Elementary School (1-5) Program
The Elementary Program at Oakwood School serves students who are in First through Fifth or Sixth grades. Students are grouped in homerooms of up to 12 students with 2 teachers. These homerooms are divided into smaller groups for Reading and Mathematics. Two homerooms usually work together to allow 4 groups for these major subject areas. This enables us to keep the groups small and homogeneous.
Our homerooms are not grade-specific. For example, one homeroom may be composed of students in grades 3 and 4 while another homeroom may have all 4th graders. We look at many facets of the whole child in deciding homeroom placements: age and grade of the student, maturity level, social skills, academic abilities and instructional levels.
We provide an integrated approach to teaching our students the skills they need to be successful. The reading techniques and strategies taught in Reading class are reinforced in Science, Social Studies, and even Math!
Social Affective and Enrichment classes provide an opportunity for students to practice social skills, understand themselves better, and learn about topics of interest. With direct instruction and opportunities to practice skills in the classroom, students develop a community which is based on the core principles of the FISH program used throughout the school -- “Make Their Day, Play, Choose Your Attitude, and Be There.” Classes in Art and Music enrich the curriculum and allow students another outlet for their creativity. Often these areas use projects and songs which are connected to the Social Studies or Science curriculum, helping students use another mode for learning.
Our academic program starts where a child can experience true success. We work to build foundational skills in all areas. As many of our students have difficulty with reading, we use a multisensory systematic, phonetic approach to teaching decoding based on the Orton-Gillingham teaching methods.
Using proven, research-based materials and teaching methods based on this approach, our teachers teach small groups of students which allows for individual attention.Specific instruction in phonics, both encoding and decoding, occurs each day within the Reading program. Spelling (encoding) instruction follows the decoding instruction – students spell words that follow the same decoding pattern they are learning. We also focus on building comprehension strategies and increasing fluency.
Using reading materials at their instructional levels, students practice all areas of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency. Materials appropriate for the students’ reading level and age level engage students. Multiple comprehension and active reading strategies are taught during reading instruction and reinforced through application in all other subject areas.
In Mathematics, we build strong foundational skills and work to fill in any holes in concept development which a child may have. Our program focuses on using a multisensory, hands-on approach based on the Concrete-Representational-Abstract (CRA) sequencing which research has shown to best benefit our students in developing strong math skills. We work to build fact fluency through technology as well as time-tested methods. We are committed to building strong concepts and problem-solving skills so students understand the underlying reasoning for the algorithm. Frequent review and extra practice are provided to shore up these skills.
Our teachers understand the language of math and how this use of language impacts many of our students. Terms such as “greater than” and “less than” are quite confusing to students with language-based learning disabilities. Direct instruction in the language as well as strategy development help our students learn these terms and how to apply them in order to solve problems.
Depending on the math level and learning needs, students may use strategies such as TouchMath, singing songs to support memory for math facts, walking a number line, using manipulatives to solve equations in Hands-On Equations, or referring to their math journal for help with concepts. Calculators are used to support problem-solving activities.
Written language poses a difficulty for many students with learning disabilities. Composing well-written text requires the combination of many processes. Our teachers understand the developmental continuum and use our scope and sequence of skills to guide students to improve their written communication.
Various materials are used throughout the school – Step up to Writing, Diana King’s Paragraphing Kit, The 6 + 1 Traits of Writing, Webspiration – to engage and instruct students through color-coding sentences and parts of paragraphs, learning how to write different types of sentences and paragraphs, understanding word choice, ideas, voice, sentence fluency and the writing process, and using the computer to generate graphic organizers and produce published copies of written work.
We use technology as appropriate and work with our Occupational Therapist to help students develop the fine motor skills essential for legible handwriting, both print and cursive, as well as keyboarding. Cursive instruction begins in Third grade as students are ready. Correct formation of the cursive letters in order to write a signature and to read others’ cursive writing are goals for this program.
Science and Social Studies classes are taught by homeroom so students experience a larger group setting (up to 12 students). Study Skills are incorporated into these content areas. Even at the youngest levels, students are learning basic skills such as finding the main idea and supporting details, choosing important ideas when researching, showing information in hands-on projects and in writing, and presenting information learned to others. Using hands-on, teacher-guided experiments and projects, students learn how they learn best.