Portland Progressive Kindergarten & First Grade | Diamond Class

Diamond student engages in pattern creation with blocks.

Five and Six year-olds at Summa Academy

The mixed-age classroom of Diamond students, comprised of children in kindergarten and first grades, brim with excitement. The schedule includes Sound to Symbol Praxis, cocoon to butterfly observation, pattern recognition games with manipulatives, and measuring distance by rolling giant tires in the outdoor Playscape.

Summa educators, aware that Diamond students learn primarily through sensory experience, create varied and textured curricula to bring forth Academic Excellence in each student. They know that students have widely different learning modes and skill sets.

Although some children are reading beginner chapter books; others are just learning letters. The same variance holds for logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, and interpersonal skills.

Using Summa’s progressive school philosophy as a guide, learning activities are designed to provide opportunity for successful engagement at each developmental level.

Ms. Corbett

Ms. Corbett
(Master of Science in Early Childhood and Elementary Education)
Colleen comes to us with ten years of teaching experience with young students. Most recently she was the second grade head teacher at Little Red School House in New York, NY. Frequent staff meetings and in-service days allow open, honest reflection that deepens trust and respect. In the meetings we consider the students from every class. Then, when I am with them during Physical Activity and Project-Based Learning, I can organize the lesson to meet their strengths.
I think every teacher wishes for more meaningful parent participation. Summa provides that opportunity and the payoff is obvious and instantaneous. School supports home; home supports school. The student, secure in this alliance, prospers in all learning.

Academic Excellence

Diamond students work with playdough and numbers.

Summa educators, aware that Diamond students learn primarily through sensory experience, create varied and textured curricula to bring forth Academic Excellence in each student. They know that students have widely different learning modes and skill sets.

Although some children are reading beginner chapter books; others are just learning letters. The same variance holds for logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, and interpersonal skills.

Using Summa’s progressive school philosophy as a guide, learning activities are designed to provide opportunity for successful engagement at each developmental level. All skills, for example, are included in Sound to Symbol Praxis.

The genius of the Sound to Symbol Praxis approach lies in creating music out of our everyday speech and using those sounds to find the syllables, and then the written symbols of language.

With this approach, reading ability soars, along with math, interpersonal relationships, art, and movement during this fun-filled musical activity.

Math lessons focus on number facility—such as skip counting, addition, and subtraction—as well as shape and proportion recognition.

Science centers on life in the natural world, observing life cycles, how things work, weather cycles, simple experimentation and investigation.
Educator and parent collaborate on the Personal Learning Plan at the beginning of the year to ensure strengths and challenges are well understood. Your child’s educators track progress with bi-weekly student notes that are shared with you, the parents.

Three times a year, parent/educator conferences focus on a detailed summary assessment of the academic proficiencies accomplished that term.

As the year progresses and a student grows personally, socially, and academically, parents see this progress as additional proficiencies are added to the assessment.

Emotional Intelligence

They are our future, holding the world in their hands!

Five and six year-old children are body-centered. They mediate their world by its sensory qualities. At the core, they need a sense of Rightful Place, to know they belong. Therefore Summa Educators assure Diamonds of safety and security.

The environment is designed to be flexible and open to curious investigation. Boundaries are firm, yet always done with care and warmth. This allows the students to feel secure and explore, while still giving them the framework for what makes a safe learning environment.

Our Diamond student touch their world with all their senses, including the psychological and emotional. Summa educators meet them on every level. This allows Emotional Intelligence to thrive. It also brings about surprising emergent expressions of Emotional Intelligence.

Experiential Learning

Diamond student practices phonics with Sound to Symbol

Experiential learning saturates the kindergarten and first grade student’s Diamond classroom. Because students of this age learn best through their bodies in a sensory rich environment, experiential learning is the principle teaching mode for Diamond students. At Summa, even free play becomes an opportunity for experiential learning.
Each and every day, unstructured free play is skillfully used for learning. Although Summa Academy is located in downtown Portland, we have two fully-fenced, natural adventure playscapes where children can play and explore.

Tires, huge and small, varied sized wood rounds, boulders, an outdoor mud kitchen, and all sorts of balls invite student creativity. The educator talks with the children about relative size and weight, speed, cooperation, body awareness, and conflict resolution during the play. Later, in the classroom, these conversations turn into projects that improve Academic Excellence and Emotional Intelligence. She has a plethora of teaching tools at her disposal and fits the tool to the student so that learning is natural, joyful.
Here’s one of many examples of experiential learning in the classroom:

The educator’s voice calls out in song, the chorus of Diamond voices answer:

“I am passing letters, around and around. And when they stop, you will pick one, just one.”

The students answer:

“When you stop, we will pick one, just one.”

And then there is silence as the bag of letters stops at one child, a letter is picked from the bag and then the child calls out, “L!”

“Oooo, L that is a great letter. What do we know that starts with L?”

The educator asks.

And then the chorus of little voices begins again calling out all the L words they can think of through their laughter.

Later, the L words will become part of a story. Then the story will be written down with blank spaces left where the children fill in the new L words they have discovered.

Physical Activity

Chin ups are a great way to move your body!

Brain research shows that morning physical activity promotes cognitive and behavioral competence. At Summa, the entire school does thirty minutes of physical exercise each morning. Activities vary, and there is always a choice between two activities.

Some examples include Tae Kwon Do, dance, soccer and ball skills, relay races, and cooperative games. On most mornings, the Diamond students join the rest of the student body for physical exercise. On other mornings the Diamonds go outside to their natural playscape for morning exercise.

In addition, throughout the day, educators take the students outside for either free play or organized games when they see the need for “body breaks”.

Art

In addition to the many art project in the classroom throughout the week, every Friday Diamond students (kindergarten and first grade) join the Sapphire students (second and third grade) to participate in formal art class.

Both well-known and lesser-known artists are studied and their stylistic innovations sampled. Art projects vary and technique and creativity are valued. In addition to formal hour-long weekly art classes, our budding artists often engage in other artistic projects throughout the week.

Using Summa’s well-supplied large art studio they enhance their skills as they learn by doing. Mediums we explore range from stone to clay, wood to paint, watercolor to charcoal.

Students are proud of their work, and are given the chance to display it in the lunch room at the end of each section.

A Day in the Life of a Diamond Student

Art is more fun with a friend!

9:00 - Morning Meeting
9:30 - Physical Activity
10:00 - Snack
10:15 - Language Arts
11:00 - Math
11:15 - Body Break
11:30 - Free Time
12:30 - Lunch
12:50 - Recess
1:20 - Story Time
1:30 - Science
2:15 - Project-Based Learning
3:15 - Clean-up and Closing Circle
3:30 - Pick-up