Lower School, Grades 1-5:
With the caring and skilled guidance of our lower school faculty and administration, students learn to organize, prioritize, and manage their own learning. They begin to develop the core academic skills in Torah learning, literacy, numeracy, science and the arts that will serve as the foundation for advanced studies as they grow. Both the Judaic and General Studies curriculum are challenging and developmentally appropriate.
Students routinely explore their studies through interdisciplinary hands-on experiences and state-of-the art technology that helps to develop intellectual curiosity and promote creativity. Students are taught by teachers who understand the whole child, and reach beyond the parameters of the classroom to connect, inspire and foster a love for learning. Our lower school also has a strong focus on social and emotional development and overall middot. One of the unique advantages of HALB’s lower school is our Blended Learning program. Scroll down to the bottom and click on "Brief description of blended learning and digital content" to learn more about this innovative, technology based program that ensures no child is left behind.
Middle School, Grades 6-8:
As our students enter middle school, they are well-prepared for our departmentalized program, building upon the foundation of the lower school, and are appropriately guided towards developing independence and ownership of their own learning. They delve more deeply and broadly into their core academic subjects with an emphasis on 21st century skills such as critical thinking, questioning, problem solving and collaboration. As they become young adults, there is a strong emphasis on living and loving a Torah way of life. There are numerous opportunities for extracurricular activities, and we have a sophisticated approach towards healthy social emotional growth at this complex stage of life. Our graduates walk out of HALB ready, willing, able and inspired to tackle high school and beyond.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF BLENDED LEARNING AND DIGITAL CONTENT
HALB Lower School Blended Learning & Analytics:
Overview: Since 2014 HALB has been in the process of introducing and developing a “Blended Learning” model in Kindergarten through 5th grade. Based on the research from Benjamin Bloom’s “2 Sigma Problem”, evidence that small-group instruction had the most positive impact on a student's academic development. In order to achieve greater success, HALB has adopted a rotation model which lends itself to provide small group instruction (SGI). Teachers are able to provide a more personalized learning by splitting their class in half, where half the students work with a teacher, while the other students are on individualized instructional software. Students are grouped according to academic abilities. This grouping is done with input from teacher insight, as well as the data provided by the assessment and learning software. When groups are no larger than six pupils, teachers can provide more personalized attention with corrective feedback and higher engagement.
Routines & Classroom Layout:
To implement SGI optimally, a HALB classroom is designed and maintained to keep distractions and obstacles to learning at a minimum. The walking paths throughout the classroom must be easily visible and accessible so that students are able to move safely and easily from activities. This enables the students to rotate seamlessly between activities and lose very little time on tasks.The classroom is viewed completely as a communal space. Supplies and materials are shared and there are no permanent seats. This layout reinforces the notion that students are to use different spaces around the classroom for different purposes.
The classroom has a designated computer station giving ample space for students to complete their digital work. As such, before introducing computer work into the classroom, classes need to demonstrate mastery of the class routines for getting on and off of the computers. Furthermore, the teacher is required to complete a grouping form, seating chart and assign roles in the classroom like ‘Tech Helpers’. When students are able to operate independently in the classroom, the teacher is able to focus a greater amount of attention on teaching rather than managing.
The Blended Learning program has a dedicated team responsible for the implementation, training, and maintenance of the program. It is led by a director who is a member of the administration of the lower school. The Director is responsible for training staff on the Blended Learning model, and enhancing the integration and expansion of the model into general instruction. Furthermore, the Director is responsible for maintaining and creating systems for collection, distribution, communication and visualization of the data.
Digital Programs & Data:
Over the years HALB has vetted, introduced and re-evaluated the learning software used in the Blended Learning program. The programs are intended to be individualized and self-paced with a specific purpose in the overall instructional experience of every student (provided below is a brief description of each ELA and Math program and its instructional goal.) Digital content is aligned with Common Core Standards as well as HALB’s general studies curricular goals. Math programs are intended to introduce and reinforce Math concepts and skills on grade level. For example, while 3rd grade students in small groups are introduced to fractions, on the computers, they may work on discovering equivalent fractions by manipulating different fractions visually. ELA programs develop the foundation for language and literacy skills including decoding, sight words and vocabulary. Students are on varying points of the reading trajectory. To match the wide range of reading abilities, the programs are individualized. For example, a 4th grader may be placed at the end of 2nd grade level to focus on single syllable spelling rules. The software used in the classroom is an integral piece of the student's entire academic experience.
Through our in-house developed data tracking system, student progress is monitored closely to ensure difficulty levels are appropriate, students are completing their designated amounts of time on content, and if they need assistance with their program. If the latter is found, the student is then provided with instructional support. Instructional support is provided by scheduling students for whom instructional software data indicates they are struggling. Using our data system, students are scheduled during their rotation time to work in the Blended Learning room instead of working in the classroom. The needs vary from students who might need a quick explanation of the task, to students who may need to be taken off of the computer for a one-on-one lesson on their content material. For example, a student may be working on estimating on the number-line on a digital program. A member of the blended learning team will first check to ensure the student exhibits stable knowledge of the number line. If this is the case, they may then on the program work on strategies with the students on how to visualize benchmarks on the number-line to select the correct number. On a daily basis, 40 to 70 kids are scheduled for one on one support and facilitation.
Lexia Core5, Grades K-4:
In this program students build literacy skills with a focus on the core elements of literacy development: phonics,textual analysis, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Based on an embedded assessment, students are placed on an appropriate level for them. Each level is split into 5 activities. Within an activity students are given instruction on the activity. If they are unable to complete the task they are provided guided practice. If this does not help, they are provided instruction on the activity. Students cannot move forward until they show mastery of the activity.
iReady Reading, Grades K-3; Math, Grades K-1:
In this program students are assigned leveled lessons based on their performance on a diagnostic test embedded in the program. Students complete lessons in all domains of Math and Reading based on their individual needs. The lessons are structured in a “direct instruction” manner with some corrective feedback as students progress through the lesson. To move from one lesson to the next, they must get a 75% or higher at the end of the lesson, otherwise they repeat it.
Achieve3000, Grades 4-5:
Based on the Lexile framework on literacy, Achieve3000 is an adaptive program which uses high interest reading content to develop reading comprehension. Before launching in the classrooms, students take an assessment to place them on an appropriate reading level. Using Achieve’s vast collection, teachers assign their class articles relating to their class’ work or overall curricular goals. Once articles are assigned, students are able to read the same content on their independent level and they answer comprehension, opinion and analysis questions appropriate for their reading abilities.
STMath, Grades K-4:
By design, we instructionally seek to approach math concepts from multiple approaches. STMath is “visual instructional program that leverages the brain's innate spatial-temporal reasoning ability to solve mathematical problems.” The program develops abstract mathematical concepts by introducing scaffolded and concrete ‘puzzles’. As the student progresses the abstraction of the math concepts are introduced and reinforced. For example, students are introduced to adding on the numberline by first seeing birds sitting on a wire and having a designated amount fly away. Eventually that wire turns into the number line and students learn how to utilize it. Students move at their own pace through grade level content to develop mastery.
ReflexMath, Grades 2-4:
To develop higher level math skills, students require fast and accurate retrieval of math facts. ReflexMath is an adaptive program that trains students in addition/subtraction (2nd Grade) and multiplication/division (3rd and 4th) facts. Using proven methods for memorization as well as gamification, students throughout the year progress through the program as they develop mastery of fact families. The blended learning team monitors student growth. Towards the middle of the year, the team will determine who is not growing as expected. The team will conference with the student and the teacher to plan for an intervention where the student can be directly supported to develop their math facts.