The Liberi School Curriculum
Learning is not put together in bits and pieces but rather the emphasis is on exploring material holistically and in depth. Careful assessment of individual learning styles, cognitive strengths, and preferences allows students to work in flexible multi-age and multi-year groupings throughout their school career. Every student is involved in rigorous project-based academic learning for three uninterrupted hours each morning. The whole school engages in an integrated curriculum of science, math, language arts, world languages, history, and technology with an overall emphasis on the social structures of the classroom, the school community, and the extended community. In the afternoon, all students and teachers are involved in inter-grade groupings that work on long-term projects such as theatre performances, art gallery exhibitions, chorus rehearsals, and a variety of other student/faculty generated ideas. The morning and afternoon programs are carefully designed to allow numerous opportunities for overlapping within the curriculum. Experts-In-Residence (artists, carpenters, scientists, musicians, chefs, gardeners, etc.) from the community are invited to work with the students within the school. Students travel out into the community to collect data from the field to enrich content learning. Every teacher has the dual responsibility of preparing children academically as well as nurturing and developing every child’s creative talent.
The classroom is designed to promote independence, engagement, and a sense of ownership of the environment. The classroom is equipped with a leveled library of books, math manipulatives, science equipment, computers, and many other tools that students need for hands-on, project-based learning. Children are able to access the curriculum at their own level. Teaching and learning is personalized to the maximum feasible extent so that all students experience challenge and success.
There are several different measures of results and mastery. Teachers use tests, formative assessments, and anecdotal observations. All teachers analyze student work and behavior. Students are involved in self-assessment and have several opportunities to exhibit their expertise before family and community in the form of portfolios, presentations, poetry readings, independent research projects, exhibitions, and dramas. Being able to present or exhibit work for an audience shows mastery and confidence, which is the key to success.
Literacy is taught as a lifelong pursuit. Students participate in a balanced reading program every day, which comprises activities such as: Shared Reading, Guided Reading, Independent Reading, Read Aloud, Spelling, Grammar, Phonics, Vocabulary Building, and Literature Circles.
Writing is taught across the curriculum. Students learn to write with originality and passion. They are encouraged to connect language to their inner vision and voices. They learn the entire writing process from original idea, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Select pieces are published at the end of each genre study. The genre studies include: Personal Narrative, Poetry, Non-Fiction, Research, and Fiction. Cross-curricular writing is integrated into History, Science, and Math studies.
Handwriting is taught and practiced in the classroom. Handwriting is introduced using a multiple modality program that utilizes chalkboards, water, crayons, pencils, and wooden letter pieces to help children learn to form letters correctly. Children work toward a mastery of cursive and calligraphy in the upper levels. Students also learn to copy and recite classic works of poetry.
Students learn to be mathematicians. Math lessons are daily. Our emphasis is on developing mathematical reasoning and thinking. The skills and concepts taught include: Number System, Place Value, Operations, Measurement, Geometry, Graphing, Fractions, Classification, Time, Money, Probability, Algebra, and Precalculus. The goal is for students to acquire a deep understanding of Number Sense, Computation, and Problem Solving and to be able to demonstrate computational fluency--efficiency, accuracy, and flexibility--in each of those areas.
HISTORY AND SCIENCE
History and Science are taught as combined lines of inquiry and integrated into the rest of the curriculum, incorporating literacy, writing, and math skills. We strive to uncover the truth behind history and understand science as it impacts the world and human lives. The following are some samples of whole school study topics:
Students learn the history and culture of the Mohican Native Americans. Related Science Study: Life Science/Plants and Trees and Woodland Native American Life
Students are introduced to maps, globes, continents, and oceans, and land forms. Related Science Study: Earth Science/Rocks, Sand, Soil- Geology
Students discover the diverse cultures of Africa through songs, stories, dance, art, folktales and drama. They study the culture, food, and music of Ghana. Related Science Study: Life Science/ Mammals of Africa
Students read a biography book, do independent research, and report on a person of note. Biographies have included Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Frida Kahlo, Celia Cruz, Ben Franklin, Galileo, Abraham Lincoln, and Harriet Tubman.
Other samples of study topics include:
States of Matter; Force & Motion; Life Cycles of Insects, Birds, Amphibians, or Fish; Pond/River Study; Seed Dispersal; Plants; Weather; Planets, Space, Astronomy; Colonial Life; Local Community History; Ancestry Study; Technology Throughout History; Art History; Cooking Chemistry; Ancestry Study; Commerce; Breads of the World; Ancient Civilizations; Human Migration and Immigration; Cities and Engineering; Political Systems and Forms of Government; World Mythologies.
Field trips are part of the History and Science experience. Students go into the field with questions. They return to school with data that is authentic and therefore it makes History and Science concepts tangible and meaningful for the youngest students. The local community holds many rich resources for learning and students use these resources to apply skills, construct knowledge, and understand their world.
Children will sing throughout the day and will also have weekly music classes with an Expert-in-Residence. Emphasis will be on singing and rhythm for the youngest students. Learning to play instruments and music theory begins with older students.
Each week children will explore various art mediums, techniques, histories, and concepts through a dynamic interdisciplinary arts curriculum. Special Artist-in Residents will also enrich the program by bringing their expertise to the school for unique workshops.
Theatre and Dance
Students will participate in dramatic presentations or performances throughout the year in various genres such as: musicals, dramas, and comedies. They will work with great plays written by classic and contemporary dramatists as well as engage in original playwriting, both collaboratively and independently. Performances will be for each other, for families, and for the larger community. Students will also have opportunities to study movement, dance, and choreography with Experts-in-Residence.
Children will learn to use their hands well to sew, felt, knit, build, carve, construct, engineer, garden, cook, and craft.
Children participate in biweekly Spanish classes beginning in kindergarten. Spanish is introduced to students through songs and games, progressing into more formal language study as their fluency and skills in the language advance. Latin will be taught to upper level children by an Expert-in-Residence. Older students may choose to study other foreign languages, and we will make every effort to support them in this pursuit.
Students will engage with technology as a meaningful learning tool. Technology will be used for activities such as research projects, making art, blogging, podcasting, filmmaking, as well as reaching out to the greater world. Students will engage in cross-cultural communication and connect with other classrooms around the globe. Robotics will be introduced to upper level students.
It is important that students understand lifelong principles of good health and learn to care for their minds and bodies.
The students will learn to grow and harvest vegetables either on site or as part of a Community Supported Agriculture Farm. Preparing and cooking foods provides multiple learning opportunities both socially and academically. Students will bring nutritious snacks and lunch from home each day. The children will cook at least one meal a week at school, using food that they have grown or harvested.
Long nature walks are a regular part of our school day. Various professionals work with the students to provide exercise twice a week. The activities include: movement/dance, yoga, primary physical education skills, hiking, soccer, games, and possibly snowshoeing and/or cross-country skiing.
Age appropriate mindfulness practices are woven throughout the curriculum. These include the use of chimes, quiet times, yoga-centered movements, and awareness of breath. Mindfulness practices for young children enable them to begin to recognize and to understand their emotions, build tools for social development, and learn to honor their innate capacity to connect to their world.