Classes at Cold Spring are multi-grade with two full-time teachers - a Head Teacher and an Associate Teacher. We believe that children acquire academic concepts and skills, and develop social/emotional abilities while being actively and meaningfully engaged in the process of learning. Through an inquiry-based approach driven by children’s interests, questions, and wonderings, our year-long thematic approach provides a framework for learning to emerge over a period of time. We adapt our instruction and balance discrete grade-specific skills in all academic areas with interests and questions generated by children and teachers within the thematic studies. We extend learning beyond the classroom walls into art, music, fitness, Spanish, and tinkering to allow for interwoven, interdisciplinary connections. Experiencing subject matter from different perspectives facilitates flexible, creative, and innovative thinking in children.
Assessment at Cold Spring School is a dynamic and ongoing process. In any given year, based on specific, skill-based academic and social/emotional goals set by teachers in partnership with parents, we assess children’s learning through careful classroom observations, anecdotal notes, informal and formal assessments, and interactions during group experiences. It is not uncommon, especially in our older grades, to have children play an active role in creating these academic and social/emotional goals- a process that is intended to lead to reflection, self awareness, and personal growth.
Music education involves helping students explore the world of sound and their connection to it. Music, being inherent to the human experience, is a natural activity for children. It has only to be guided within a fertile environment for this intrinsic nature to develop.
Rob Brereton, Music Teacher
Thematic Studies, yearlong studies focused on societal or environmental studies, provide the framework for curriculum to develop in all grades from preschool to sixth grade.
They provide opportunities for integration of curriculum across disciplines and collaboration between classroom and special area teachers. The teaching of facts and skills is balanced with the creativity, discovery, and wonder to which thematic studies naturally lead. Through the lens of thematic studies, children get practice in working through long-term projects that extend for months, even the full year. Students actively engage in research with the expectation of presenting their learning by writing papers, building models, or public speaking at the end of their studies. Some examples of thematic studies include marine sciences, personal histories, sustainable societies, crossing borders, the natural world, and more.