- Campus Life
The curriculum of the Curtis Blake Day School is designed to align our academic program with the Curriculum Frameworks of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, developed in response to the Education Reform Act of 1993. Our students are taught specific strategies which are incorporated into all aspects of the school day. The goal is internalization and independent application of the strategies; therefore, the students are taught and cued to use them in all areas of the curriculum and across all subjects. They learn to read by reading, to write by writing, to use language by discourse and to understand mathematical concepts through extensive use of manipulatives and problem solving approaches. Reading and writing meaningful material (rather than completing workbook sheets/dittos) takes up a major portion of the day. Language interpretation is a major emphasis, not only while teaching reading, but also across the curriculum. Metalinguistic skills are taught directly as a means to improve comprehension. Indeed, at the Curtis Blake Day School all aspects of the curriculum focus on gaining access to and communicating the message through language intervention. "Language functions as a powerful interactive tool that allows us to construct and convey meaning in our efforts to communicate" (Education Today, Mass. Dept. of Education, May 15, 1995).
Each child has a written Individualized Educational Program containing goals and objectives specific to that student. These goals and objectives are designed to meet the needs of the individual child with development of specific skills as the objective.
Skills needed for word recognition are taught using a unique synthesis of the Lindamood™ Phoneme Sequencing Program and Benchmark™ Word Identification Program. The Lindamood™ method helps students develop phonological awareness and processing of the phonological code. The Benchmark™ Program focuses attention on the rime of key words in order to facilitate orthographic processing. Although the two methodologies originate from different professional perspectives, the School has, over the past 20 years, integrated the strategies. This integration has allowed the staff to plan for each student according to his/her need.
Reading instruction is provided in a one to one setting where each student is cued to employ the presented decoding strategies. In addition, oral and written language processing is facilitated by our focus on comprehension strategies. These include: utilizing narrative and expository graphic organizers, activating background knowledge, mental imagery, vocabulary instruction, summarization, and self-monitoring. In order to foster interpersonal communication, pragmatics and conversation classes focus on discrete social skills, perspective taking and group problem solving.
Written language instruction in narrative and expository text structures is taught specifically in Language/Literature classes. Furthermore, these same semantic maps are integrated in all subject areas: reading, social studies, science and mathematics. Lessons are developed according to each child's capabilities with an emphasis on utilizing Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks social studies topics. The mathematics curriculum emphasizes the extensive use of manipulatives which allow our students to discover more easily the mathematical properties being taught. In addition, the visual and kinesthetic aspects promote increased attention and retention. The specific teaching of vocabulary also enhances each student's understanding and transference of knowledge.
The remainder of the curriculum is highly individualized in keeping with the needs of these students. The fact that written language skills may be impaired does not keep our students from learning at their intellectual level rather than their reading or writing level. Much material is presented verbally, through demonstration and with discussion. Since it is impossible to strengthen rote memory, emphasis is placed on the individual educational skills requiring rote memory with such aids as phonics cards, computer spelling programs, mnemonic devices, calculators and multiplication fact sheets.
Many of our students enter the School with attentional, memory and organizational problems. These are dealt with by the application of a variety of educational techniques such as scheduling, self-monitoring, daily charts, etc. Detailed behavioral programs are maintained even if the child is on medication. Organizational problems may be improved with assignment checklists, one on one supervision, consistent structure, instruction on class readiness, etc. In each of these approaches, parental cooperation and involvement are essential to the student's success.
To help implement these approaches, every classroom is equipped with two state of the art computers both of which have high speed connections to the internet.