Beginning and Becoming: the Holland Hall Primary School Program.
The Holland Hall Primary School includes our Preschool program, so we maintain continuity in the curriculum’s rich traditions, content, and learning celebrations as students move from the Preschool and through our Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Grade programs. Holland Hall teachers understand that learning is much more than basic skills and subject matter. It’s also about attention, temporal/sequential/spatial ordering, memory, language, neuromotor functioning, social cognition, and higher order critical thinking skills.
There are many aspects to a balanced literacy program: basic handwriting instruction, phonological awareness, phonetic instruction, sight word acquisition, reading workshop, interactive read-aloud, and writing workshop. Teachers in the Kindergarten through 3rd Grades have attended Columbia University Teachers College to learn about the reading and writing workshop approach to instruction. This approach allows students to be introduced to and independently practice learning strategies that allow them to become more independent learners. At the same time, they are working with instructional material that is appropriate for their individual skill levels. Because the program’s implementation is consistent and predictable, its design allows for both collaboration and independent work during an instructional period. Students are invested in their reading or writing and begin to identify a personal purpose for their work. This, in turn, creates an atmosphere that is goal oriented, self-motivated, and acknowledges each student’s effort and progress.
The Holland Hall Primary School’s math instruction combines active discovery with explicit instruction resulting in the understanding of concepts, processes, and fluency in skills. Math concepts include: numeration and order, operations, measurement, patterning, data and chance, geometry and spatial sense. Math processes include: problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, connections, and representations.We offer a hands-on program using assorted manipulatives, various teaching methods, and diverse grouping, as well as oral and written assignments to build mathematical concepts and create problem solvers and critical thinkers in a challenging learning environment. Our students begin learning concepts through exploration and the use of concrete math tools. As they grow in their math understanding, students progress to a symbolic level where they sketch and label their understanding of a concept or process. As their developmental thinking continues to progress, students move to a more abstract level where they manipulate algorithms, value multiple problem solving approaches, discover various solution methods, and use thinking strategies.
Science instruction moves from an exploration and observation of a Kindergartener’s environment using the five senses to the introduction of the scientific method in 1st Grade. Imagine dissecting an owl pellet with a Middle School work partner and sorting and classifying the bones you’ve found. Through the study of Monarch butterflies, bats, spiders, Alaska and inventions, our 2nd Grade students learn about life sciences, geology, and the physical sciences. By the time our students are in 3rd Grade, they’ve sufficient experience with the scientific method to communicate detailed scientific observations both orally and in written form.
Our social studies curriculum engages students in discussions and demonstrations of civic, geographical, and historical literacy. Through a variety of unit studies in each grade level, primary grade students are exposed to a wide range of cultures, customs, and traditions. In general, the social studies curriculum is integrated across the content areas and enhanced by special guest speakers and field trips. During 3rd Grade’s study of Oklahoma history, the students begin to understand the similarities and differences in how people conduct their lives and how human differences can result in conflict. They also engage in a more personal study of interpersonal relationships and problem solving during a unit of study devoted to developing empathy and conflict resolution skills – very important social and emotional learning for students about to embark upon the journey through early adolescence.