Academic standards in science and social studies in the primary and intermediate grades describe a series of increasingly more sophisticated habits of thinking to prepare students for the specific content from middle school through high school. For example, learning to group and describe animals by simple characteristics such as size and whether meat- or plant-eaters is an early step toward understanding the more complex classification schemes for plants and animals in middle school. Similarly, learning to express what happens at school or at home in stories using words such as past, present, and future is the initial preparation for understanding historical timelines. A beginning lesson in civics —what constitutes good citizenship—can begin with students taking part in constructing the classroom rules as a collaborative group.
Therefore, science and social studies instruction at REACH is integrated across the curriculum, including art and music, and is focused on learning “habits of the mind,” examples of which include but are not limited to: Sorting, ordering, recognizing similarities, differences and patterns, creating visual representations, building systems and structures, recognizing multiple perspectives, using different types of communication appropriately, using evidence to support arguments, etc.
Recognizing the importance of specific STEAM education, REACH utilizes a project-based learning approach every Friday to foster students’ ability to work collaboratively to solve age-appropriate real-world problems. Students use the scientific method to do actual experiments that test hypotheses that they develop collaboratively in teams. Through project based learning, they develop skills in questioning; creating and using models; planning and carrying out investigations; recording data; and communicating results.