For more than 40 years, the Ray School has provided students of Hanover, and Etna, New Hampshire with an in-depth learning perspective not seen at any other school in our local area, state, or region. With more than five outdoor classroom study centers, along with a Colonial Village – including a blacksmith shop, colonial style house, and gardens – the students at the Ray School are exposed to a wealth of learning opportunities for a comprehensive experience.
Our school’s core curriculum centers on personalized experiences for every learner. Rather than adopting and mandating specific curriculum programs or adopted models, our educators are provided professional opportunities to craft learning experiences and outcomes aligned to state and national standards that directly link to interdisciplinary studies. Our students experience and are assessed in 21st century learning skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, oral and visual presentation, and collaboration skills. Students are self-assessors of their learning and work collaboratively with their teacher to make meaning of their learning.
Students at the Ray School are instructed in the four core content areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. Students are also instructed in the specialty areas of art, general music instruction, grade-level chorus, physical education, and Spanish language. With an integrated and interdisciplinary curriculum, our students are afforded opportunities to learn through their own learning styles. Our talented teaching staff is skilled in differentiating instruction and assessment and providing students various ways in which to demonstrate their mastery of curriculum and skills.
The English language arts curriculum supports students in areas of reading, writing, and language standards. The Ray School challenges students to master content and skills in all genres of writing, spelling, language standards, and reading. The Ray School promotes vertical articulation of each language arts content strand, including vertical writing expectations in grades 1 through 5. Students in each grade level write letters to the principal based on various studies during the course of the school year. Including, but not limited to, how the life cycle of the butterfly has improved our school climate, how King George III created tyranny in the colonies, why Native Americans deserve recognition in our local area, and how best to reduce our school’s carbon footprint.
The reading curriculum at the Ray School provides students with opportunities to enhance their individual level of reading, while engaging in fundamental reading instruction. Students are universally screened in reading skills for pre-and post-assessment. Teachers use formative measurements to improve individual reading skills. At each grade-level, teachers differentiate reading curriculum to provide supplemental materials to match the reading skills for each reader.
In mathematics, our school developed the Big Ideas of Mathematics to provide students opportunities to master the five strands of mathematical proficiency: conceptual fluency, procedural fluency, strategic competence, adaptive reasoning, and productive disposition. Our teachers have many instructional resources for mathematics instruction and use the Investigations math model as a primary curriculum resource.
In recent months, we have begun to review and refine each strand of mathematics to ensure horizontal and vertical alignment. Most recently, our teaching professionals have begun to align our Big Ideas of Mathematics with the Common Core State Standards. The focus of our work centers on ensuring a connection to each Standard of Mathematical Practice.
Our science and social studies curriculum is integrated to provide thematic and project and problem-based learning. Each grade level studies a habitat, through their outdoor classroom, for the purpose of exploring inquiry-based learning, research practices, and ways to present information and data through multiple mediums. Each grade level then shares their knowledge and presents information with peers and families in a museum format.
Our fitness-based physical education program is noted for its unique ability to scaffold 21st century learning skills into health and fitness activities. Students participate in collaboration skills, problem-solving activities and life-long fitness instruction. Our physical education professionals work closely with our educational assistants for the purpose of teaching developmentally appropriate learning activities during non-instructional time. This has greatly improved our behavioral referrals during transitional and recess times.
Our specialists in the area of art education, music, and Spanish language instruction involve the highest quality of learning experiences. Our students engage in leadership training programs through docent opportunities, as well as audition-level choral and instrumental experiences.
Aside from content-specific curriculum, the Ray School provides students with a comprehensive affective education curriculum. Through the expertise of our school counselors, the Ray School has developed a social thinking model focused on educating students on social aggression, bullying, and our universally developed 3 R’s: Respect, Rights, and Responsibility.
Differentiated curriculum, instruction, and assessment are best represented in project-based learning with a focus on formative development and personalized learning. The Ray School is a model school for differentiated learning and in a resourceful environment where every child succeeds in their style of learning. Through our Response to Intervention model, our students are identified early and provided with differentiated learning strategies to assist with their learning challenges. Classroom teachers model intervention strategies to promote growth for all learners. As a school, we build collegial planning time into our professional meeting time to share instructional practices, student work, and assessment strategies. This has significantly improved our school’s effectiveness in reaching every student.
An example of differentiated instruction is our Challenge by Choice model. Students are afforded opportunities to challenge themselves with various levels of critical thinking and supplemental work aside from the traditional content. This model provides an opportunity for any student at any level of learning.
Another example of differentiated instruction is our homework puzzle. Students are given the choice of up to nine different homework assignments for any given week. Because they can choose which assignments to complete, students are more readily engaged in completing homework; the practice directly correlates to in-class.