As SWS is a new educational endeavor in our school system, you may have one or more of these questions! We will attempt to answer them here.
I have heard that SWS is a "smaller learning community". What does that mean?
Our community (all four grades) is housed in one building, the newly renovated section of the Albertville Community Learning Center (ACLC). There are three teachers for each grade. Once a student is enrolled in SWS, they will have the option of continuing there. This means that our school essentially consists of twelve teachers. This smaller environment will allow our twelve teachers to collaborate together, both at the grade level and the school level, to provide enriching experiences for our students.
I have heard there will be a new type of report card. How will that work?
We believe that your child is more than a grade. Traditional letter grades do very little to explain exactly what a child knows. Because of these two beliefs, our team is working to develop a different type of report card. This report card will be more detailed, showing specific standards of learning in each subject. It will show the mastery-level of each standard taught during that quarter.
Because this new report card will look so very different, our plan is to invite parents for conferences. We believe the very best way to explain what your child knows is through conversation. During these conferences, we can discuss the standards-based report card as well as share portfolio work your child has completed.
These two methods, a standards-based report card and student portfolio, will give the most complete picture of your child's growth throughout the school year.
I have heard that students may be moving within grades. How will that work?
Our goal is to provide each student with the support or challenge he needs. Within our individual classrooms, there is always differentiation. We seek to provide for individual needs through small groups, individual student conferences, and leveled stations or centers. Most students' needs are met through these strategies within our individual classrooms.
As a team of teachers with experience in grades 1-4, we will work together to provide support or challenge for students whose needs do not fit within their current grade. This may mean working in a small group in another grade or classroom within our community for a specified period of time.
I have heard there will be lots of projects. What does this mean?
Project-based Learning (PBL) is a practice of integrating learning through authentic, real-world experiences. PBLs generally begin with a driving question which leads to student collaboration in trying to answer that question. PBLs incorporate all subjects and require teamwork.
This year, we have worked on a PBL that will include our existing garden!
Each classroom teacher or grade level may also have other PBLs throughout the year.
PBLs are NOT teacher-assigned projects that students create at home.
PBLs will not be the only learning or assessment in our classrooms.
Will my child still receive specials, like PE?
Yes. This is one way that SWS is actually a "school within a school", and not a completely new establishment. Our students will continue to have access to all special area classes as well as the cafetorium at APS/AES.
First and second grade students will attend PE, Library, Counseling, Art, Chinese, Music and Drama.
Third and fourth grade students will attend PE, Library, Counseling, Chinese, Music, and Keyboarding.
What can I expect for my child at SWS?
Firstly, you can expect your child to be challenged: challenged to think, challenged to work collaboratively, challenged to create, challenged to solve problems. As our motto implies, we have high expectations of ourselves as educators as well as of every child in our school. Our methods for challenging students may look and sound different from traditional desk, paper, and pencil learning. You may see students in the floor working together or independently. You may hear chants and songs as we put our learning to rhythm and music. You may see students learning outside or working with other grade levels on projects together. You can expect that all of your child's learning will not take place within the walls of a classroom. We believe that students learn best when they have authentic experiences. So we plan on providing those as much as possible. We have planted a garden where students will have the opportunity to experience, first-hand, the life cycles of plants.