At Stratford Friends, many of our students struggle with learning to read and with reading comprehension. As pioneers in educating students with learning differences, we understand the importance of laying a solid foundation in phonics and building upon that foundation with comprehension skills, reading fluency, and vocabulary development. Our program is delivered through a daily two-hour literacy block.
Our students are taught to read using the Orton-Gillingham Approach to Language Instruction. We use Take Flight®, an Orton-Gillingham research-based curriculum, to provide phonics instruction using multisensory techniques. Visual, auditory, and tactile-kinesthetic learning modalities are reinforced through systematic, explicit, diagnostic and prescriptive instruction. This method develops the language abilities of each child by teaching foundational reading skills and concepts through the involvement of all the student’s senses.
As students progress in their reading ability, comprehension skills are explicitly taught using a variety of rich literature and informational texts. Students learn to activate prior knowledge, make connections, predict outcomes, build vocabulary, make inferences, identify the main idea, ask questions, visualize, evaluate, summarize, and synthesize. Teachers help students develop independent strategies for learning, creating an atmosphere of curiosity, and enthusiasm for reading.
Mastering the usage of our language is essential to success in school and beyond. The curriculum is a blend of writing, reading, and literature. Students read engaging books to promote fluency and comprehension. Decoding strategies, spelling patterns, and word study enable students to learn to read and spell more complicated words. Students refine their grammar skills in the context of crafting written responses to literature, blogging, and essay writing. An emphasis is placed on self-evaluations and peer evaluations with an eye toward effective revision strategies. Vocabulary development is emphasized throughout.
The Writing Revolution®
The Writing Revolution is a method of teaching writing that provides students with explicit, scaffolded instruction based in the content of the curriculum. The method was developed by Judith Hochman, a teacher at an independent school for students with language-based learning differences. Hochman observed that her students did not intuitively know how to write and needed the type of sequential, explicit instruction used to teach struggling readers.
The writing process can be overwhelming for students with learning differences, placing many demands on executive functions. Students must generate and organize ideas and information, understand the role of grammar and syntax, engage in the physical process of handwriting or typing, and sustain their effort and attention. The Writing Revolution eases the burden on executive functions by breaking the writing process into manageable chunks, then having students practice the chunks repeatedly while also learning content.
Making Math Real®
This is an innovative, research-based program that integrates key cognitive development such as symbol imaging, detail analysis, and sequence processing within every lesson. Instruction is delivered through three processing modalities: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-motoric.
In Middle School, students study American History from its earliest peoples through modern times. Exploring how America has developed and changed, students collaborate on projects, presentations, and reenactments to gain a deeper understanding of significant events, individuals, and documents that have shaped our nation. Students learn to read and interpret primary sources in addition to textbooks and narratives. Teachers help students develop academic writing skills necessary for success in the content areas in high school.
In 7th grade, students learn about Native American life, colonization, the birth of the nation, establishing a government, westward expansion, and the Civil War. Eighth-grade topics include the Industrial Revolution, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, civil rights, Vietnam, space exploration, the internet age, and 9/11.
Science / STEAM
The Middle School Science curriculum is inquiry-based. Students learn scientific concepts and skills, using technology, engineering, visual and performing arts, and math (STEAM). There is a strong emphasis on hands-on investigations and students engage in collaborative projects and design activities to provide an understanding of the applications of science in the modern world.
Music at Stratford supports the growth and development of the whole child, while building a life-long love of music. In accordance with the National Association for Musical Education and Pennsylvania Standards for Arts & Humanities, students are taught the elements and structure of music, encounter and analyze music that spans across time, place, and cultures. Students sing and perform on instruments, alone and with others. In addition to weekly general music class, students participate in concerts, musicals, plays and outreach events. Students grades 5–9 are invited to participate in band, and grades 6–9 in chorus/theatre.
Our art program focuses on developing the student’s unique creativity and self-expression through the exploration of art materials and themes. Students draw, paint, sculpt, and work with ceramics, collage, and a variety of digital arts. Art class is a place where students explore and develop their own creative expression while beginning to explore the many different roles art takes in our everyday lives.