The Book Nook Curriculum
The Book Nook is a cozy, creative environment where students are encouraged to explore and challenge their understanding of the world. Students have a central part in creating this environment, with samples of their work and contributions visible throughout the classroom. The room’s physical arrangement is designed to foster inquiry, investigation, and ingenuity. Upon entry into the Book Nook, a student will see various learning spaces including group meeting areas, a library, a craft station, and clustered seating arrangements.
First and foremost, the teacher’s role in the classroom is as a facilitator of learning, whether that be via a group mini-lesson, an individual conference, or a small group targeted tutorial. The goal is that every student is consistently highly engaged in educational activities. Therefore, careful instruction and guidance is given to each child with consideration for learning style, academic abilities, developmental levels, social skills, motivation and interests, and any other extenuating circumstance.
While the Book Nook classroom is the “home base” for Kindergarten through Second Graders, students from other classrooms may join the class at various points of the day to mentor the younger students or to join in on a lesson that is academically appropriate for that student. In a similar manner, students from the Book Nook may go to the Blue Room for math, spelling or another subject lesson. Transitions into other classrooms are routine and acceptable at CVIS and students are comfortable in any of the environments here. Students don’t feel conspicuous, but rather, each student enjoys being appropriately challenged without feeling overwhelmed.
The students of the Book Nook have a regular routine and schedule that is crafted to give the students a rich academic day and guide students into making the most of learning opportunities. The schedule for the 2010-2011 year is as follows:
- 8:30 All-school gathering: singing, book talks, science and more
- 8:45 Brain Gym, Choice reading (individual, partner, or with teacher)
- 9:15 Writer’s workshop
- 10:00 Recess and snack
- 10:30 Math and reading groups
- 12:00 Recess
- 12:30 Lunch
- 1:00 Specials: P.E., Art, All-School Science, Choir
- 1:45 Spelling
- 2:15 Spanish/handwriting
- 2:30 Theme
- 3:15 End of Day
*Note: Wednesdays are a half day and school ends at 12:30.
Literature-based reading program: The literature-based reading program at CVIS is exemplified in the Book Nook with books of all genres flooding the classroom. Children enjoy using this literature daily as they explore thematic studies, delve into a scientific phenomenon, partner read in the library, work on a reading lesson, or practice for a reader’s theater production.
Phonemic awareness: Music, rhymes, and rhythm, along with many other games to promote phonemic awareness are integrated into the morning circle and targeted small-group mini-lessons.
ZooPhonics: Beginning readers have daily ZooPhonics lessons where they learn letter/sound relationships with accompanying kinesthetic movements. The ZooPhonics program takes the students through simple consonant-vowel-consonant words.
Phonics: Explicit phonics instruction, using Rebecca Sitton and other programs, continues throughout the first grade. Rebecca Sitton is used at CVIS through the 8th grade.
Read Aloud: Students learn book language through read aloud. They also build vocabulary, gain background knowledge, have fluency modeled, are able to participate in discussions, and learn to love books! The Book Nook class enjoys at least two read alouds per day.
Browsing Baskets: Children have their own baskets in which to keep current reading material. They are taught to choose “just right”, “too easy”, and “too hard” texts to help them with literature choices and self-evaluation. Time is set aside daily for DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) where children access these baskets.
Mini-Lessons: Explicit instruction for comprehension and other components of reading shows students how to make meaningful connections and inferences, ask questions, make predictions, synthesize new learning, and make personal reflections when appropriate. Students then have opportunity to try out these strategies and report back to the class.
Vocabulary: Vocabulary building is embedded throughout the day of the Book Nook student. Students are encouraged to note unfamiliar words in their reading and to bring these words to book discussions or add them to the Vocabulary Booster Board. Likewise, teachers challenge students with new vocabulary, especially during theme and read-aloud. Older students are encouraged to use the dictionary often and teachers model dictionary usage regularly.
Wonderful Word Writing (WWW) and spelling:
Early and fluent readers enjoy WWW activities daily to help learn the “rules” (and exceptions to the rules) of the English language. CVIS uses Rebecca Sitton’s Spelling and Word Source curriculum which is a hands-on, interactive approach to teaching spelling rules, affix usage, word study, synonyms/antonyms, similes and metaphor, idioms, phonics, writing conventions, proofreading, and more!
Journaling is a common part of the CVIS day. Students may respond to reading, math, and science in journals. Responses at the kindergarten level may be pictoral only.
Lucy Calkins Writing Instruction: Students are taught to think and act like a writer through the observation and discussion of good writing in stories and literature. Writing Lessons include mini-lessons where strategies, concepts or skills are taught and modeled; active engagement where the students apply knowledge learned; and most importantly, lots of time to write! Student-teacher conferencing takes place during writing, and emphasis at this time is placed on content and expression, not on spelling and conventions. One of the highlights of the writing lesson is sharing of student work; students love to read their pieces out loud and hear positive feedback from their peers.
As the year progresses, students learn and apply the whole writing process several times. This process includes idea formation, rough draft, revision, editing, final draft, and publishing. The art of revision has a special emphasis since true writing is a constant dance between the draft and revision stages.
The kindergarten through fifth grade students use the Bridges in Mathematics curriculum, which is designed to meet the standards established by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and is solidly aligned with the latest Washington state math standards. It has been given a top rating by state curriculum reviewers. The goal of the Bridges curriculum is to provide students with the skills necessary for mathematical fluency and confident problem solving. Students working at an advanced level may have instruction with the Blue Room students.
