Attic Mathematics is individualized and takes a developmental approach. We believe it is essential that students develop mathematical understanding through the use of concrete objects before they use (or memorize) symbolic representations, algorithms, or tricks. Students move through our curriculum depending on readiness. The premise of our math program is that children cannot become logical thinkers unless they form the necessary brain structures themselves using manipulatives while doing what makes sense to them. Children develop understanding of number (moving to addition/subtraction and its concurrent symbolism), become proficient at sorting collections using a number of attributes, work with patterns, develop spatial awareness, and do beginning work with fractions, as they develop their logical thinking.
The emergent and beginner readers have designated reading time at The Attic. During this time, they do shared reading selected poetry; they have "white-board group" time where they learn letter sounds and how to form them, moving to learning letter blends and writing whole words. The bulk of their time, however, is spent in free reading. During this time, they may choose books out of leveled bins. The child is not restricted only to the bin of their level. He/she may choose easier or harder books as well, read aloud to a buddy, or to a younger child, choose a book out of The Attic library, or read a book from home.
The older readers (about age 8 - 12) have a designated reading time each day and it is expected that the child be reading at home. One day per week, there is a literature circle time for about half an hour, when the children meet in small groups, exploring different components in literature (such as setting, plot development, etc) and how it applies to the book that they are reading together.
Science at The Attic is studied through a workshop approach for children through elementary grades and is based on the work of Darrell Phillips as referenced in *Sciencing: Toward Logical Thinking. The scientist is nurtured within each child by focusing on the study of science content through the process of inquiry. During our Science Workshop students work as a community of scientists, studying a variety of life, earth, and physical science concepts. Like our other workshop approaches, Sciencing begins with a teacher directed mini-lesson where a science concept might be introduced or demonstrated. After the mini-lesson, children are given time and materials to investigate their own questions. Investigations may be explored over extended periods of time. Students use a journal to manage their own data and ideas and publish their work for peer review. Through small and large group sharing, students are held accountable for their science explorations and communicate to authentic audiences.
*Phillips, Darrell G. Sciencing: Toward Logical Thinking
A workshop approach is used in writing for children through elementary grades, based on Lucy Calkins' book The Art of Teaching Writing*. Writing starts with a mini-lesson, where a concept is introduced or expanded on. The children then find a comfortable spot to work -and start writing. Often there is a specific goal the children are working towards; for example, the older writing groups work towards completing different genres of writing such as reports, persuasive pieces and narratives. The younger writing groups generally work on free writing, where each child is writing (often incorporated with drawing) about something of personal interest.
Writing time in a workshop approach is not necessarily a time where children are working individually and quietly. Usually, there is conferring going on with a teacher or other children, where the child gets support in choosing a topic, getting feedback on her/his story, etc. At the end of writing time, a few writers share their work with the whole group, to get feedback. In writing workshop, the children are usually working towards an authentic goal; publishing or a presentation.