Lower School


Lower School Curriculum

The Lower School curriculum encompasses the core subjects of language arts, social studies, science and math as well as art, technology, music, Spanish, woodshop and more for a well-rounded liberal arts education. The following explain the curriculum by grade:

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    First grade is an exciting year. We believe each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, engaging, caring and stimulating environment in which to grow. The curriculum focuses on helping the students develop emotionally, cognitively, socially and physically. The first grade teachers strive to support students in reaching their fullest potential in these areas. Throughout the day students are actively engaged in learning experiences that enhance self-esteem, value cultural diversity and foster individual talents.
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    The development of independence in each student is a yearlong goal of the second grade. Children are encouraged to assume increasing personal responsibility for their assignments and their materials, as well as for their words and actions. We believe that learning is social, and our approach includes whole and small group instruction as well as cooperative learning experiences. By providing experiences and feedback that help students learn socially and academically, the second grade program aims for students to become self-advocates, critical thinkers and problem solvers as well as feel confident in the skills they need to meet life’s challenges.
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    Third grade provides a supportive and stimulating environment in which students can strengthen and develop both their academic and social skills. Third grade offers a wide range of activities and experiences that foster independence, and fortify and build upon the foundation of knowledge that students have acquired thus far in Lower School. Embedded within the third grade language arts, math, global studies and character education programs is a core skill set that aids students in their ability to think, listen, problem solve and effectively communicate with the world around them.
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    Fourth grade provides a safe and nurturing environment to facilitate learning and personal growth. The last year of Lower School is a journey toward independence and responsibility for each student both as a learner and as a member of our community. Hands-on experience, practice and reinforcement of skills, and enrichment opportunities provide a well-rounded curriculum appropriate for students of this age.
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    We believe that to meet the challenges of teaching literacy in the 21st century, we must be current with the latest research and best practices. To most effectively meet our students where they are and ensure their movement forward in their ability to decode and think deeply about increasingly complex texts, our instruction is designed to be individualized and flexible.  

    The Lower School implements a Balanced Literacy Framework based on a set of comprehensive principles to ensure excellent instruction for our students.
    We believe that all children should receive:
    - Early reading instruction that meets individual needs
    - Literacy instruction that includes phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency and comprehension strategies
    - Teaching that builds skill and the desire to read increasingly complex materials
    - Instruction that emphasizes high-volume, high-success, high-interest reading materials and extended time to spend reading
    - Flexible instructional groups
    - A variety of books and other reading material in their classrooms and school library
    - Assessment that identifies strengths as well as needs and involves students in making decisions about their own learning
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  • Components of Balanced Literacy

    Read Aloud: “I’ll take care of the words. You just listen and think.”
    Reading Workshop: “You can live the life of an avid reader.”
    Word Work (phonics, phonemic awareness, etc.): “We look closely at letters and words to help us read.”
    Shared Reading: “We are all readers and we can do strong reading work together!” 
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  • Reading Workshop at a Glance

    Teachers engage students at each level of their understanding by providing them first with explicit instruction, then guided practice, and finally practice using skills independently.
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  • Understanding Reading Comprehension Levels

    At Tower Hill we believe it is important for teachers to match students with a text that has the “just right” level of complexity. We use the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System (F&P) to determine students’ independent and instructional reading levels. Teachers observe student reading behaviors one-on-one, engage in comprehension conversations that go beyond retelling and make informed decisions that connect the assessment to instruction. 
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  • Comparison of Traditional and Guided Reading Groups

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    Our Math Lab provides developmentally appropriate instruction for each Lower School student. In a dynamic and supportive environment, students explore mathematical concepts by using a variety of manipulative materials. They are encouraged to think of multiple solutions to ensure deeper understanding and cultivate curiosity.
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    In our increasingly global society, the ability to build knowledge and transfer it to ever-changing environments is crucial. Our students will need to be innovative, flexible thinkers who apply knowledge creatively and collaboratively as they become active problem solvers. Our library operates as a Learning Commons, actively empowering students as readers and encouraging them to explore their natural curiosity as they build knowledge.
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  • What is a Makerspace?

    Makerspaces are open learning environments where students gather to create, invent and build knowledge and skills, typically by working on physical projects. Makerspaces build 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, creativity and communication in a unique way that goes beyond the constraints of a traditional classroom. Our maker education curriculum seeks to:
    - Provide access to a wide variety of tools and technology
    - Facilitate group interaction, knowledge and resource sharing
    - Supply access to a physical space for individual project development
    - Provide an open environment for expression of creativity and innovation
    - Offer access to equipment for prototyping project ideas
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    AMAZE is an anti-biased educational program that helps initiate guided conversations about each student’s lives and experiences, while creating safe, welcoming space for children to be curious and ask questions about differences. AMAZE provides windows and mirrors through quality picture books that help students learn about each other while seeing themselves or their experiences reflected in classroom literature. More information.