Components of the Bridges program include:
Calendar and Number Corner: Children learn to make hypotheses about patterns they are seeing unfold as the month progresses. They learn to communicate their ideas, test their hypotheses and adjust their thinking. Exposure and practice with time, tallying, temperature, and money take place during Number Corner.
Building Number Sense: In the early elementary years, it is critical that children formulate conceptually true and concrete understandings of numbers and place value (ones, tens, hundreds, thousands). Children learn the correlation between counting by ones, fives and tens. Children also learn the concepts of addition and subtraction and practice approaches for quick computation of facts to 20. Older students will learn strategies for double digit addition and subtraction. Those who are ready will explore multiplication and division concepts and will work with larger numbers.
Building Pre-Algebraic Skills Through Patterning: Children create, build and extend basic repeating patterns and complex growing patterns using Unifix cubes, pattern blocks, Geoblocks, beads, drawings, and more.
Geometry: Students learn basic geometric terminology, gain understanding of perspective, build various 3-D figures and solve geometry puzzles.
Problem Solving: Children learn problem solving skills through questioning the question. What is and isn’t important information? What type of answer do they want? How can I solve this with pictures, words, and/or numbers?
Math work Places: Students have plenty of time to practice their learning through fun and interactive games.
Science experiments and inquiry-based learning programs are the heart of science at CVIS. Students are given materials and challenges. They work together to make predictions and find solutions. Children learn to listen to each other’s ideas, appropriately agree or disagree and work collaboratively toward resolution.
Observation and journaling of natural phenomenon, such as watching the stages of a butterfly’s life cycle, help encourage curiosity and inquiry.
Through review of children’s scientific periodicals, students learn to read for content. Even the non-readers enjoy the pictures and discussions.
All-School Science: Book Nook students participate in all-school science lessons once per week. These lessons have a year long focus and sample topics include measuring time, motion and design, ecosystems, and electric currents.
Theme-Based Science: As part of Theme, students may visit a salmon hatchery while learning about the salmon life cycle in connection to studying Native Americans of the NW region; create their own hypotheses on bean growth, grow their own bean plants, journal their observations, and chart their results during black history month while studying George Washington Carver; or create their own model of a well-known bridge and present an oral and written report of that bridge during the machines and inventions theme. Many more examples exist!
Social Studies: Like science, social studies is largely integrated into theme studies. Literature is a central tool since learning in a contextual setting enhances comprehension and retention and brings history, geography, and cultural diversity to life. Topics covered in the Book Nook include:
Civics and Economics: Students learn the basics of civics (freedom, rights and responsibilities, etc) in the context of the classroom, family and community through projects and field trips.
History: The concept of timelines is introduced by learning to sequence events in student’s own lives first and then their family’s and community’s. Discussion focuses on the concept of change; how people and things change over time.
Cultural Diversity and Perspective is studied using literature as a catalyst for discussion, simulations and projects. Emphasis is placed on the concepts of viewpoint and perspective, with concrete examples seen around holidays and celebrations. Students are challenged to make comparisons and contrasts.
Geography: Students learn spatial perspective through games and drawings and apply these concepts to the classroom and then the community. Global concepts are introduced throughout the year through games and regular reference to the world map and globe.
Theme: Themes rotate between Communities, Energy-Machines-Inventions, Earth Sciences and The Ancients. Topics covered in past years have included:
- Our classroom community
- Our local agricultural community: comparing and contrasting small family farms and commercial farms
- Communities around the World: An art and literature study
- The Giraffe Club: Community leaders stick their neck out
- Community cooking: Bread around the world
- Animal communities: A research project
- Pollution: A community issue
Energy, Inventions and Machines
- Primary Physics: Sound, light and heat
- Inventor spotlight: Leonardo DaVinci and others
- Bridges: A mathematical, scientific, and historical research project
- Inventive processes: Vine to wine, goat to cheese, etc
- Botany/biology: Growing a plant in different conditions, photosynthesis
The Ancients- Native peoples/First nations
- The salmon life cycle
- Por Quoi legends: a reading and writing comparison
- Children Of The Earth And Sky: A five tribe comparison; a look into viewpoint and perspective
- Moons of the Year: Studies Native American history of studying months of the year
- Native American Stereotypes: Myth and fact
- Plants and People: Native plants and their uses
- Moon Journals: Science, art and poetry
- Native American Houses: A research project
P.E. takes place weekly in the afternoons and includes exposure to the fundamentals of many sports and recreational activities. Students also learn some basic health and fitness vocabulary and are encouraged to consider fitness as a life-long commitment.
Art is taught by CVIS’s art teacher and takes place 1-2 afternoons per week. The main goal of early art is to promote art literacy by introducing students to a variety of art mediums, like clay, paint, felting and paper maché, and to expose students to expression through visual art. Students have an integral part in the creation of the set and props for the all-school play each spring.
All students enjoy choir weekly with the K-8th grade students. Additionally, they enjoy singing as part of the musical production each spring. Professional instruction teaches students to maximize their singing potential via proper body posture and breathing, vocal warm-ups, dynamics, intonation and exploring a variety of musical styles. Students learn beginning harmonies through round singing and simple two-part singing. Music is explored from a variety of themes, cultures, and holiday traditions.
Children learn beginning Spanish vocabulary, speech, and songs through the Subé program.