in the classroom
We realize that not all children learn in the same manner and at the same pace. The Museum School’s core programs require teachers to identify students’ skills, interests and needs and tailor lessons to meet each child at his or her level. Students work in differentiated reading and math groups, and teachers help each child set achievement goals. These core programs strengthen children’s skills and build self-confidence. In gaining knowledge and seeing what they already can do, children learn to believe there’s nothing they cannot do.
Reader’s Workshop teaches literacy through both independent and small-group guided reading. Students use tactics such as whisper reading, peer reading, echo reading and shared reading. They are asked to complete comprehension activities such as creating story webs, story pyramids or character studies. Teachers facilitate interactive discussions centered around books and stories. In addition, students select their own books to read individually, and classmates are encouraged to form book clubs to discuss books and create projects based on them.
Language learning centers are a key part of Reader’s Workshop. Student-centered stations are set up around the classroom, and children receive instructions for a hands-on activity that results in a reading-related product. For example, a vocabulary center might ask students to choose five words from their book of choice, define those words, illustrate them and use them in a meaningful writing assignment.
In Word Study, students tackle word knowledge, spelling, phonics, phonemic awareness and vocabulary. A word wall may list commonly used words, words with tricky spellings and vocabulary words. A word-study notebook becomes each child’s own reference book, highlighting particular word patterns, such as how the letter pattern "ould" makes the similar-sounding words "should," "could" and "would." This approach is meaningful because words chosen for study often appear in students’ readings.
At The Museum School, writing is a daily activity, beginning in kindergarten. Fluency is built through continuous, repeated exposure to the writing process. Students work at their own pace as they learn and practice the basics of story creation — from planning and writing to revision, teacher editing and grammatical instruction. As students write, teachers circulate throughout the room, answering questions, providing mini-lessons and working with individuals to meet each one’s needs. Children write about their own experiences and learn to think creatively.
Students also keep journals, recording their thoughts and experiences and exploring essential questions of each nine-week thematic lesson. These journals become an insight into their minds, storing their observations, reflections, questions, drawings and imaginations.
Writer’s Workshop is integrated with other classroom topics, such as social studies and science. For example, a first-grade lesson on American folk tales may lead to a writing assignment asking students to create their own folk tale. Or a fifth-grade history lesson on the Great Depression may accompany an assignment to write an essay summarizing the events of the Dust Bowl.
Guided Math/Math Workshop
Museum School teachers support each child's development of math proficiency through the use of a structure known as Guided Math/Math Workshop. Students get learning opportunities in a whole-group setting and again in a small-group setting, which gives teachers a powerful tool to reach children at all knowledge and skill levels by differentiatirng curriculum.
Teachers focus on a particular concept, strategy or skill and can re-teach, reinforce, and/or expand the lessons according to student needs. During small-group instruction, students review past math objectives, build reasoning skills, strengthen math-fact fluency and incorporate technology into their math learning through independent practice/math workstations.