NCCL is comprised of four multi-age homeroom groups. Group 1 is comparable to Kindergarten through 2nd grades; Group 2 to 2nd through 4th grades; Group 3 to 5th and 6th grades; Group 4 to 7th and 8th grades.
Each group has a 2-3 year age span. There is overlap age-wise and academically between the groups so children can be placed appropriately academically, socially and emotionally.
Each homeroom group has about 22-24 children and 2 full-time teachers who work with them. The homeroom group is divided into smaller groups for classes so there are usually 10-12 children in a class group.
Some activities, such as science, social studies, etc., have all of the children and both teachers working together. This arrangement enables us to have small academic classes but still gives the children a large enough social group to foster social development.
Examples of Monthly Homeroom Curricula
Group 1, Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd Grades
Group 1 Announcements:
- Field trip to M’s family’s home on the Sassafras River for kayaking and sailing activity: Thursday, May 24. We can take up to two parent chaperones that are experienced kayakers and are comfortable kayaking with a child.
- Movement class at U of D – Monday, May 14. Have your child dress for a gym class.
News from the week of April 23-27 (aside from reading and math activities):
- MONDAY: We went to the Maryland Science Center. It was very interesting and fun for all. We got to see the “Grossology” exhibit, which tied in with our study of the human body.
- TUESDAY: Today in Art and Spanish we went to Phillips Park to make a sculpture with nature (natural objects) like the artist Andy Goldsworthy. Our sculpture had lots of dandelions in it and we named it “El Jardin Amarillo” (The Yellow Garden). We worked on our writing today. Most of the class is starting a new story. We have been reading Peter Rabbit and using it as a model for writing our own tales.
- WEDNESDAY: This morning we took a hike to White Clay Creek State Park and saw lots of Spring things. We saw wildflowers, the redbud tree, nesting geese on the creek, heard some migratory warblers that had already arrived, and found some tadpoles and tadpole eggs in a puddle. Everyone got to put their fingers on the toad eggs. They were little black dots inside a tube of slippery jelly. We are watching a praying mantis egg case and waiting for it to hatch. We collected it from Phillips Park last winter and put it in the refrigerator. We are also watching some tadpoles in a tank. We hope to see them turn into frogs!
- THURSDAY: This morning we worked with Group 3 students, playing games they had invented in Spanish. We used our best Spanish pronunciation. It was really fun.
- FRIDAY: Today is a half-day. We worked on our new stories and then had chorus practice to get ready for our concert. We also celebrated C’s 3/4 birthday. (His birthday is in the summer, and students with summer birthdays may elect to celebrate them during the school year as 1/2 birthdays, 3/4 birthdays, etc. Please let a teacher know if this is planned.)
Group 2, 3rd & 4th Grades
As always, it was a busy week. After looking at seeds sprouting last week, we planted some seeds in dirt and are hoping to see them emerge from the earth starting this week. We had found that seeds left in the closet to sprout did just fine—often better than those on the windowsill did, where they were more prone to dry out.
In Math, we made some posters using shapes of area 4 created from squares and triangles. We had come up with over 50 possible combinations—more than many kids had predicted were possible. Then we played a strategy game using geoboards called “Square Up.” The game is played with partners, and the object is to make the corners of a square. We will continue playing this week, looking for winning strategies. The kids working with clues are beginning a new type of problem.
We read a couple of short non-fiction books this week: Cornstalks and Cannonballs, about the British attack on Lewes during the War of 1812, and Robert Fulton, about the artist and inventor. Then we started one of Roald Dahl’s longer short stories, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. We’ve asked our writers to continue working on their story planning. They filled out a story planning page, and we have begun having conferences with them to discuss what they are considering for plots. Not surprisingly, there is a wide range of topics. We’ve asked kids to consider Groups 1 and 2 as their audience, keeping their topics and imagery appropriate for those readers.
