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|Treloggen, Bobbie||ex.212||Teacher/Character Counts Coordinator|
Language arts and mathematics share the uppermost position in Egremont's academic hierarchy. The elements of the language arts curriculum change as a student advances through the grades. Students are exposed to critical thinking throughout all grades and levels. Students analyze stories and predict possible outcomes. Teachers direct discussions and encourage students to draw conclusions and make inferences and interpretations. Students are given writing assignments that require a higher level of thinking in which they are required to brainstorm, solve problems, and support answers with concrete examples. Teachers encourage a variety of solutions to the same question in order to accommodate all types of learning styles. Students' opinions and independent thought processes are praised.
Language arts in kindergarten through third grade is comprised of many strands which include literature and comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, oral reading, phonics, and expository writing. Students continue to strengthen their fundamental verbal skills, particularly in grammar and vocabulary, by means of critical thinking and problem-solving exercises. These exercises include placing vocabulary in context clue sentences and inferring definitions from word morphology. The literature and writing components of language arts are interdependent. Emphasis is placed on teaching students how to support opinions and observations in clear, well-supported essays. Essays may be literature-based or personal. In order to write an effective essay, students must demonstrate practical mastery of a wide range of skills. Grammar, vocabulary, and creativity must all be brought into the service of a unified organizational scheme.
Beginning in kindergarten, emphasis is placed on four specific areas. Those areas are concepts, computation, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. Emphasis shifts to more independent thinking, and the application of mathematical procedures to problems beginning in third grade. Concepts introduced at each level are designed to allow for individual achievement at each student's level of ability (refer to course of study).
Problem-solving and higher level thinking skills are heavily embedded in the program but the amount of time spent on these skills varies with each level and performance group. These skills are integrated into the instruction on a daily basis as appropriate to the sophistication of the class. Basic skills are stressed at all levels as tools that empower students to become more adept at thinking through and solving different types of problems.
Teachers use a wide range of methods in presenting their curriculum to the students. These methods include oral instruction, demonstrations, discussions, manipulatives, workbooks, worksheets, charts, self-checking activities, thinking storybooks, games, technology, tests, and oral and written evaluations. Students learn in a variety of ways, and in order to accommodate various learning styles, we believe teachers should use a number of different strategies. The presentations range from traditional to innovative. Each teacher is strongly encouraged to fully develop his or her repertoire of teaching strategies and techniques by using as resources all of the following: other teachers, conferences, seminars, in-service presentations, off-site visitations, and continuing education.
In K-3 science, problem-solving and higher thinking skills are heavily emphasized through the hands-on activities and labs. The fundamental skills of the scientific method are developed sequentially. Critical thinking skills are then enhanced when children are stimulated to question and explore beyond their hypothesis and general background.