Ravens – Ages 9 to 12

The academic curriculum in the Raven classroom builds upon and extends the acquisition of skills in language arts, mathematics and science, which children achieved in the Prairie Dog classroom. Recognizing that children’s cognitive capabilities have matured, teachers may choose more complex subject areas or study previously explored subject areas in greater depth, allowing children to further their acquisition of academic skills. However, when designing and implementing curriculum, Raven teachers continue to acknowledge and incorporate each individual child’s learning style and developmental level. Children in the Raven classroom expand their study of Spanish and add African drumming to their musical repertoire.

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“At Little Earth School my son cultivated the skills and attitude about Life that made the following years in public schools successful.”

Deborah DiVito, Parent

Language Arts

The Raven Language Arts curriculum is a continuation of the instruction children received in the Prairie Dog classroom and builds upon the skills and attitudes children acquired there. Reading and writing, as well as speaking and listening, remain integrated into all subject areas in ways which are personally meaningful to the child and therefore highly motivational in terms of the effort required for reading tasks and for developing reading, writing and comprehension skills. Certainly, the language arts skills presented in the Raven Language Arts program are generally greater in number and complexity than those previously presented to the children. However, Raven teachers recognize that children in that classroom, as they have done at younger ages, continue to acquire these skills at different rates and in different ways. Therefore, the level, pacing and methods of teaching, as well as the materials used, vary according to the developmental needs and learning style of each student. The goal is to give each child a sense of success and confidence about his/her ability to read. Goals of the Raven Language Arts curriculum specifically related to reading include: supporting children’s growth and confidence as independent readers; developing in children a sense of the importance of reading as a tool for furthering one’s interests and strengths; motivating children to seek reading as a pleasurable and satisfying activity in its own right; exposing children to a wide range of literature while developing the skills to use these different types of literature; maintaining a connection between reading and writing by using children’s own writing as part of their reading material; and to encourage children to think and react independently to what they read or hear. Goals of the Raven Language Arts curriculum specifically related to writing include: supporting children’s growth and confidence as independent writers; fostering the attitude that writing is an important way of communicating; encouraging children to view writing as an enjoyable activity, worth the effort it takes to produce a piece of written work, including the process of editing one’s writing; using writing as an organizational tool; and giving children the opportunity to share ideas freely while learning to respect the ideas in another’s writing even though one may not agree with them. Fine motor skill development is also a part of the writing program, as is instruction in both printed and cursive letter formation. Specifically, the Raven Language Arts curriculum includes with respect to reading: the continued development of decoding and comprehension skills; recognition of vowels, consonants and blends; sight reading; book reports, literary discussion and literary devices. With respect to writing, the curriculum includes grammar, spelling, dictionary use, punctuation, research, editing and outlining skills, and word study.

Mathematics

The Raven Mathematics curriculum builds upon the study of mathematical relationships and ideas begun in earlier years. As with other skills areas, the math curriculum allows the teacher to determine what each child in the group needs in terms of instruction, materials and pacing. In the Raven classroom mathematics is integrated into many learning situations throughout the day and in a wide variety of activities and real life applications. The math program encourages children to view math as a source of excitement and discovery rather than a vehicle for getting the “right” answer. In fact, through an emphasis on process, children are encouraged to see that many materials and approaches are available to solve a particular problem, that one has a choice of strategies for problem-solving and that there can be more than one right answer or more than one path to an answer. As was true for the younger children, the Raven Mathematics curriculum provides concrete representations of abstract concepts through manipulatives and math games so that children can develop a clear multi-sensory inner image of mathematical concepts. In this way children are able to build a clear and positive understanding of those concepts rather than simply memorize arithmetic facts and operations. Concrete experience and the use of manipulatives are the foundation for all levels of abstract understanding. This approach to learning mathematics allows children developmentally appropriate opportunities to repeat, review and consolidate mathematical processes in order to internalize them. In so doing children become comfortable manipulating numbers and materials and can increasingly use their mathematical knowledge to solve a wider range of problems. With respect to the particular math skills covered, the program uses as a guide the standards developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Science

A foundational goal of the Raven Science curriculum is identical to that of every classroom at Little Earth: to encourage a sense of wonder, respect for, and responsible connection to, the natural world, including an understanding of the necessity for responsible use of planet resources. The science program allows children to practice formulating questions and testing hypotheses thereby building in them a comfortable and courageous sense of trial and error learning. The program provides a framework for children to find answers to questions through flexible and creative problem solving, including many experiences which enhance children’s observation skills. For the Ravens, the science curriculum is also part of an integrated framework for understanding history and culture as part of a larger whole. Thus the curriculum includes the study of physical geography, physical science, zoology, botany, world cultures, ancient civilizations and time.