Academics & Curriculum
The Interdisciplinary Educational Approach
Each unit of study that students explore across the year in Roberts Field is interdisciplinary in nature. A topic or time period from social studies or science serves as a curricular thread woven through students’ learning and expression in the arts, language, literature, mathematics, and engineering. In this way, students come to authentically know, internalize, and deeply understand the content through ongoing opportunities for exploration across all disciplines.
These interdisciplinary units are each grounded in an overarching theme for the whole year, and across the school each class's studies change in time in varying ways: in Terra (Kindergarten & Grade 1) the topic is World Travel: How People and Nature are Interconnected, in Lyra (Grades 2 & 3) the topic is The Ever Changing Earth and in Aquila (Grades 4 & 5) it is Change Over Time: Justice and Equity in America
These unit topics are intentionally broad so as to encompass many different aspects of the world around us, both before and after us. The themes also build across classes and ages in order to offer a meaningful and connected learning experience that increases in depth year after year. While the class themes remain similar each year, the specific units of study change, so that a child who remains in a blended grade has an opportunity to explore new content and concepts.
Children develop their skills in each discipline while deepening their knowledge of a particular topic through classroom experiences including environmental investigations, mathematic problems, visual and performing arts, music, narrative and expository writing, and literature rooted in the current unit of study. There is also room for self-directed inquiry into scientific, historical, anthropological, and cultural studies in relation to the established topics.
Children’s academic development intersects with their artistic and creative development through two of the most unique aspects of the Roberts Field experience: The Day in the Field and Workshop.
Ensuring Our Graduates' Success
As educators and leaders at Roberts Field we are wholly committed to ensuring that each individual student is provided what they need academically in order to continue to succeed once they move on to other educational centers and middle schools beyond RFS. Specifically, this means that at the 4th and 5th grade level we are continuously staying aware of and up to date with necessary matriculation standards and others that require a certain level of academic challenge, test proficiency, and traditional performance in order for our graduates to have a strong and comprehensive educational foundation beyond us.
We continue to partner with area private and public schools to communicate clearly about the elements most necessary to strongly and holistically graduate our elementary students. This informs our ongoing implementation of academic standards, practices, and offerings, particularly in our 4th and 5th grade classrooms.
English Language Arts
English Language Arts encompasses one’s communication through and comprehension of both the written and spoken word. The Roberts Field ELA curriculum centers on developing children’s joyful engagement with text as they expand their capacity in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. As children explore these aspects of language arts, they concurrently deepen their knowledge of the thematic unit of study.
At Roberts Field, children grow as readers through a combination of whole class, small group, and independent experiences. Teachers regularly model strategies for the whole class as they read aloud from complex texts—both narrative and informational— which are anchored in the current interdisciplinary unit of study. These shared reading experiences also offer an opportunity for children to have meaningful discussion around higher level, complex text, and to determine the meaning of challenging vocabulary words in context with the
support of their teachers.
Small reading groups provide an opportunity to tailor literature and instruction to the interests and needs of a particular group of children. With more focused support, children are able to connect with and analyze the structure and meaning of text in increasingly advanced ways. Through one-on-one conferences with children, teachers support individualized student reading levels both for decoding text and comprehending meaning.
At Roberts Field, writing is integrated into every aspect of the curriculum from the moment children walk into their classrooms. Writing opportunities and instruction offer a platform for personal expression, such as journaling, poetry, and personal narratives, as well as expository communication—persuasive essays, biographies, and informational brochures or articles.
In much the same structure as reading instruction, children’s writing skills are best supported and developed through writing workshop. Here we provide whole group and small group lessons and guided practice, as well as conferencing and collaboration with individual children. Each writing project is related in genre or content to the current interdisciplinary unit of study.
