The Spaulding Approach

Hands on learning at its best

The Spaulding Approach

Child Learning

Here at Spaulding, we take a unique approach to education. We aim to ensure that all students have the opportunity to gain an in depth understanding of all the concepts being taught by catering to a variety of learning styles, and using different types of activities so students can choose what they enjoy and makes sense to them. We also want to always ensure students are being challenged, so gifted students and those who excel at one or more subjects will be able to work ahead at their individual skill levels.

We start off the year with grade assessments and place student in a graded class based on where the majority of their skills are, not by age. These assessments also allow teachers to provide individualized support. So if a student is at a grade 5 level in most skills but struggles in math, the teacher can offer review from grade 4 material to bring them up to the grade 5 level before continuing. Or if a student is at a grade 4 level in most subjects but quickly learns new math concepts, they may be offered the grade 5 or 6 math work related to the current concept being taught to further their skills.
For gifted students or anyone who excels at any subjects, there are no limits on the amount of material they can go through in one school year. We always want students to remain challenged so there is no set number of questions for a concept that they are required to complete. If a student is able to do 10 questions from an activity/worksheet and understand the concept and want something harder, then they are free to move on to either the next concept or the next grade level of the same concept to extend their learning.

We want kids to have fun and enjoy learning, so whenever possible, we aim to use a variety of types of activities to allow students to learn and practice different concepts. For example, instead of having a long, plain worksheet of multiplication questions, we may use a math bingo game where the calling cards say 5×7, 9×12 etc. and their bingo sheets have the answers to the multiplication problems so they have to calculate the answers to be able to mark it off on their cards. Then it becomes an exciting game that they are much more likely to enjoy. Parents or siblings can even play along with many of the game-type activities.

Keeping all students interested, engaged, and challenged is incredibly important to education, so we always provide as many opportunities as possible for self expression and individual choice. For example, students are able to choose their own books for novel studies, and they will be able to choose a topic of interest for independent research projects.
A critical part of our teaching style is how we build on skills to build students’ confidence. In many schools, if a student doesn’t understand a concept one week, then they may feel even more lost the following week when the class has moved on. With our teaching methods, not only do we have a multifaceted teaching approach to cater to all learning styles (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic), but we also offer a wide variety of learning options so students can choose the activities that make sense to them. Whenever possible we teach multiple ways of understanding any given concept. For example, we have an activity that shows 4 different ways of how to do multi-digit addition. Then we can use that to see who prefers what approach and use that preference as a reference point to guide them towards understanding the other approaches until they have a solid knowledge base and are completely comfortable with the concept.

To build students' confidence and skills, and to assist others in the class, we also offer opportunities for peer teaching because there are often many ways to teach various concepts, and different ways to view and understand a concept. By allowing students to explain to the class how they found the answer to a question, it may give a struggling student a different view that might make more sense to them, it may give another student an idea for a faster way to do something, it allows students to talk through a problem so they feel more comfortable asking questions, and it promotes educational discussions between students where the teacher can help guide the conversation as needed but at the same time allow students to make connections and find the answer in a more organic way.

We also have regular comprehension assessment assignments. These assignments do not count towards a student's mark but allow the teacher to see who may need additional instruction in various concepts. So instead of a student dreading a test because they know they won’t do well, we do comprehension assessments a week before a test so there is time to go back and do review as needed to help ensure everyone feels confident in their skills before doing a test that does count towards their marks. We value understanding over schedule, so if we need to spend more time on one concept, that’s ok. If the class breezes through another concept and doesn’t need as much time on it, that’s ok too. Our approach allows the flexibility needed to ensure the success of our students.

The Spaulding method always emphasizes hands on learning, for example using Lego as a visual aid to help students understand fractions, or using items as counters to let them physically move things to help them understand division. For science, whenever possible, we want students to be able to conduct simple experiments instead of just reading about it in a textbook. We want them to be able to see things first hand to gain a deeper understanding of the subjects and concepts they are learning.

And of course we know how much kids enjoy using technology, so we also incorporate online/app learning options for some subjects as well. These options can be enjoyed by everyone, but are particularly useful for gifted students as it gives them the opportunity to work ahead as they so choose, while still allowing the teacher to see what they are working on, track their progress, and give individualized instruction.

A big part of the Spaulding teaching method is asking students what they need instead of giving one size fits all instruction. So during the daily zoom meeting instruction times, the teacher will be prepared to teach the concepts being introduced that week, but will always start with a class discussion and asking students what questions they have and what they need so anyone who has a quick question can have it answered and get to work instead of wasting time and having to wait until the end of the lesson. This is also beneficial to shy students who don’t like to ask questions, so this may answer their questions without them having to ask so they get what they need, and seeing so many other students ask questions will hopefully eventually allow them to be comfortable enough to ask their own questions. Then anyone who needs additional support or a more traditional instructional lesson can stay on while the teacher works with them. This approach allows students to take control of their education, and teaches them that discussion and understanding is more important than if what they say is right or wrong. Many students are afraid of saying something “wrong" and don’t get the support they need because of it. Our approach aims to teach students that all questions are good questions if it helps lead you to deeper understanding.

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