Prospective Parent Resources: Lower School
Kindergarten Virtual Campus Tour
Join our enrollment coordinator, Janet Tomko, on a virtual tour of campus as we follow a day in the life of an ACA kindergartener.
Únase a nuestra coordinadora de matriculas de la escuela Atlanta Classical, Janet Tomko, a un recorrido virtual de lo que sería un día de clase de un estudiante de Kindergarten.
Photo Slideshow: Life at Atlanta Classical Academy
Click below to take a peek into the daily life of an ACA student!
Popular Topics: Lower Grades
Implementation of Classical Education in Lower Grades
In the younger grades of a classical education, children are “bombarded” with information. A child’s brain is ready to absorb all the information, and that is what the ACA elementary school day is full of – immersing our students in knowledge. In literature, history, and science we read real trade books instead of books from a basal reader, building a rich vocabulary from an early age. Class discussions in our early grades point our students to virtues displayed in the literature we read. Students are taught phonics, spelling and handwriting in a systematic, explicit way. In history, instead of studying communities and community helpers, we study the seven continents and early civilizations.
Giving our students knowledge of plants and animals, learning about major events, and reading complex literature in the elementary years gives our students context in their upper school courses. The elementary years at ACA provide our students with building blocks needed for the later grades where the students will start learning “why” things work.
We teach our students all the essential building blocks of the English language to give an incredibly thorough understanding of the language to enhance reading and spelling. K starts with phonological awareness, which are exercises in manipulating the sounds of the English language aurally. Once students are proficient at this, we begin to teach them phonograms (written sounds) and reading/spelling rules. This approach to teaching reading and spelling has students using critical thinking skills to decode and encode words with confidence.
The English language is crazy, but there are rules. Our goal is to teach our students the rules of our wonderful and varied language so our students can read with automaticity and fluency. Instead of teaching children to memorize words, we teach our students how words work. In reading we discuss all the different sounds a letter or letter combinations may make and in spelling we teach all the ways a sound may be spelled.
Further reading: “Why American Kids Aren’t Being Taught To Read” – American Public Media
Technology in K-6 Classrooms
Teachers utilize the document camera to be able to display anything on the board. We also have a projector in every classroom, and we use that to project things from the computer onto the board. We use the projector to show Powerpoints of information and short educational videos of content area learning. Teachers all have a school-issued laptop for their professional use.
Students only use technology for MAP testing and potentially IEP/ESOL needs. We believe in the power of the teacher-student relationship in learning; children learn with paper, pencils, and real books.
Student Services Department
We have a fully staffed Student Services Department and follow all legal guidelines and requirements to meet the needs of students who have learning differences. Our student support services team also helps teachers provide Tier 1, 2, and 3 interventions to students who are struggling and move forward in the eligibility process if necessary. We have a reading specialist and several Orton-Gillingham – trained teachers/teaching assistants when we identify students with learning differences in literacy. If more assistance is required, we begin delivering SST/RTI instruction that could lead to a student’s evaluation for special education. Our wonderful special education department is equipped to meet every student’s needs.
When a student struggles in math, we complete the same process as in literacy. Struggling students receive extra support from their teacher or a TA in math or literacy. Following legal guidelines means the student will typically receive extra instruction during Spanish or another special 2-3 times a week. If this instruction is able to improve the student’s understanding of the material, the student would stop receiving the extra support. If the student still struggles with this added support, the student would increase the amount of support he or she receives which may eventually lead to the special education evaluation.
Atlanta Classical Academy is a small school by design; there are 54 students per grade in all grades (K-12.) We have three kindergarten classes and the students are divided roughly equally into each class. We have one full-time teacher per classroom. We also have several assistant teachers that float in the kindergarten classes, literacy and math specialists that provide lessons and enrichment in the classrooms, in small groups, and one-on-one with students, and additional teachers for art, music, foreign language, physical education.
Opportunities for High-Achieving Students
Our curriculum is incredibly rigorous and provides challenges to all students. Our small size provides us the opportunity to know our students very well and to be flexible in class assignments and levels. When a teacher sees that a student is excelling in an area, they have the flexibility to provide more enrichment in that area and can even have a student in class with students in higher grades when it is appropriate. This is true throughout the school, but becomes more obvious in high school, where we have students from different grades enrolled in many math, science and foreign language classes. We offer college-level classes in the high school for students that qualify. We frequently have students in very small classes – sometimes as small as 1 or 2 students – in order to accommodate advanced students.