How Students Learn at Silverwood
- The curriculum provides for hands-on, experiential and integrated learning that connects their world to new concepts and builds on their prior learning.
- Students learn from teacher and peer modeling.
- Learning is fun, purposeful, and authentic.
- Students’ needs are met, including feeling physically and emotionally safe, socially included, respected, valued and heard.
- Teachers and students build strong connections and rapport.
- Students have opportunities to share their own world, feel able and confident, and understand why they are learning new knowledge and skills.
When practical, we integrate subjects and related activities. So, for example, students studying ancient China may be learning paper cutting in art, mapping the land features of Asia in geography, and reading Chinese folk tales or learning some Chinese characters in literacy.
We believe in sensorial learning, learning by doing. In science, students may plant beans for experiments in our greenhouses, or collect water samples from our pond to view under microscopes. Studying Native American cultures and history, students may visit museums, make traditional artifacts and play childrens' games, and participate in a “Storypath” where they take on the roles of individuals within a Native American community. Students may learn to identify conifers and deciduous trees and then count and categorize the trees on our 18-acre property. This follows Maria Montessori’s philosophy: “Never give more to the eyes and ears than you give to the hands.”
We also believe in giving students opportunities to teach and mentor each other. In math, students might work on solving a story problem together, meet for a reading group discussion, or older students may visit other classrooms to read to or with younger peers. During Wax Museum, Writers Workshop, and Science Fairs, students present their work and teach others. We seek opportunities for students to work in mixed age groups.
We believe in teachers learning with students. Our teachers are lifelong learners who explore and learn alongside students, and who model their love of learning for students. For example, during Writers Workshop, teachers may write and share their own ideas and drafts.
We believe in providing students with opportunities for discovery followed by practice. For example, first graders discover how to measure, and then may spend time outdoors measuring the circumference of trees, or each others’ height, or the length of their shoes.
We believe teachers’ roles include serving as guides and facilitators. Along with the direct instruction our teachers do, they serve as “guides on the sides,” facilitating students’ independent and small group learning and exploration, following the interests of the student(s) when appropriate and possible.
We believe in exploring ways to help students find intrinsic motivation rather than encouraging them to learn only to earn external rewards. Students don’t view what they do at school as work – because learning is fun!