At Ravenswood Elementary, we inspire kids to be lifelong learners.
Our curriculum is full of inquiry projects, new technology, reading the classics and using art to understand the world, but it also builds skills our children will need to succeed long after they graduate from Ravenswood.
We choose curriculum that encourages students to ask questions, develop strategies to process what they are learning, find innovative ways to apply their new knowledge, and then create something with all the skills and ideas they’ve acquired. You can see the results papered on bulletin boards in hallways, stacked in writing portfolios and even in the school newsletter — we do academics and arts in big, dynamic ways.
Ravenswood’s teachers and staff use comprehensive curriculum mapping that flows and builds from grade level to grade level. This process ensures that we are fulfilling instructional requirements for each grade level, and going beyond that to establish consistency and continuity as students progress.
We recognize that children need to have strong reading fluency and comprehension skills in order to excel in all other subjects, making literacy a critical aspect of the curriculum at our school.
We follow the Balanced Literacy approach, a tool that enables teachers to meet our students’ individualized needs, whether they are performing at grade level, above grade level or have not yet met grade-level standards.
Balanced Literacy incorporates reading and writing through the Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop model, and encourages children to learn and interact in a variety of ways. When students are working together as a whole group while the teacher is introducing a new skill to the class, when children are paired together to do an independent project, and when individuals are sharing observations aloud — these are all ways Balanced Literacy is at work in our classrooms.
Reading and writing are exciting experiences at Ravenswood.
Students do not use Basal readers. In keeping with the Balanced Literacy approach, students read from texts that range from beginning readers to nonfiction references to higher-leveled novels. This allows children opportunities to read dynamic texts appropriate for their reading levels, and for teachers to choose texts they know students will connect to and the curriculum will support.
Ravenswood’s library of leveled reading material is ever-growing to meet the curiosities of students and to give teachers a large pool of materials to draw from. In-class libraries house texts appropriate for each year and instruction.
During Reader’s Workshop, students engage with the text — asking questions, making connections, applying learnings from previous projects and problem-solving together. There are rich whole-class conversations and lessons, small group discussions, peer conferences and independent reading times.
The model embraces differing learning styles and grade levels. The model evolves as the kids do, progressing into upper grades, higher proficiencies and texts that connect subject areas. We are delighted to see students excited to take books home, to devour non-fiction texts and to eagerly raise their hands to apply what they’ve read to a social studies project or during science class.
Each student at Ravenswood builds a writer’s portfolio. Children are encouraged to think of themselves as writers, then to develop their writing skills. Our teachers introduce skills to the class and students get to work on them, individually practicing and adding works to their portfolios. Next, students divide into peer groups to problem-solve, give feedback and offer constructive critiques. The process circles back to the whole class, with students presenting their work to each other.
Some classes throw publishing parties, celebrating the process and sharing the final products of their hard work and collaboration.
Back to the top.
Students don’t always come to a new class with the same skills or learning styles or experience as other children. To ensure that each child is offered challenging, appropriate instruction, teachers perform assessments of all students at the beginning of the school year. Students are then divided into level groups that are guided by teachers and offer fluid instruction as students plateau and progress. The goal is to keep each student both challenged and supported.
Differentiated instruction is concentrated in reading and math.
Back to the top.
Ravenswood calls on Everyday Mathematics curriculum for kindergarten through 5th grade.
Developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, this curriculum is taught in more than 220,000 classrooms in the United States. The innovative approach reaches out to children’s diverse learning styles. Teachers use multiple methods to repeatedly expose students to math concepts. One child might learn best using tools and games, while another excels applying math to concrete, real-life situations. Another student may really latch on to a complicated concept once they complete a verbal exercise; another may need to choose from a list of problem-solving strategies. The methods meet kids where they are and help them to work the concept until they are proficient at a new math skill.
It is critical for 6th- to 8th-grade students to develop logical reasoning skills, to apply mathematics to real-life activities, to communicate with numbers, and to confidently employ quantitative and spatial information as they make decisions. To help each student master these skills, Ravenswood uses MathThematics curriculum in the upper-middle grades.
Through independent learning and cooperative group work, students use the MathThematics approach to excel in measurement, probability, statistics, algebra, geometry and discrete mathematics.
Back to the top.
Ravenswood students become researchers, delving into detailed projects that ignite their curiosity and develop investigative skills through the Full Option Science System (FOSS) kits.
This kindergarten through 8th grade researched-based curriculum was developed at the University of California-Berkeley with the goal of teaching children scientific concepts and critical-thinking skills by exploring the natural world.
Using books, multimedia and new technology, Ravenswood students may be comparing the atmosphere on different planets in one classroom, investigating how worms help us compost in an on-campus garden, and analyzing weather patterns in Antartica in another class!