Refreshments were thoughtfully provided by Chef Emma Novashinski.
The New Century School‘s fifth year has been undeniably amazing. Rounding out 2014 with yet another breakthrough, Admissions Director Robin Munro announced Thursday that TNCS received a record number of K–5th applications by the 12/17/14 due date. That TNCS’s elementary program has earned its bragging rights—and is attracting hordes of new enrollees—was made clear at the Kindergarten/Elementary Information Night held 12/11/14.
The event was well organized, informative, and fun. Yummy refreshments were provided by Chef Emma Novashinski (who also gave away lovely little jars of homemade pickles), and free childcare including dinner was also offered. Recognizing that parent involvement is vital to student success, TNCS makes it so easy—no, appealing—to participate in school functions.
Elementary Program Overview
Mrs. Munro sent out an agenda before the event to help parents make the most of their time there. The schedule started with her Welcome speech, followed by a program overview by Head of School Alicia Danyali and a brief question-and-answer session. The elementary program—“where traditional and progressive education meet”—provides a solid foundation in the liberal arts by incorporating the following elements:
- Small class size: Keeping classes to no more than 16 students allows for individualized, differentiated instruction.
- Daily language classes in both Mandarin Chinese and Spanish: Younger students begin with conversation and vocabulary building. As their written English language skills progress, they begin to work on reading and writing in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Introductory character work in Chinese begins immediately.
- Specialty classes: Students have music, art, and physical education classes twice every week. Creativity is encouraged through music and art, while body awareness and health is taught in phys ed class.
- Inquiry- and skill-based curricula: We provide a solid foundation in the core subjects of language arts and mathematics, and our teachers develop auxiliary science and global studies lessons based upon student questions and interest. This approach encourages critical thinking and allows children to work to their fullest potential.
- Field trips: Teachers take students on weekly trips to our on-site greenhouse and into the school’s extended classroom, lower Fell’s Point. Students take a full-day trip at least once each quarter. Past field trips have included the Baltimore Museum of Industry, the Confucius Institute at University of Maryland College Park, the National Aquarium, and more.
- Emphasis on values: Students learn to treat others and themselves with respect.
- Mixed-age classrooms: Students to work to their skill level, not just their grade level and benefit both from mentoring and being mentored.
- Enhanced learning via technology: Students use children use multiple apps and programs, learn proper keyboarding skills, and begin to learn basic programming.
Twice weekly music lessons with the recorder have paid off!
See?! Creating art makes kids happy!
Releasing some steam on a beautiful late-Fall day!
The Daily 5 in action!
Elementary students not only enjoy mixed-age classrooms themselves, they also circulate among the other programs to mentor younger students.
Teacher’s Choice might be just about anything, but it’s always engaging and interactive!
Part of The Daily 5 is reading individually.
We have triumphed!
Exploring Fell’s Point—TNCS’s extended campus—is an exciting and enriching part of each TNCS elementary student’s school experience.
After the initial gathering, parents were asked to “self-sort” (love that new term coinage!) into three groups and rotate among the three elementary classrooms. In his classroom, Dan McGonigal, the upper elementary mathematics and science teacher, demonstrated a unit on bridge construction in the science curriculum, Engineering is Elementary (scroll below for photos of the students executing this project). Adriana DuPrau, the upper elementary English language arts and social students teacher showcased the English, Chinese, and Spanish curricula. Teresa Jacoby, the K/1st generalist teacher discussed integrating traditional Montessori materials with more progressive curricula and how she differentiates to the various levels in her class. Mrs. Danyali and Mrs. Munro circulated throughout to answer questions.
Mandarin writing notebook.
The Daily 5 corner.
Language Arts and World Languages materials
Elementary students learned how to make Family Trees this semester . . . then mad etem in both Spanish and Mandarin!
Engineering design process.
Elementary Program Philosophy and Approach
As an independent private school, TNCS does not follow the Common Core standards. Individual grade standards set forth by the Maryland State Department of Education are met—and in most cases surpassed—through the use of carefully selected curricula which best supports our mission to challenge students to realize their richest individual potential through progressive, multilingual education and meaningful participation in the world community.
Students are placed according to their birthday into one of three mixed-age classes: K/1st, 2nd/3rd, and 4th/5th. As the student body matures, upper grades will be added (through 8th) each year, accordingly. Mixing ages is part of the school’s Montessori-inspired vision. Research continues to prove what Maria Montessori observed over 100 years ago, which is that children learn best from their peers. By mixing ages, students can work to their own skill level and not be boxed in by grade-level expectations. TNCS students learn to be friends with everyone and to solve social problems without aggression.
A day in the life of a TNCS elementary student. Looks pretty engaging!
The TNCS format of mixed-age, skill-based classrooms allows our teachers to truly teach and inspire students to reach, or more typically exceed, grade expectations. Through inquiry-based lessons, TNCS teachers can educate the whole child and are not limited by the constraints of a standardized test.
Tools they use to help accomplish these goals include the following.
In Language Arts:
- The Daily 5 consists of reading to self, reading to someone else, listening to reading, writing, and doing word work.
- Junior Great Books brings high quality literature and student-centered discussions to the classroom.
- Wordly Wise 3000 improves student vocabulary.
- Singapore Math is the backbone of the mathematics program.
- Montessori math materials are used in the K/1st classroom to provide a solid foundation for the transition into Singapore Math in upper elementary.
- The Daily 3 consists of doing math individually, math writing, and doing math with someone else.
In Science and Technology:
- Engineering is Elementary allows for learning scientific principles through hands on experiments. The photos below show an example of one project in the bridge design unit.
- SuccessMaker software is aligned with national grade standards and
The budding civil engineers worked cooperatively to create a 12″-long bridge that a “barge” could pass under.
The students calculated the cost of materials and construction to help measure effective design.
They tested the bridge for strength by placing pennies on top.
Now that’s something to brag about, kids! And keep up the great work, TNCS!