The Lower School has an excellent integrated curriculum allowing students to explore concepts from multiple perspectives and through authentic inquiry. We guide children to know themselves, enjoy learning, make wise choices, understand their gifts and their responsibility in our world as a child of the Sacred Heart.
Grade One at Stone Ridge is an adventure and a reward for each and every child. The first grade student is eager to try her wings as a competent member of a vibrant school community as she simultaneously is becoming increasingly conscious of the world around her.
Our Grade One teachers are keenly aware of the near limitless potential of their students, and the program is carefully designed to develop the uniqueness of each child. The girls continue to expand their mastery of the language and communication skills that were introduced in Kindergarten. Listening and speaking are encouraged, and, for the first time, written expression, handwriting, spelling and beginning grammar are emphasized. Fluency and early comprehension skills are taught using an anthology of contemporary, authentic literature. Leveled reading of both fiction and non-fiction texts provides opportunities for small group, guided instruction. Throughout Lower School, writing instruction assumes a variety of forms. Children learn to communicate with clarity and passion utilizing a systematic approach to the teaching of writing, which includes: pre-writing, planning, conferencing, editing and revising.
The Mathematics curriculum is as challenging as it is developmentally appropriate. As active participants in their own learning, girls are encouraged to construct their own conceptual foundations across four domains – numerical and proportional reasoning, geometry and measurement, data and probability and algebraic reasoning. Our students are taught to think clearly, to explore and to explain mathematical constructs. Individual and cooperative opportunities for problem-solving are at the core of our math program as it is here that students make the important connection between conceptual and procedural knowledge. Most important, our students know that mathematics is not simply another subject alongside the rest, but an important skill for life.
Grade Two students are as vigorously imaginative as they are uncertain. For our part, we marvel at the depth of thought, we understand the changing social dynamics, and we celebrate gifts that have yet to be discovered.
Grade Two students continue in earnest with their study of reading, writing, listening, and speaking with a focus on both accuracy and clarity. Handwriting, grammar, fluency, and developing comprehension skills are emphasized. Reading and written expression are integrated into a comprehensive, anthology-based program of instruction. Leveled reading of both fiction and non-fiction texts provides opportunities for small group, guided instruction. Throughout Lower School, writing instruction assumes a variety of forms. Children learn to communicate with clarity and passion, utilizing a systematic approach to the teaching of writing, which includes: pre-writing, planning, conferencing, editing and revising. In Grade Two, girls are taught to read, write, and communicate independently and with purpose.
The Mathematics program provides increasing levels of challenge and is purposefully differentiated to address developmentally appropriate levels of fluency. At every level, girls are encouraged to construct their own conceptual foundations across four domains – numerical and proportional reasoning, geometry and measurement, data and probability and algebraic reasoning. We invite them to be competent, clear thinkers, to explore and to explain mathematical constructs. Individual and cooperative opportunities for problem-solving are at the core of our math program as it is here that students make the important connection between conceptual and procedural knowledge. As mathematicians, they grow in their understanding of basic operations including multiplication and division. The work begun in Grade One with fractions, estimation, graphing and time study is expanded. Documentation of strategies and solutions is encouraged.
The Social Studies curriculum is an exploration of communities and United States geography, including the study of our government in action. Students are engaged in detailed discussions about diversity in many forms and come to understand that tolerance and acceptance of differences among peoples enriches our lives and adds to the rich tapestry that makes our nation.
The Science program is inquiry-based, and students explore and wonder about the world around them. The curriculum includes units of study on energy, the geology of Earth and the life cycle. The essential skills of observation, data recording and analysis, prediction and drawing conclusions are embedded throughout our teacher-designed, standards-based program.
Grade Three students at Stone Ridge are well-equipped to participate fully in their world, and they routinely seek out opportunities to meet it head on! Expansive and quick to engage in every aspect of the learning process, our girls challenge themselves to try new things, see risks as worthy challenges, and make new friends. Our teachers actively coach for success. In Grade Three, individual universes are expanding exponentially, and, as they do, we are able to glimpse this child of the Sacred Heart at her most adventurous.
