Quick Facts on MAS’ Elementary Program
- MAS elementary school classrooms have approximately 30 students per class with two full time, licensed teachers!
- Our school day for elementary students is the same as the school day for middle and high school students. We recognize that this is a long day; however, we also know that our students need to make tremendous gains in reading and math, among other subjects, in order to be college-ready. We extend the school day because significantly more time in school means significantly more learning!
- MAS elementary students do not take naps. We recognize our school day is significantly longer than most elementary schools, but within a short period of time, students adjust beautifully to the long, but structured and engaging school day.
- MAS elementary students are provided two snacks per day, a mid-morning snack and an afternoon snack. Both snacks are provided by MAS and are free of charge. We recognize the importance of ensuring good nutrition for our students to keep them energized and focused.
- MAS does not have “traditional” recess for our elementary students. However, we provide a structured playtime every day and elementary students are also scheduled for PE every other day to provide an appropriate outlet to release energy and teach and encourage socialization skills.
- MAS offers a before and after-school program for our elementary students and this program is housed in our multi-purpose facility and is available to families free of charge!
- MAS provides limited public school transportation to students. A bus schedule with bus stop locations and times is available in the main office as well as on our website. All grade levels ride the bus together, but elementary students are separated from middle and high school students on the buses.
- Every minute counts! The culture of MAS is one where value is placed on making every minute of instruction matter. We teach students structured procedures for everything from entering the building in the morning to leaving the building at the end of the day, and everything in between! In order to ensure that every minute counts, we explicitly teach students routines and procedures to maximize our instructional time with students. While we value structure, we also value nurturing our students and ensuring that they find learning at MAS so much fun that they would come to school every day even if they were not required to!
Elementary Courses with General Course Descriptions
In the elementary school, the reading and writing courses utilize the Reader’s and Writer’s workshop model, which is a research-based literacy model. The model includes a balance of daily reading and writing instruction where there is a focus on reading a variety of materials from different genres, and explicit instruction is provided in writing, namely, teaching students how to write. The model is implemented on a daily basis by providing one 90 minute blocked period for reading, and one 90 minute blocked period for writing, which total 180 minutes of daily instruction in reading and writing. This is approximately two to three times more instruction for reading and writing as compared to what is traditionally provided in public elementary schools. Additionally, MAS’ elementary social studies classrooms also serve as an additional opportunity to provide literacy instruction. Social studies classes meet daily for 90 minutes so in totality, there are 240 minutes of daily instruction in reading and writing at MAS when you include social studies instruction!
The reading classrooms utilize a rotation model to support differentiation of instruction and to provide multiple modalities of learning for students. At the start of the literacy block, students report to one of two reading stations: the the phonics teaching station or the comprehension teaching station in grades K-2, and two separate comprehension stations in grade 3. They remain at each station for 45 minutes and rotate to the next station once directed by the teacher. There are approximately fifteen students at each station. In grades K-2 at the phonics teaching station, students receive direct, small group, standards-based instruction with approximately fifteen other students. At the comprehension teaching station, students engage deeply in both fiction and non-fiction text to develop both a love of reading and an understanding of how to read for meaning at a young age. Our approach to teaching literacy stems from our belief that if a student loves reading and reads exceptionally well, they can teach themselves anything!
There are two teachers in all elementary classrooms for the entire school day. Both teachers provide direct instruction to students in small, strategically planned groups to individualize student learning and maximize achievement results.
MAS’ writing instruction is provided by both teachers using a workshop model where even our youngest writers develop both a love for writing and stamina to write. Writing classrooms focus on explicit instruction in writing and this includes grammar lessons, spelling lessons, and high frequency word development.
At MAS, our mathematics curriculum was developed utilizing the Five Steps to a Balanced Math Program. The five steps included in the program design are modeled after the recommendations of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and implementation of the program supports MAS teachers in building mathematically powerful students. The five steps program emphasizes supporting students to not only solve mathematical problems, but to effectively communicate their understanding to others. The curriculum is designed so that teachers provide “balanced” instruction to support students in learning more than “procedural” or computational mathematics. The curriculum is deliberately created to support students in gaining a deep understanding of math so that they can apply their math skills and reasoning abilities to solve real-life problems requiring mathematical solutions. Our math program is centered on activity-based investigations, which encourage our students to think creatively and develop their own approaches to problem-solving and work cooperatively.
MAS’ science curriculum was developed utilizing an inquiry-based, experiential approach to learning. Our curriculum incorporates an investigative approach or inquiry-based learning, which allows students to constantly pose questions and seek answers. Through this investigative, inquiry-based process, students apply scientific skills and process to everyday experiences. The teacher is the facilitator of student learning and guides students to make detailed observations, formulate predictions-based on their observation, develop habits of the mind including curiosity and critical thinking, test for verification, keep data, make generalizations, evaluate findings, and ask questions to provide solutions. Students build meaning out of their investigations by applying the scientific method. The science curriculum includes consistent opportunities to experience laboratory work and extensive and purposeful inclusion of project-based learning opportunities using real life scenarios to support student mastery of the standards for the course. Our method of science instruction not only ignites a passion for science early in life, but it also provides students with the critical thinking skills necessary to attack any problem.
We believe the arts are an integral part of educating the whole child and a critical part of the school day. Elementary students are exposed to various fine arts including, but not limited to, art, music, and dance.
At MAS, we introduce a variety of sports and other physical activities to provide students with the necessary skills needed to learn about, and improve their fitness and health, while having fun through activities that allow the utilization of fine and gross motor skills. The physical education curriculum allows the opportunity to teach active participation in group games, develop the habits to maintain physical well-being, focus on conflict resolution and team building skills, and provide opportunities to challenge students both mentally and physically. Elementary students have physical education every other day to keep them healthy, fit, and to provide them an appropriate outlet to release their energy!