Students arrive at school between 8 and 9. Class officially starts at 9 with Open Time, where students ease into the morning by choosing an activity to work on either collaboratively or independently. Popular choices are building with blocks or legos, creating art with a variety of supplies, building inventions from a box of reused materials, reading, and making up plays.
The younger group of students joins the 1st/2nd grade class for Body Works (physical education), and the older students have silent reading time. They choose their own novels to read, and are also assigned non-fiction science and social studies books.
When the younger students return, the whole class sits down for a morning meeting. They discuss the calendar, what’s in store for them on the schedule that day, share any news from home, and sometimes share things they created during open time such as an invention or a play. Some mornings Jen writes a morning message full of misspellings and grammatical errors for them to correct before they answer the question. Other times they warm up their brains with some “minute math”.
After meeting the group often works on math. Some days this means working in their individual math books (with lots of peer tutoring and use of manipulatives). Other days this means working at math stations where the older students solve math mysteries while the younger students work on manipulative-based projects like creating shapes with pattern blocks, weighing and measuring objects around the room, or figuring out operations using unifix cubes or cuisinaire rods. Once a year the whole class works on the “Businesses Project” during math time, a curriculum piece created by 3rd/4th grade teacher Jeremy Goodrich. Students use geometry to “build” a house on graph paper, write a business plan and then buy and sell imaginary goods and services to each other, learn to write checks and balance a checkbook, and draw the things they buy into their houses.
Mid-morning, the students take a break. For about 15 minutes they go outside, play dodgeball or shoot hoops in the gym, draw, or eat a snack from their lunch.
After break the Kindergarteners have the choice to join the ECP for extra recess. Sometimes they choose to go play, at other times they choose to stay. This is usually Language Arts time. Some days Jen pulls small groups for mini-lessons or does a writing activity with the whole group. Often students free-write in their journals. They make up stories or write about what’s going on in their lives, or at other times they work on research and writing relating to the theme. Many students collaborate on stories. When they finish they usually read, either silently or aloud to one another.
Lunch and recess is an hour-long block from noon to one. Students can choose to eat and play anywhere on the school grounds, within boundaries that are based on their age. One student is lunch monitor every day, which means they eat in the classroom and make sure other students clean up after themselves.
After lunch the class often works on projects and activities relating to the current theme. This work varies, and lessons are taught to the whole group, to small groups, or to individuals at different times. At certain times throughout the year, students work on independent research.
Some months are Exploration months, so students are at their mini-elective classes with other students and teachers throughout the school.
Mid-afternoon there is a ten minute break.
The older group of students goes to Body Works (physical education), while the younger students read. Their abilities vary widely, from early emergent readers to fluent readers. The teacher may work one-on-one with certain students or with a small group. More accomplished readers may read to emergent readers or vice versa, while some students may listen to books-on-CD at the listening station.
Read-aloud happens nearly every day. Lana reads a variety of fiction to the students – popular choices have included The BFG, The Watsons go to Birmingham, Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing, and Holes.
All Harmony students participate in clean-up for the last 15 minutes of the day. Our jobs include vacuuming the classroom, erasing the chalkboards, sharpening pencils, and taking care of class pets.