We enjoyed our visit to the Paul R. Jones Collection to see Edward Loper, Sr.’s work. The kids looked very closely at the paintings, noticing many details of content and style. If you haven’t had a chance to see the exhibit, I recommend it.
We did some spring cleaning on Wednesday. First we scrubbed the undersides of all the tables to remove unwanted writing there. Then we went to Phillips Park to do NCCL’s monthly clean-up. The kids were very diligent with both activities, and we expect that future writing will be confined to appropriate surfaces.
On Friday we had chorus rehearsal with Margaret in preparation for our concert on Thursday, May 3rd. We will be practicing Tuesday and Wednesday mornings next week.
Thanks to those of you who were able to attend the NCCL Writing Symposium on Thursday night. As a staff, we learned a lot from each other as we prepared for the event. We are hoping to repeat the presentation some time next year, so please consider attending next time.
- Monday, May 7 – No school. The staff will be starting the time-consuming task of working on end-of-year reports.
- Tuesday, May 8 – Afternoon trip to the Delaware History Museum to look at early 19th-century life.
- Wednesday, May 9 – Movement Class at the UD in the afternoon.
- Wednesday, May 9 – 7 p.m.: NCCL Meeting—we’ll be making decisions about fund raising activities for next year, so come to make your thoughts known. Please sign up for child care ahead of time.
- Wednesday, May 16 – all day trip to the Ms’ Maryland house for water activities (mostly kayaking and sailing). We are seeking sea-worthy chaperones—a familiarity with boats would be great, and you have to be willing to get wet repeatedly.
- Monday, May 28 – no school in observance of Memorial Day.
- Tuesday, May 29 – Friday, June 1 – Joe will be camping with Group 4, and Kate will be with Sue in Group 2.
- Thursday, June 7 – 10:00 am: NCCL Graduation. All NCCL community members are invited to attend this event. Dismissal is at noon – for the year!
Group 3, 5th & 6th Grades
- We had our first Outdoor Skills class at Rittenhouse Park. The challenge was to build a shelter as if you were stranded in the wild. It was a lot of fun, and the woods were beautiful with May Apples, Mayflowers and Jack-in-the-Pulpits galore. Friday afternoon we will head out to another park for yet another challenge. We will be gone from 12:30 to 2:45 pm. It would be very helpful if your child has appropriate shoes and long pants. There is poison ivy around!
- Our trip to the Kalmar Nyckel was great. On Tuesday, Barbara Mayer, the education director for the Kalmar Nyckel, visited our class and gave us a great preview. She was delightful and had many interesting stories about sailors and life aboard ship. She taught us how to “heave” along with a sea shanty (only the appropriate verses!) On Wednesday in addition to touring the boat we got to raise the mizzen sail and earned about mechanical advantage, saw a blacksmith demonstration, and played games typical of early America. I had requests to make some of the toys at school, which we will do. Thanks to J for helping us out on the trip. (By the way, we need another parent who is willing to help us on the camping trip to Trap Pond, June 4, 5 & 6; so far we have only one adult beside the teachers.)
- We have a trip to Greenbank Mill in Wilmington on Friday, May 11. We’ll follow the journey of agricultural products from raw materials on the farm to finished goods from mills, learn about the heritage sheep, and participate in preparing wool for spinning and weaving. We’ll do some cooking, soap making, and other chores. If time allows, we’ll tour the heritage gardens and learn about the medicinal use of plants. We’ll need to leave school at 8:30 am and we will return by 12:30pm. That is a half-day Friday.
- We planted the pea plants, lettuce, and some of the sunflowers in the garden behind our room. We hope that we are able to harvest a salad before the end of school. We also took a look at the graphs of growth that we kept and identified the days of most rapid growth. For students in Math I, we talked about the rise and the run as they show up on a coordinate graph. In Geometry we spent time understanding the relationship between volume and surface area of rectangular prisms and in Math II have begun to look at the “nets” of solid shapes.
