🔬📖 A Message from Karen Leavitt, Head of Lower School | January 17, 2024
Karen Leavitt, Head of Early Childhood
Dear Lower School Families,
Happy New Year! Welcome back to the second half of our school year. 2024 brings the promise of excitement as we prepare for an innovative few months ahead. Highlights include a pilot program for a knowledge-building literacy curriculum, our second session of enrichment clusters, and an uninterrupted stretch of Hebrew learning.
After many years of using Lucy Calkins reading and writing Units of Study as our primary literacy resource, we are excited to shift to a knowledge-building curriculum. While we have been infusing the latest research on the Science of Reading into our literacy instruction, we are hoping to integrate more formally with a curriculum designed to increase students’ knowledge of interesting topics, using sophisticated vocabulary and content to keep students engaged. Practicing literacy skills within the constructs of high-interest, theme-based content will keep us forward-thinking and current with best practices. Research is showing that cutting-edge knowledge-building curricula are creating strong foundations for increased reading comprehension as students move through their literacy journey. 
We plan to continue our successful Wilson Fundations phonics program as a critical piece of the emergent literacy puzzle. We are committed to sharing information with you during this semester about the effectiveness of our pilot program and any curricular decisions moving forward. If you are interested in the topic of evolving literacy instruction, the Knowledge Matters Podcast is a must-listen!
We are currently in the planning stages for our second session of Lower School Enrichment Clusters. Creative juices are flowing to capture rich opportunities for our students in many different content areas. We will officially begin just after February break, so stay tuned for details!
It is a gift to have the upcoming uninterrupted school weeks to hone some Hebrew language skills. Please ask your child at home to share the Hebrew vocabulary they are working on in class. As a guide, first graders are learning about משפחה Mishpachah (family) and starting to study the letter ח chet. Brainstorming words that begin with or include the letter chet will reinforce school work. Second graders are learning about clothing, and in particular, gear they wear during the winter months. They are building this learning display at school as they go and would love to share their new vocabulary at home. 
Third graders are learning about סדר היום Seder HaYom (the order of the day, or the day’s schedule). Students are growing more familiar with conversing about times of day (morning, night) and routine words (brushing teeth, going to school). Lastly, fourth graders are practicing using Hebrew vocabulary to describe their own set of positive attributes. They are identifying individual areas of strength (I am good at art) and using familiar Hebrew vocabulary to form increasingly complex sentences. All of our teachers participated in the first of a series of professional learning opportunities conducted by Hebrew at the Center to strengthen their understanding of the proficiency approach to teaching Hebrew. We will be eager to share more concrete steps we are taking in the upcoming months to continue to strengthen students' Hebrew.   
In addition to these upcoming curricular highlights, we are looking forward to setting new academic and social emotional goals with our students as they settle in from break, and continue to have eyes on growth and opportunity during the rest of our 23-24 school year.
Karen Leavitt, Head of Lower School

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