Every school day begins with a morning meeting, where students and teachers sit in a circle on the rug and greet each other, discuss an activity that was posted on the board that morning, share news and student work, and sometimes do a group activity. By participating in these activities, children reinforce academic skills as well as practice social skills such as listening, speaking, problem solving, and giving and receiving feedback.
Through sharing information and asking questions about each other’s lives, they build community. The morning meeting helps each child to feel valued and sets a positive climate for the day. After the winter break, our Pre-K students read with an older buddy once a week prior to the morning meeting. They then join the meeting, sit in the circle with their reading buddies, and participate in our greeting. As the year progresses, many of our Pre-K students will confidently share their work or news with the entire community at the morning meeting.
Weekly town meetings help us develop problem solving and cooperation skills. Children learn to exchange views, and discover how to work both individually and as a group to solve the problems of their school community. Students and teachers are invited to list any problems they are experiencing, and these items are brought up for discussion with the group. The tone of the meeting is honest and non-judgmental, and the students follow a set of rules and procedures (for example, try to solve problems, no “put downs,” listen and make eye contact, use your “I voice,” and do not use people’s names).
The purpose of assessment is to provide a tool for teachers to determine what skills each child has mastered and to develop appropriate instruction for each child. When we do assessments, we measure each child’s growth within the learning process.
Assessment is ongoing; students are continuously evaluated on their work. Teachers use many methods to gain insight into the skills, abilities, and knowledge of each child. They assess students by observing them in the classroom and evaluating their day-to-day classwork and homework assignments. They keep records and samples of each student’s work to evaluate how he/she changes and grows over the year. And, finally, our teachers assess each student through testing. In some areas, particularly in math, we do give traditional pencil and paper tests. In most areas, we make use of authentic assessment activities.
While traditional tests provide feedback on whether a child can recall what was learned out of context, authentic assessments ask students to demonstrate skills and concepts they have learned and to apply them to real world tasks. These tasks require students to practice higher-order thinking skills; they need to analyze, synthesize and apply what they have learned.
We provide parents with three written reports of their child’s progress throughout the year.
Saratoga Independent School does not administer the New York State tests to its students. However, Saratoga Independent School will refer those parents who express such a need to contact their home district for information.
Parents are welcome to discuss their child’s progress with the teachers or the Head of School at any time during the school year.