A typical day at The Mill School
9:00 We meet at the stump circle for Morning Meeting, a chance for us to greet each other, share news of our weekends, sing a song, play a game, have relay races, or go through an obstacle course (parts of our Morning Meeting move inside in the coldest months of winter).
9:30 The Ravens and Kingbirds split up to work on Math projects that involve critical math routines as well as hands-on, real-world math projects. Some days one group will stay outside for part or all of this workshop.
10:30 We sit in mixed groups at two lunch tables for snack. Children bring their snack from home. Those who finish eating first often play a quiet game, draw, or use one of our many "fidgets" (hand games, often with a logic-mathematical component).
11:00 The Ravens go outside for Outdoor Time. The Kingbirds go upstairs for Read Aloud and Writers' Workshop.
11:45 The Ravens come inside for Read Aloud and Writing. The Kingbirds go outside for Outdoor Time.
12:30 Lunch at our tables begins with a moment of silence and the lighting of a candle. As with snack, children bring their lunches from home.
1:00 During Readers' Workshop the children engage in short mini-lessons presented by the teachers. These mini-lessons include strategies for choosing good books as well as sharing book recommendations. Then all the children read quietly upstairs in the classroom. Periodically, the teachers sit and read with each child. Sometimes children enjoy a shared text downstairs.
1:30 The children work independently during Computation time, working to progress through functional computational skills such as the four operations, negative numbers, fractions, graphing, exponents, right on up through Algebra 1 and Geometry for those who are ready. Each child works to employ mathematical tools and master mathematical skills at her or his own pace.
2:00 Each child has a Daily Job to do at the end of each day. Jobs include things such as sharpening the pencils, washing the chalkboard, straightening the couch pillows, wiping down the tables, watering the plant, organizing the library, etc. When the children are all done with their jobs for the day, the school space is left tidy and ready for the next school day.
2:15 The whole class heads outdoors for Sit Spots and then free play time. The children sit in the same spot in nature for a few moments each school day. They have three Sit Spots throughout the year. The children are encouraged to use their senses, to breathe, and to enjoy the natural world around them for a few quiet moments. Then the children choose how to spend their Outdoor Time...some children engage in imaginative play, some play group games, in winter they often sled or work on snow forts, and in the fall they often build stick forts or play soccer. Other times they swing on the swings, use the zip line, or play along the balance beam.
3:00 We gather once again at the stump circle to say our good-bye's before parting ways for the day.
Weekly happenings at The Mill School:
Every Tuesday, Toki Oshima teaches a one-hour art class for each workshop group. Children work on projects related to the curriculum, such as building on concepts from Read Aloud books or publishing poems written at Writers' Workshop. Toki also offers the children the opportunity to practice new skills of artistic expression.
Every Thursday, we have a Class Meeting to support our social/emotional curriculum. Here we set goals for the year, develop our shared codes of conduct (called Class Norms), and address issues as they arise in the community. Part of Class Meeting is also dedicated to caring for the self. Lessons in this area include breathing awareness and techniques, stretching, tapping into our senses through sound and smell, yoga, and enjoying relaxing guided meditations.
Seasonal activities at The Mill School
Late August Work Party
Students and families gather at the mill to work together to ready the school building and grounds for the upcoming school year.
Autumn and Springtime Stewardship of the Hills To Sea Trail
The class hikes a section of the Hills To Sea Trail, tending to the section that the school stewards in conjunction with the Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance (SWLA).
Winter Contra Dancing
Once a week for six weeks, Chrissy Fowler leads us in contra dancing. This residency is made possible through a residency funded by Belfast Flying Shoes.
Community Contra Dance at the Freedom Grange
The class contra dancing instruction culminates in the annual Community Dance held down the road from the mill at the Dirigo Grance in Freedom Village.
From January to March, the whole class rehearses for he class play for 45 minutes each day. This culminates in a school play that is performed for school friends and families at the Dirigo Grange in Freedom Village.
A Spirit Day is held in the springtime and voted on by the class. The past two years we enjoyed Crazy Hair or Hat Day and 'Dress As The Future You' Day.
Adventure Race, Field Day, and Pizza Day
Held during the last days of the school year, the children enjoy an Adventure Race around the mill and adjoining farm as well as a Field Day, held next door at Mitchell Field. We also have a Pizza Day the last week of school where the older children makes pizza for the class.
Kingbird Publishing Party and 8th Grade Share
School families and friends are invited to listen as each Kingbird reads a piece of their writing out loud to the audience. Students in the 8th grade present their 8th grade projects, self-developed home study projects they have worked on throughout the year. Eighth grade projects of the past include volunteering at an animal shelter, exploring a local radio station, building a wooden bench to donate to the school, and sewing 19th century hats.
Visits from Local Experts
Each year our emergent curriculum leads us to inviting in local experts. In the past we have enjoyed visits from the LC Bates Museum to aid our study of owls, local ornithologists who came and walked us around the mill and adjoining farm viewing birds, a local dance instructor who came to help us choreograph the play, a visiting yoga instructor to support our Class Meeting curriculum, a DEP representative to teach us about watersheds, and the engineers from California who set up the turbines that run below the mill taught us a bit about how turbines work! We love having visitors in to support the work we are doing at school.
Events for Parents during the School Year
Each year we hold a couple of evenings that offer a chance to connect as adults, as well as provide an opportunity for Laurie and Amanda to share what is happening in the classroom.
Each Fall we have individual Parent-Teacher conversations. These provide a way for parents and teachers to come together to talk about the growth of the children. Laurie and Amanda also welcome parent input during the year and often check in with parents through emails, phone calls, and in-person check-in's after school as the school year unfolds.