GW Elementary School Weekly Tour Launch a Great Success and Touch Upon Core Curriculum.

Students organize a tour of the GW Elementary School. Their auditorium is big and beautiful.

Students organize a tour of the GW Elementary School. Their auditorium is big and beautiful.

Today’s launch of the weekly tours at the GW Elementary School were as informative as they were impressive. Completely prepared with clipboards and notes, the students were organized, professional and really knew their stuff.  There wasn’t a question that they couldn’t answer that had to do with the classrooms, teachers, special classes and more.

What is always remarkable about the GW Elementary School is the calm and respect given to the children throughout and it really shows in the way the students led today.

Touring the Children’s House (Pre-K and K: 4-5 year olds), Elementary I (1/2/3 grades) and Elementary II (4/5 grades)

Upon arrival and sign-in, the students walked us to the downstairs ‘Children’s House” where they requested that we “whisper” and that “that’s the way we speak to the children in pre-k. Soft voices and with dignity, courtesy and respect.”

 

Ms. Karen works with students in the Children's House.

Ms. Karen works with students in the Children’s House.

 

After a great start, we continued on and back to the main floor where we were shown each and every Elementary I classroom greeted by and invited into the work space by students and teachers.  Some of the children were in the hallway doing their work, as many of the classrooms are filled to capacity. Teachers at the GW School are having to do so mostly without TA’s (teaching assistants).  Still somehow, the calm that was present throughout continued to amaze us as we entered room after room to smiles, respect and concentration.

 

The work that adorns the walls all throughout the school.  The Montessori "Peace Rose", a positive approach for youth using redirection, communication and conflict resolution,  was seen in classrooms and hallways throughout.

The work that adorns the walls all throughout the school. The Montessori “Peace Rose”, a positive approach for youth using redirection, communication and conflict resolution, was seen in classrooms and hallways throughout.

 

The school cafeteria, which most of the time are quite drab here instead are light and open with many of the tables set with fresh flowers for the children. It reminded me some of another type of approach to early education – also Italian in fact – known as REGGIO EMILIA where the physical environment being beautiful and organized is of the essence.

Recently, the PTO raised $10,000 to purchase “Sound Clouds” in the cafeteria to help improve sound levels due to high ceilings and a great deal of concrete throughout. The group awaits the district to install them, and everyone is hopeful that that will occur by springtime at the latest.  Our PTO looks forward to the continual improvement to the environment and the food choices in the cafeteria which is so important to us.

 

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The school cafeteria was bright and airy. Students artwork hung on the walls and fresh flowers were placed on many of the lunch tables.

 

On the third floor, we were shown Elementary II (4th/5th grades) where the student leaders spend most of their time each day. You could tell how much they appreciated their teachers and vice versa as the students were met at the door with congratulations and kind words.

Some of the upper classrooms are mixed with both traditional and Montessori methods in teaching. Not long ago, a single classroom had a whooping thirty one (31) students without any TA (teacher assistants) support. Recently, the school was able to create two classrooms and split the students. “It is so much better now” the girls relayed.

One of the fifth grade teachers explained her observation in how a student benefits by combining the two and how relevant it is as the children transition from Elementary to Middle School. “I find that in the top grades, it’s really nice to be able to implement traditional with Montessori in the classroom.”

The teachers of the 4/5 grades are doing a terrific job with that transition, too – as noted in the report written by Dr. Sean Walmsley.  He found that: “Perhaps the most persuasive evidence (“How successfully is GW meeting student needs as defined in terms of Montessori goals?”) comes from Bailey Middle School educators, both in interviews and surveys. Many who responded were especially pleased with GW students’ behavior, their ability to mediate interpersonal disagreements peacefully, their independent learning, and their adaptability to a middle school environment.”

 

Core Curriculum 

It occurred to us that todays tour was a very effective and creative approach in implementing core curriculum standards mandated by the State (for English Language Arts & Literacy  in History/Social Studies/Science and Technical Subjects). In “Speaking and Listening” K-5 are expected to “participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners…and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups”.

The students are required to be able to “tell stories or recount experiences with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.”   On the subject of “Research to Build and Present Knowledge” the students had done their homework, researching the school, the principles of Montessori and understood traditional methods and their differences by “participating in shared research and writing projects” to relay this morning.  As parents, we appreciate the school creating real life experiences to implement the mandated core curriculum whenever possible. 

We realized too that the GW Elementary School’s second graders who have come through the Montessori program since Pre-K (being exposed to the philosophy for a total of five years now) will be coming into their mandatory standardized test taking time…next year.  Given what we witnessed today we look forward to seeing those results and expect to celebrate our children and their teachers success.

 

Weekly Tours

All-in-all, today’s tour was just under 30 minutes and very inspiring. It is consistent with all that we have seen each and every time that we visit – but it was extra special to have a chance to enter into so many classrooms and to witness the philosophy at work.  Like all of the schools in our district, the teachers work hard to build their ‘family’ community on behalf of our children. It’s important for the parents to play a major role in this and to do so by working together. All of us.

The students will continue to provide a weekly tour (and the leaders will rotate giving everyone a chance to speak to the group when guests arrive) on Tuesday’s from 9:30am – 10:30am.

For more information, visit this LINK.

 

The GW Elementary Library on the top floor.

The GW Elementary Library on the top floor.

 

The "New Visions" program has its own space and hosts High School students who are trained to help work and to be mentors in the GW Elementary School.Classroom.

The “New Visions” program has its own space and hosts High School students who are trained to help work and to be mentors in the GW Elementary school classroom.