Children enter The Mill School with a wide variety of schooling and educational experiences. Some children have been educated at home, some have attended independent schools, and others have transferred from local public schools.

All students are welcomed into a nurturing home-like environment where individual growth is honored and supported.

Literacy and Math Workshops

Daily academic subjects at The Mill School consist of Literacy and Math.

The class is split by age group during these academic times. The younger children, The Ravens, work with Amanda, and the older children, The Kingbirds, work with Laurie. We try to maintain roughly an even number of children in each academic group.

Math and literacy exercises engage students through movement, play, drawing, and written practice.  Read below for more specifics!

The Ravens

Our youngest group enjoys daily movement in both Literacy and Math workshops.  The movements may include crossing the mid-line, balancing while walking forwards or backwards on the balance beam, crawling, jumping, crab walking, forming letters with their bodies, etc. This physical component of workshops engages the child's whole body. The movements are designed specifically to engage the body and the mind so that the children are ready to incorporate their newly developing academic skills.
The Ravens practice Literacy through art, movement, writing, listening to stories and reading books, when ready, at appropriate levels.  Every day there is a Read Aloud story.  Before Read Aloud each day, the children take turns recapping what happened yesterday in the story with vivid details and language. One child begins the recap and when they are ready, they call on another student to add details that they want to share. In this way, they create a shared summary and memory of what has happened in the book. Throughout the year the children enjoy nursery rhymes, verses, alliterative rhymes and poetry.  We often work on reciting and thus memorizing poems combining the words with rhythm and movement.

Writing and Drawing
The children also have a chance to capture what they heard by drawing a picture. This creates fun dialog among all of us as we remember details and try to draw them.  The written work depends on each individual child.  Some are working on letter sound recognition and writing their upper case and lower case letters, others work on sounding out words in a sentence with Amanda's help, and others write their own summary of the day’s story.  

Math work takes many shapes during the Raven's workshop time.  The individual work consists of daily computation sheets as each child progresses through the four processes (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, integrating algebra throughout as appropriate) at their own pace, while getting help when needed from the teacher.

The Ravens play a variety of math games, practice counting and skip-counting verses with rhythmical movement.  These games and counting exercises are done with the group, so that they are not only learning Math, but also learning to work together and help each other out for the group’s success.

The children also work together doing different Math projects.  The children have set up “stores” and priced items, sold items and purchased items gaining a sense of our money system while counting, adding, subtracting and having fun.  We have also worked with fractions through measuring and baking.  We have worked with weight, creating our own balance scales and measuring and weighing objects.   Measuring has come from using our own bodies as measuring tools then moving on to rulers, yard sticks, etc…The Math projects are designed to create a place for the children to work together to share their knowledge, while also learning from others in a real world, fun environment.


The Kingbirds

Our older group builds on the foundation they have developed in the earlier grades. Read Aloud continues each day, starting with the creation of a shared summary at the beginning of each day's reading. As we read, we stop to discuss issues of interest. The Kingbirds share stories from their own lives that relate to the text. They notice and talk about issues that are relevant to them, including topics such as growing up, stereotypes, friends, and families. We also discuss techniques that authors use such as foreshadowing, great first lines, creating rich imagery, effective use of dialogue, and more.

The Kingbirds also gain practice with reading by being given time to read silently and independently. We engage in occasional "reading interviews", where Laurie sits with each child individually, to listen to the child read out loud from their current text, and to talk about what the students are reading. Good books are an important part of the classroom dialogue, and making book recommendations to both classmates and teachers is a frequent informal occurrence. More formally, one student from the Kingbirds recommends a book each Wednesday. The children have also participated in book clubs, reading a shared text in a small group, discussing the book as they read together, then creating a final project when the book is complete.

During Writer's Workshop, the older students are encouraged to become personally involved with their writing while also continuing to work on mastering the conventions necessary for written communication. We work together as a writing group, supporting each other in making individual progress and creating great works. The children write to express themselves. They practice writing a variety of genres. They write independently, edit their own work, engage in peer editing conferences, and read their writing to the group. Some of the written pieces are taken through the entire publication process and ultimately published and shared at a publishing party at the end of the year.

The Kingbirds are spend time their mathematical computation skills each day. Each child progresses at their own pace, working to master multiple digit multiplication and division, and to gain familiarity with algebraic equations, manipulating fractions, decimals, and percents, deepening their sense of large numbers, and working with graphs and tables. Math projects have included investigations of form drawing as it relates to geometry, an exploration of place value and number sense with very big and very small numbers, and practice with patterns and algebraic functions. Math projects offer a time for the older children to explore concepts and construct personal knowledge based on purposeful engagement with mathematical concepts.