Skills Groups

Calendar Math

River Class students are divided into three skills groups after two or three weeks of being in school. We divide children up according to age, social needs, learning needs, and generally what seems to be the best fit. Charlie, Dee, and Ruth typically have a group of ten students each. Charlie usually works with the beginner readers and writers and Ruth and Dee will work with a mixed group of both first- and second-year students.

Skills groups take place Monday through Thursday every week. They consist of math and language arts activities, but of course, math and language learning takes place at other times throughout the week. Our calendar time is a perfect example of that. Each child takes a turn to be Person of the Day and leads the calendar time. The class says the date both in English and Spanish and students will contribute calendar sentences such as Halloween is on October 31st. We have pattern cards, so children learn how to identify patterns in different ways using colors, shapes, and other creative ways. Children also get excited about our countdown to the 100th Day of School. We post how many days we've been in school and then children have to figure out how many are left until our 100th day.

Children choose books to read in their skills group.

Language arts comprises several different components: reading, creative writing, research writing, word study (which includes spelling and phonics), journaling, and handwriting. Children love to pick out books to read. We have a wide variety of books to choose from both in our classroom and in our library. Our leveled PM Rigby reading program guarantees a child will find a book at their level.

Students work diligently on word families and sight words.

Probably one of the most popular language activities is creative writing or Writers' Workshop. This is a time when children are able to use their imagination and write their own stories. These stories may be fiction or nonfiction. Children will excitedly work together and share about their characters and plot. Peer conferencing happens when children have finished a book and share it with a friend. A friend might share why they like the book and perhaps make some suggestions. Teacher-led lessons will help expand the children's writing skills by giving them helpful pointers such as how to add more detail to a story or how to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out words to help with generated spelling.



For handwriting, we use the Handwriting Without Tears program. This program is designed to help children with their letter formation and uses the Magic C bunny character to help students remember the direction of a group of key letters. This program addresses both left and righthanded students and provides lots of useful everyday vocabulary for the children to read and copy.

Children have Epic accounts which enable them to access a wide variety of books on the iPads. Epic gives children the choice to either read themselves or pick read alouds if they are beginner readers. We sometimes use Epic to play stories at lunchtime to entertain the children while they are enjoying their meal.

In math, the children enjoy and participate in a wide variety of activities. These include many hands-on games, tile cards, iPads, math literature, and lots of problem-solving tasks. Teachers draw on many math resources to support their teaching of math. These include Math in Practice, Marcy Cook, Creative Publications, Marilyn Burns, Wirtz, and Aims.

A ten-frame game helps children with their addition facts.

Math class is an environment where children learn to express their thinking about math concepts. Rather than calling on individual students to answer questions, children are asked to turn and talk to each other to explore and discuss math concepts together.

  • Math is more meaningful when it connects with real-life situations. (We often use children's names and their favorite things in word problems to make math even more interesting and relevant.)
  • Learning math facts through models, discussions, and investigations lead to math understanding and insights and not just memorization.
  • Integrating problems into daily lessons gives students opportunities to think together about word problems and move between the real (context) and abstract (equations).
  • Current research supports the benefits of student involvement in modeling and talking about what they are doing in math and why they are doing it.
  • Students don’t always picture math ideas the same way we do and that struggling to picture their math understanding is an important step in building understanding. 

Students work in pairs during a probability lesson.

Students use iPads during skills group to access Epic, IXL and other educational apps.


Click here to find out more: LS Math Curriculum

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