As we continue to nurture Red Oak Community School’s growth, our curriculum vision can best be described as a “Quilting Approach.” We are taking ideas and inspiration from a variety of sources and stitching them together into a beautiful, unique whole. Our influences include Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, and Vygotsky. We are building a framework from the Ohio Learning Standards* and the Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines for Learning. Our focus is on the three domains of early childhood development: cognitive, physical, and social-emotional. We anticipate integrating life skills and practical knowledge, such as gardening and first aid. We envision a curriculum that is immersive, integrated, and emergent.
-Maureen Alley, MEd
Head Teacher, Red Oak Community School Curriculum Committee
*Red Oak Community School will meet the academic requirements set forth by the Ohio Department of Education in order to be registered as a Non-Chartered Non-Tax school.
At Red Oak Community School we will use a Balanced Literacy approach. Students will build early literacy skills such as phonemic awareness and phonics through an integrated curriculum of songs, stories, and games.
Decoding skills and reading strategies will be taught during read aloud, shared reading, guided reading, and individual conferencing. Assessment will be on-going and formative, including running records and informal book chats.
Students at Red Oak will be immersed in literacy through a print-rich environment and given ample opportunities to engage with literature, nurturing a lifelong appreciation of reading. All readers at Red Oak will engage with fiction and nonfiction texts, following their individual interests. Students will learn to make increasingly sophisticated connections between books, themselves, and the world.
One of the tools students will use during reading and across the curriculum is Thinking Maps. Thinking Maps are graphic organizers that assist students in categorizing, comparing, contrasting, and sequencing information.
Red Oak’s writing curriculum will be a Writer’s Workshop. Writer’s Workshop is a process in which students take their writing through the stages of planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Throughout this process students will explore their voice as writers as they practice writing for different purposes and audiences.
Students will share their writing with each other and with adults in their lives during the stages of the workshop and during writers’ celebrations where we will showcase our finished work.
One of the most powerful integrations of curriculum comes when students learn that readers write and writers read. Through their developing appreciation of language arts students at Red Oak will learn to identify and then use conventions of writing as they see them while reading. Students begin with inventive spelling, then progress towards conventional spelling and grammar. Students will not be assigned spelling lists or weekly tests, instead we will explore the rules of written English and the many, many exceptions to those rules.
The program we use will include concepts of early numeracy such as one-to-one correspondence, numeral recognition, more and less, sorting, cardinality and number sense. As students grow in their math learning, we will include explorations of computation, algebraic thinking, geometry and measurement, and data analysis. Math at Red Oak will be constructivist, with students creating their own meaning and methods, guided by teachers who are skilled at using lines of questioning to draw out concept comprehension. Math will be engaging and hands on with real-life applications and manipulatives to illustrate concepts.
At Red Oak we will use an inquiry-based project approach to science. Essentially this means that the students will wonder, ask questions, and figure out how to answer their questions using critical thinking, information-gathering, and the scientific method with an emphasis on hypothesis-testing. We will cover the three main branches of science, Life, Physical, and Earth in the course of our inquiries while using nature and our natural space as both inspiration and testing ground. One of our main focal points will be a garden, which is ideal for teaching science and math.
When exploring social studies, students do best when they start with themselves and expand outward. At Red Oak our social studies curriculum will include Self, Community, and World. We will explore personal timelines, what it means to be a part of community, and social justice. This curriculum is project based, where we will identify real life problems to investigate and integrate all the academic skills to solve the problem.
Outdoor Environmental Education.
Outdoor environmental education (EE) is a key pillar in Red Oak Community School’s (ROCS) Curriculum. EE provides students an alternative to traditional classroom education that encourages environmental literacy, reduced disciplinary issues, overall higher test scores, and a love of learning. Outdoor education provides emotional, physical and cognitive benefits to students while providing a learning environment that encourages students to explore themselves in relation to their community and the natural world to make informed decisions. Students immersed in EE at ROCS will learn traditional classroom lessons in Math, Social Studies, English Language Arts and Science through place-based environmental education. Ohio State Standards will provide a framework for ROCS’s written curriculum with the students’ interests and curiosities guiding the learning. Formative assessments will be ongoing to help the students track their learning and goals and to aid the teachers in adjusting the direction of the curriculum. We understand that students can learn information in different ways, so teachers will honor this by providing a variety of opportunities for students that appeal to a variety of learning styles.
Below you will find an example of how students can plan, prepare, plant, grow, harvest, use and put to rest a 3 sisters garden (corn, beans, and squash) using across-curricular approach. Ohio State Learning Standards are identified using the grade level they are associated with in parenthesis.