Philosophy

Charles River School offers a dynamic and challenging academic, arts and athletic program. In the context of thematic study, we engage students with in-depth, interrelated experiences that nourish their enthusiasm for learning. Stimulated by an active, experiential curriculum, CRS students become critical thinkers and articulate communicators who explore concepts, take risks and discover connections together.

At CRS, we value children as individuals who develop at their own pace and learn in their own way. With this in mind, teachers design curricula that allow each child, from the youngest to the oldest, to grow with a sense of achievement and self-confidence. Children have the opportunity to learn and to express their understanding, creativity and imagination through a wide variety of channels.

Community is fundamental to CRS and we approach education as a shared endeavor among parents, students and teachers. Together, we create an effective learning environment for each child by setting and supporting meaningful goals.

An excellent education must instill in children an understanding and appreciation of our diverse world. CRS is committed to providing an environment and an education that encourages children to respect all people, consider historical and contemporary issues from many perspectives, and become informed, active members of society.

Methodology

List of 3 items.

  • What is Thematic Teaching?

    Thematic education is an interdisciplinary adventure for children. Students participate in a rich core of interrelated learning experiences within a given topic area or theme, such as “The Explorations of Marco Polo” or “The Changing Face of America.” Teachers design a thematic program by interweaving children’s learning experiences into a conceptual whole. Activities are related and build upon one another, integrating Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Mathematics, and the Arts. The theme serves as the vehicle through which new ideas are synthesized with previous knowledge and thus learning is consolidated.

    In a thematic classroom, children eagerly immerse themselves in their studies. With opportunities to explore a wealth of materials and resources, as well as to collaborate with their peers, they are actively involved in their learning. They experience simulations of historical events, they explore primary sources and authentic artifacts, they reflect, hypothesize, question and discuss, and document their learning through writing and art. Frequently children interact in small groups. Working in a supportive context, students benefit from the exchange of ideas and involvement in the decision-making process. Moreover, each child gains respect and appreciation for his or her contribution to the group.

    Based on the premise that children’s learning is enhanced when they make connections between their curricular experiences, thematic education enables children to cross the boundaries from one skill area to another. Within a given activity, students are taught several skills simultaneously. They are encouraged to search for patterns and make connections between events and ideas. As a result, children acquire a process orientation toward learning and become inquisitive learners who seek out relationships and take academic risks. Research on brain growth reveals that the process of perceiving relationships not only develops thinking skills, it also stimulates neural connections. A thematic classroom invites learners with different styles to learn from one another and challenges them to extract and apply patterns in their own learning.
  • What Does a Thematic Classroom Look Like?

    • Students are active – working, thinking, creating, problem-solving – often in pairs or groups
    • It is highly interactive among students and between students and teachers
    • Students are developing their knowledge through their learning experiences rather than being “given” knowledge from teachers
    • Using a constructivist approach, teachers ask for students’ thoughts and questions; there is time and openness to build on students’ ideas and interests
    • It is easy for students to explain what they are studying and why they are studying it
    • Students are readily immersed in thematic content; the topic has breadth and depth
    • Overarching theme for the class and specific thematic content is clearly visible to anyone entering the classroom
    • Skills are taught in context, applied to meaningful experiences and projects
    • Students are encouraged to make connections, take risks and expect to make mistakes
    • A global perspective and authentic multicultural experiences is evident throughout the classroom
    • Each grade’s theme follows our school-wide overarching theme of Know Ourselves, Understand Others, Create the Future
  • What is Constructivism?

    Constructivist teachers…
    • encourage and accept student autonomy and initiative
    • use raw data and primary sources, along with manipulative, interactive and physical materials
    • use cognitive terminology such as “classify,” “analyze,” “predict,” and “create” when framing tasks
    • allow student responses to drive lessons, shift instructional strategies, and alter content
    • inquire about students’ understandings of concepts before sharing their own understandings of those concepts
    • encourage students to engage in dialogue, both with the teacher and with one another
    • encourage student inquiry by asking thoughtful, open-ended questions and encouraging students to ask questions of each other
    • seek elaboration of students’ initial responses
    • engage students in experiences that might engender contradictions to their initial hypotheses and then encourage discussion
    • allow wait time after posing questions
    • provide time for students to construct relationships and create metaphors
    • nurture students’ natural curiosity through frequent use of the learning cycle model
    (from The Case for Constructivist Classrooms)