We know that a child’s early school years are an important time for learning. It is in elementary school that we build the foundation for children’s pathways to lifelong success. We believe successful learning occurs in an environment that is age-appropriate, interactive, challenging and engaging. Our dedicated teachers have been trained to deliver high-quality whole group instruction, tailored small group instruction and one-on-one support. We ensure that every child’s voice is heard and that they receive the support necessary to succeed. While all four core curriculum areas are provided, the major emphasis in elementary school is on growing student skills in literacy and mathematics.
Our literacy programming is designed based on a Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop model driven by instructional standards, focused on strategies and guided by student data. We offer students tools for selecting and comprehending literature in a manner that they learn to ask questions, make connections, and explore different genres, authors, and texts. Students work at their own level and make progress by learning to work in various formats. In addition to our dedicated teachers, each elementary school provides a full-time literacy specialist to work with individual and small groups of students and lead professional development for teachers. We ensure that our students receive research-based, rigorous, differentiated instruction.
Our mathematics programming is built on challenging content and authentic problem solving that fosters perseverance and interest. Instruction is based on developing mathematical practices in order to build students’ conceptual understanding and problem solving skills. Students work both individually and collaboratively to become successful math thinkers. Each MTSD elementary school employs a full-time math specialist to support our high-quality teachers and students. Teachers have been trained to provide multiple levels of support in order to ensure all students are challenged throughout our mathematics curriculum.
With a strong emphasis on teaching students how to use the scientific method, elementary school teachers use inquiry-based, active, hands-on investigation to engage students in authentic applications of science. Students engage in science investigations and experiments by first looking at all the evidence before making a statement of fact. By teaching the scientific method as a technique for students to develop conclusions, students learn how to answer a question in a logical manner. Science instruction is a key tool used to ensure students develop problem-solving skills that empower them to participate in rigorous science coursework in the secondary setting.
The key priority of social studies instruction is preparing our students to be responsible citizens for the nation, the state and the local area. Throughout students’ elementary school experiences, teachers use social studies instruction to grow student understanding of the history, traditions, geography, economic and political context, and values that influence who they are today. Through a strong community partnership with Junior Achievement, students at every grade level engage in early lessons on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and work readiness. This enhances the school’s social studies curriculum with authentic applications and experiential learning that allows students to put their new knowledge and skills into practice.
The elementary experience provides authentic exposure to art, music and physical education as part of our comprehensive program designed to meet students’ diverse needs and interests. Preparing students for success means exposing them to the widest array of possibilities. Opportunities in these curricular areas cultivate the whole child by allowing students to showcase their creative abilities, build their social-emotional intelligence and explore their passions.
Art instruction provides a means of developing fine motor skills, while nurturing and engaging the imagination. Elementary school art specialists uses a variety of media (e.g., drawing, painting, ceramics) to teach students self-expression, creativity and the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In learning how to see things in the world around them, channeled through the artworks they create, children discover details and other useful information that become internalized in their intellectual and emotional growth. Students explore the components of art through a wide variety of methods, including hands-on art making, interactive presentations, discussions, written reflections, cross-curricular collaborations, integration with literature and critical thinking exercises. Through these activities, students discover how art influences society, develop an appreciation for art history and learn how to generate personal and meaningful connections with their own art-making. As students explore and develop these new skills, they are able to develop a strong sense of self, refine their technical abilities and expand their capacity to think critically and creatively about their world.
A robust, comprehensive music program is an integral part of a child’s education. All elementary school students take a general music class that builds their skills in music through singing, instrument playing, movement and critical listening. In these classes, students are exposed to music from various historical and cultural traditions. Creativity and collaboration are encouraged as students learn to read and perform music.
Beyond the general music programming, students in upper elementary grades also have access to elective options in orchestra and band. Fourth- and fifth-grade orchestra students attend two large ensemble rehearsals before school and receive one 30-minute, small-group lesson during the school day each week. Band is offered to students beginning in fifth grade. It is in elementary performing arts programming that students are taught their first sounds on an instrument and are shaped into young musicians.
Physical education classes provide each student the opportunity to participate in a comprehensive program consisting of skill development, team sports and physical fitness activities. The curriculum is designed to enhance the cognitive, motor, affective and fitness development of each student. Students receive instruction in rules and strategies associated with a variety of sports, and also have experiences that prompt them to question, analyze and communicate concepts. Through engagement in physical education classes, students develop lifelong habits that promote wellness and physical activity. The program promotes the spirit of cooperation, leadership, fair play and friendly competition.
Students learn valuable skills and quality habits in their use of technology. Every classroom is equipped with a mounted projector, document camera and SMART board. MTSD elementary schools employ a full-time research and digital learning specialist to support teacher growth and instructional planning. By engaging in meaningful digital learning opportunities, students learn developmentally appropriate online research and communication skills. By the end of fifth grade, they understand the importance of building a positive digital footprint and are on the path to becoming information-literate adults.