The math curriculum is designed to build children’s conceptual knowledge as well as their mathematical thinking and reasoning skills about the world around them. In Roberts Field classrooms, teachers and children work collaboratively to co-construct their learning and develop children’s deep understanding of the fundamental ideas of number and operations, geometry, data, measurement, and early algebra. This constructive math process is centered on the regular use of hands-on manipulatives, as well as story problems based in children’s current unit of study and meaningful contexts in their lives. Roberts Field uses the Pearson Investigations 3 Curriculum as a primary text for instruction, alongside supplemental materials and resources. All math instruction takes place in small homogenous groups for 1 hour each day.
Scientific concepts, ideas and practices are abundant throughout interdisciplinary units of study in grades K-5 at Roberts Field. The content and experiences are scaffolded to build upon the foundation of knowledge and skills from prior grades.
Our Science Education learning objectives are grounded in the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education. Each of our interdisciplinary units of study is grounded in a Physical, Life, or Earth & Space Science topic and systemically integrates three dimensions of science education across all grades:
Science and Engineering Practices: These practices support all disciplines and serve to move scientific knowledge from being simply fact-based to truly applicable.
Crosscutting Concepts: These concepts cut across all disciplines and weave a connecting thread throughout scientific phenomena in all four core areas.
Disciplinary Core Ideas: Beyond Physical, Life and Earth & Space Sciences, our curriculum explicitly integrates Engineering, Technology and Application of Sciences across all grades.
Field Photography - 4th & 5th Graders
A weekly comprehensive introduction to the history, techniques, aesthetics and production of film and digital photography.
A concentrated time to explore the current interdisciplinary unit of study. Content knowledge is presented interactive and hands-on ways to offer students an opportunity to learn about a topic in depth. Through critical thinking and problem-solving, children are encouraged to make sense of new information by connecting it to broader topics, values, previous knowledge, and their own experiences. In order to integrate and better understand new concepts, students will interact to debate and discuss, predict or hypothesize, and make and test observations.
Day in the Field
A half-day outside, inspired by the Swiss Forest School model. Our Day in the Field curricular experience is grounded in the facets of Earth, Physical, and Life sciences that are available at our fingertips in the outdoors. The day weaves together opportunities for independent exploration as well as collaborative activities, including scientific investigations, philosophical discussions, and artistic expression. The extended time outside allows children to build their knowledge and appreciation of nature, as well as their comfort, joy, and confidence in the outdoors.
The 4th and 5th grade experience takes Field to a more nuanced level where STEM, philosophy, arts instruction, and appreciation for the natural world intersect. This includes pop-up workshops in photography, and the performing and visual arts. These workshops will be offered by artists from the community in tandem with classroom teachers across the year.
A structured time of physical challenges and games, including sports, yoga, running, obstacle courses, Kung Fu, dance, and open nature adventures in the park.
Aquila Rising & Setting
Aquila Rising is a morning circle to ground each class in the day’s intentions, providing an opportunity for connection amongst classmates and teachers with breathing and mindfulness practices. At the end of the day, Setting provides a chance for the class to reflect and close with the same level of intention.
A time that is both structured and unstructured, for students to build organization practices and skills, practice handwriting and/or keyboarding, and complete homework or classwork that merits revisiting.
Whole group and small group outdoor games and experiences facilitated by teachers and students themselves. These activities are geared towards building teamwork and communication, as well as problem-solving skills, in fun and physically active ways.
Twice a week, STEM & Innovation Workshop offers time for students to meet in small groups with a teacher to explore grade-based Scientific and Engineering practices and concepts. During this period, students will build their knowledge and understanding of physical, life, earth, and space sciences as well as engineering and technological applications through exploration, experimentation, and construction of projects.
A period offering explicit arts instruction—including art history, technique and appreciation—as well as self-directed inquiry and creative expression. This artistic exploration is grounded in the current unit of study. Workshop offers children an opportunity to dive deep into an aspect of the current unit that most interests them. Students are invited to express creativity across a variety of mediums including sculpture, construction, collage, painting, drawing, writing, and composing.
Roberts Field School