In Grade Three students are taught to read and comprehend increasingly difficult texts from multiple genres. It is here that the shift from learning to read to reading to learn begins to occur and we emphasize the importance of being able to make inferences, draw accurate conclusions supported by evidence, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and to read for critical information. It is here that writing instruction is focused on clarity of expression across a variety of formats. It is here that a systematic use of process writing, together with the components of 6+1 Traits® program, enables our adventurous writers to refine their written communication skills. Listening and oral speaking skills are also developing in the context of a comprehensive, standards-based program. We expect our children to express themselves effectively and to be able to communicate clearly, openly, and with passion.
Mathematics at this level challenges each and every learner to achieve at high levels. Students are routinely stretched to create their own knowledge in an advanced program, which includes opportunities for differentiated support and enrichment. Individual levels of understanding are constructed across four domains – numerical and proportional reasoning; geometry and measurement; algebraic reasoning; and data and probability. Problem-solving becomes more complex as students learn to collect and analyze data, generate personal questions and strategize to solve multi-step problems. As beginning students of algebra, children learn to be both logical and intuitive thinkers and make important connections between conceptual and procedural knowledge. Our girls know that math is not simply a subject taught in school, but one which is applicable to their lives, and we strive to help each understand those important, real-world applications.
The Social Studies program is designed to promote and encourage intellectual curiosity, critical thinking and sound judgment. Units of study are centered on cultural and political geography. Students explore commonalities and differences among peoples and places from the perspective of the American experience. These integrated topics, while valued for their content, are pursued as opportunities for advanced practice in map and research skills.
The Science program is an inquiry-driven exploration of three integrated units of study: matter, nutrition and the solar system. Essential skills of observation, data analysis, predication and drawing conclusions are an integral part of each unit and facilitate a deepening understanding of the scientific method. In a discipline-based, spiraled curriculum, girls throughout Lower School work to derive rational answers to important questions and, as a result, become scientist-citizens who think critically about their place in an ever-changing world.
Grade Four students are both leaders and role models in the Lower School. They are much admired by their younger schoolmates and are, by all accounts, Stone Ridge girls. Often quiet and thoughtful, they are independent, enthusiastic seekers of relationships and want to have their maturity and individuality respected. At Stone Ridge, we embrace this important period of personal growth and celebrate the success of these individualistic, determined learners as they ready themselves for the challenges of Middle School.
The integrated Language Arts program combines the critical reading of advanced fiction and non-fiction texts with opportunities to apply increasingly sophisticated written communication skills. The transition from learning to read and write to reading and writing to learn is complete. Girls develop strong and consistent comprehension skills and are expected to read for critical information, make inferences, analyze, evaluate and thoughtfully summarize what they have read. We emphasize the value of communicating clearly, with passion and with purpose in both oral and written form. Our program is standards-driven and process-focused. Our expectations for readers and thinkers are high, and yet our girls still surprise us with their exceptional personal best.
The Mathematics program is designed to integrate concrete, symbolic and abstract concepts at all levels of challenge. Consistent with the standards developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, units of study span four domains – numerical and proportional reasoning; geometry and measurement; algebraic thinking and data analysis. Girls work to solve complex word problems, with probability and statistics studied in depth. Students continue their exploration of Algebra and become competent, intuitive thinkers able to make significant connections between the conceptual and the procedural. Mathematics is not simply another subject in the Grade Four curriculum, but rather, a discipline with real-world applications and an important life skill.
The Social Studies program includes a series of sequential units that have been carefully crafted to engage our students as curious, critical students of history. The foundation of our nation, with particular emphasis on the history of Maryland, is an area of focus. Advanced opportunities for project-based research and authentic field experiences are imbedded in the program.
Science is an inquiry-based study of three distinct units of study: the human body, simple machines and measurement. Essential skills of observation, data analysis, prediction and drawing conclusions are an integral part of each unit and facilitate a deepening understanding of the scientific method. In a standards-based, spiraled curriculum, girls throughout Lower School work to derive rational answers to important questions and, as a result, grow to become scientist-citizens in every sense of the word!