- Remember that Monday (May 7) is an in-service day for the teachers so there is no school.
- Call or e-mail if you have any questions or concerns.
Group 4, 7th & 8th Grades
- As you all know the play was an enormous success! The kids did a fantastic job on their lines and their characters. We have heard more than a few people say that it was the best NCCL play that they have ever seen. The kids even did an impromptu show for the College School last Friday, which was much enjoyed and appreciated by the kids and teachers from the school. Thanks for all of your support!
- In Writing class the non-grads are ready to jump headfirst into the “This I Believe” essay project. We have done a lot of sharing and reading of This I Believe essays. Each kid was responsible for finding an essay from the NPR website that spoke to him/her in some way. They had to read the essay to the class and discuss its merits. We are having some great class discussions and the kids are doing a wonderful job facilitating. We have done a great deal of brainstorming, reading, writing and soul searching and are now ready to hone in on a belief about which to write. During the next week, the kids will be writing “vomit drafts”, writing about personal experiences which helped shape their belief, looking for quotes and thinking about engaging leads. If you are interested in reading some essays, look on the NPR This I Believe website.
- The Grads have been working on their NCCL essays. They have been studying the NCCL philosophy and thinking about how it is reflected in their experiences at the school. The essays will be presented at a Grad night ceremony. (Hopefully a new NCCL tradition.) They have also been working on their independent study projects. Most of the kids are in the midst of interviewing people that will give them more insight into the questions that they want answered. The results of their projects will also be presented on Grad night and we are still hammering out how that will go.
- By the way, we are STILL taping the plays, however, we are down to less than 1/2 to go! YIKES!
- In Reading, the kids have been working on their book reviews for the “Leave Your Book” project. They will be posting them on the new fabulous addition to our website. The website is a place where anyone can leave book reviews on a variety of genres (a la Amazon style). All information posted has to go through an editor, which will be a staff member in the school, most likely Kate for awhile. The site is completely safe and there is no direct interaction between postings. We are hoping that parents will also use the site to share thoughts on the books that they are reading. We want to build a school community of readers. The website is still under construction, but you can sign on as a parent member and take a look at it. If you have any suggestions for additions or applications, let me know. Thank you so much to J.H. for taking the time to help us find and set up this site!!! We think it will be a wonderful and dynamic addition to our curriculum.
- In Research we are getting ready to prepare for our “town meeting.” Each kid will be assigned a role as a community member in Delaware on the eve of the Civil War. They will be responsible for contributing that community member’s viewpoints in an interactive dramatic rendition of what a town meeting would have looked like back then. We will be doing our activity within an all-school meeting. The kids continue to read and take notes on the history book And Justice for All?. They will also be reading an historical fiction book that takes place during the time period that we are studying.
- Ray has been working with both the grads and the non-grads reviewing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of fractions and decimals. The Grads are looking at “big words for small ideas” which are concepts like the distributive and communitive properties of addition and subtraction. Sounds scary and intimidating until you know what they mean.
- The kids are studying Biology in Science class. They are learning about evolution and genetics. More info to follow as they get more into the subjects…
IMPORTANT DATES (And there are lots of them!)
- May 8th – Davis Hammond’s play at DTC 7:30pm. A van from school will transport Group 4 students who want to attend. (Please send in permission slip if riding in van.)
- May 9th – 7pm – NCCL parent/teacher monthly meeting
- May 17th – 18th – overnight to Greenbank Mill for Lewis and Clark experience. We will leave at 9 am on Thursday and will return by 3 pm on Friday. A list of required items will follow…
- May 23rd – trip to Washington DC – Times will follow…
- May 29th – June 1st – Camping Trip to Trap Pond – Times will follow
- June 5th – Graduates – 7pm – Grad presentation (serious graduation ceremony) night.
- June 7th – 10 pm – Graduation/last day of school
As always, e-mail or call us with any questions or concerns.