifelong writers. Teachers emphasize a writing workshop model that begins with a mini-lesson followed by independent writing time and sharing. Form II curricular components focus on sentence structure, descriptive details, beginning paragraphing, personal narratives, friendly letters, journal entries, poetry, and expository writing in the form of research reports.
Word Study (Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary)
The spelling program in the Lower School follows Primary Spelling in Forms I-IV and 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 2 teaches students that English spelling is largely predictable. It moves away from rote memorization of word lists. Instead, lessons focus on spelling rules and patterns in combination with decoding patterns. 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.
The girls in Form II use base ten blocks regularly to build concrete understanding of addition and subtraction to 1,000. Place value is foundational in Singapore Math; base ten blocks and place value mats engage the girls in modeling algorithms visually before writing them in abstract form. Bar modeling is a visual problem-solving process that pictorially demonstrates algrebraic processes, and Form II solves multi-digit addition and subtraction problems using bar models. Teachers introduce multiplication and division with 2, 3, 4, 5, and 10. Playing games and working in small groups builds collaboration and teamwork skills as the girls find several ways to solve and explain math questions. Students discover various estimation and mental math strategies and investigate geometry with linear measurement, mass, and volume. Pattern and sequence recognition are interwoven in every unit.
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.
Form II students build off content learned in Form I. We add half notes and ties to their rhythmic knowledge and the solfege pitches of do and re complete the pentatonic scale. Students learn rhythmic and melodic ostinatos to develop part work, as well as simple rounds, canons, and partner songs. Verse and refrain and other simple forms are covered, and we teach expressive movement through listening and folk dancing.
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 II, 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, scoops, and mini lacrosse sticks, dribbling with hands and feet, striking with bats, rackets, and foam hockey sticks, scooter activities, jump rope (jump bands and long jump rope), dance, and swimming. Students practice motor and manipulative skills in stations and modified games. Through games, students develop game strategies, work cooperatively,and practice good sportsmanship. Physical fitness is a key component of the curriculum. Students continue to perform activities and exercises that focus on cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, core and upper body strength. Fitness assessments are done in the fall and spring with the use of FITNESSGRAM, a fitness based assessment tool. In the pool, students develop basic water safety, 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 II, students investigate the needs of plants and animals and begin to consider how living things are adapted for life within their larger environments. Students investigate states and changes of matter and learn how to qualitatively and quantitatively describe matter through its properties. They also engage in an engineering design challenge as a culmination of their study of matter. Students in Form II continue to develop the skills introduced in Form I while also learning how to make claims and support them with evidence. While reading and writing of informational text are still often whole class activities, students begin to gain independence with these types of tasks.
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 II students learn how to communicate simple ideas in Spanish through speaking, reading, and writing. At this level they learn the use of regular verbs in the present tense, understand basic sentence formation, comprehend the difference between definite and indefinite articles, and continue developing an appreciation of the culture of Spanish speaking countries.
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 II students learn how to login on computers, begin word processing with Microsoft Word, create art, write and make slideshows using Pixie, use Golly Gee Blocks, a 3D drawing program, and make basic PowerPoint presentations. They 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.