The Lower School at Stone Ridge encourages students to achieve their personal best. We strive to create a flexible and nurturing environment in which students are recognized for their unique abilities and are able to grow both academically and emotionally. Our unique Learning Strategist Program is designed to supplement and extend the rich classroom-based curriculum. Three full time learning strategists coach and support teachers to differentiate at the classroom level and provide personalized, instructional support to students.
Lower School Learning Strategists:
- Work as instructional coaches in collaboration with grade level teachers to plan, provide resources, and deliver differentiated lessons and units, particularly in language arts and math.
- Serve as liaisons between students, parents, and teachers for those students who have diagnosed learning differences.
- Create Student Success Plans and support, facilitate, and coach classroom teachers on the implementation of classroom adjustments for individuals with documented needs.
- Monitor and deliver tiered academic interventions.
- Provide individual and small group instruction that supports and extends the core curriculum.
- Assist parents in obtaining diagnostic educational evaluations as needed.
Learning Strategist Team:
Learning Strategist, Early Childhood (Preschool through Kindergarten)
Beth Montanaro, PhD
Learning Strategist, Primary (Grades 1 and 2)
Learning Strategist, Intermediate (Grades 3 and 4)
The mathematics program in the Lower School is carefully designed to integrate a deep understanding of the conceptual underpinnings of mathematics with the acquisition of basic facts and algorithms. Math is exciting and fun, but it is also very personal. Children learn best when they build upon what they already know and as “mathematicians at work,” analyze and engage a wide variety of strategies, explain in their thinking at “math congresses” and demonstrate a deep understanding of mathematical constructs. Coordinated by a Lower School Science specialist, our inquiry-based program is grounded in the Next Generation Science Standards and, at each grade level, engages learners in physical, life and earth science units of study. View more about science on Dr. Winter's blog page.
Language Arts (including French)
For young women to lead and serve, they must be able to communicate clearly and well. Instruction in both manuscript and cursive handwriting is an important part of our program. Written expression is taught via an integrated approach that combines the elements of Writer’s Workshop with the vocabulary of 6 + 1 Traits. Children learn to communicate effectively and express themselves with conviction. Oral communication skills are practiced at school-wide meetings and assemblies and as a part of regular class assignments. All Lower School children take French – the language of the Sacred Heart. As they learn the language, our children develop the skills necessary to become linguistically and culturally equipped for life in a global and diverse society.
Our children are music makers, performers, sculptors and painters. They sing with gusto, they create with abandon, and they learn about expressive arts. Equally important, they explore the expressive arts to know themselves as learners. They are exposed to a wide variety of media, encouraged to take risks and seek solutions and discover the artist within. Through the study of the Elements of Art students learn to visually communicate their ideas, thoughts, and feelings and to interpret other works of art. As they explore the Principles of Design, students become more sophisticated artists, applying and demonstrating their understanding of the language of art. As artists and musicians, students at all levels engage their own gifts and come to appreciate the gifts of others.
Physical Education and Recreation
At Stone Ridge we value the physical well-being and personal development of our young learners. The Physical Education program is designed to develop healthy attitudes. and habits and build confidence in a non-threatening atmosphere. Girls participate in activities that help them understand, communicate, value, and experience the satisfaction and joy that result from regular participation in physical activity. These activities also allow children the opportunity to work together for the purpose of improving their social and cooperative skills and to set goals, take pride in reaching those goals, and challenge themselves at every turn. Our physical education classes meet regularly at all levels to provide students with opportunities to practice sportsmanship as a Sacred Heart citizen. In these classes, the children learn how to properly use athletic equipment and test their physical abilities as they develop basic skills and physical prowess. We see recreation as an important part of our educational program—to exercise their physical spirit and to ready themselves to engage in purposeful work.
Our library program aims to inspire our children’s enthusiasm for literature across genre, to stimulate and sustain an active interest in reading, and to ensure that our children acquire important life skills for engaging in personal research using information technologies. All children have the opportunity to visit the well-equipped Lower School library on a regular basis to select challenging reading materials or conduct their own research.