In 2021 we launched our new comprehensive ELA program, Wit and Wisdom. By providing a framework for inquiry, Wit & Wisdom helps students build rich layers of knowledge. It inspires teachers and students to experience complex texts and ideas on a deeper level by fostering the questioning spirit that will shape the next generation of great writers, thinkers, and leaders. In addition, the district has been assessing students in the area of reading using the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Literacy Skills Next (DIBELS Next), as well as with Fastbridge Learning Assessments. These brief assessments are given minimally three times per year and provide important information for teachers about each student’s progress in the components of reading.
ELA “Team Time,” a common block of time for teaching reading at each grade level, enables teachers to differentiate instruction by sharing staff and designing instruction that is individualized. The core reading program is offered to all students in classrooms with whole-group and station instruction. Reading in the content areas of science and social studies is emphasized at all grade levels.
Additional reading instruction is organized in a Response to Intervention (RtI) model based upon student’s needs and interests. Students receive additional instruction in small groups, designed to improve or extend student fluency and comprehension. RtI reading support includes small group activities in and out of the classroom setting and may involve instruction from Title I staff, our Reading Specialists, or other school specialist teachers (art, music, library, technology). Computer technology enhances this aspect of our reading curriculum. Programs such as Lexia, IXL, or Raz Kids can be prescribed for individuals or groups of students. Computers are carefully supervised and maintained by the classroom teacher to assess student progress.
Teachers meet regularly at each grade level to examine assessment data and share strategies and materials to reach all learners. Teachers also participate in on-going professional development to learn about new approaches for teaching students to read. The ultimate goal is to have ALL students reading at or above grade level by the end of Grade 3.
Our children love to read. It is not uncommon to see our upper grade students in primary classrooms with their “reading buddies” sharing a good book and a light moment.
Williamstown Elementary School provides a broad-based math program for children. Using the Everyday Math program for grades K-6 allows teachers to provide continuity of instruction from grade to grade. The program provides embedded assessments that allow teachers to monitor student growth in math skills and provide for individual differences.
In grades 5-6 teachers differentiate instruction by teaching math at the same time each day and grouping students according to current skill level and fluency. This common block of time enables teachers to provide for individual differences by sharing staff and students. In grade 4 students are assessed at each unit interval, allowing teachers to design instruction based upon student’s strengths. This flexibility allows children to progress at their own rate and experience a challenging math curriculum.
Computer technology enhances our math instruction, enabling a child’s math program to be further individualized. Programs such as IXL, Reflex, and Frax are used to monitor student progress in math facts and concepts, as well as to challenge students beyond the regular curriculum.
Williamstown Elementary School celebrates this country’s diversity through our social studies curriculum. From learning about families in the primary grades, to world cultures in the 6th, our students develop an appreciation and sensitivity to the world around them. Key concepts of citizenship and civility are taught school-wide.
Williamstown Elementary School is fortunate to partner with Williams College to enhance our science curriculum. Through the “Williams College Science Initiative” our school has an equipped Science Lab and support for our science curriculum through a science coordinator and a paraprofessional to maintain the lab.
We have spent the past few years transitioning to a new K-6 science curriculum aligned with the Massachusetts Next Generation Science Standards. K-5 is using Mystery Science as a complement to the curriculum. Each lesson contains a central mystery, discussion questions, supplemental reading, and a hands-on activity. The 6th grade is using Discovery Education's Techbooks to support the new curriculum.
All students at Williamstown Elementary attend specialist classes taught by highly qualified elementary educators certified in their specialties. Children participate in once- weekly art, library, social-emotional learning (SEL), and vocal music classes, as well as twice-weekly physical education classes. Children in grades 3-6 may also choose to participate in instrumental music.
Music: Weekly vocal music classes expose children to elements of rhythm and song with a strong emphasis on confidence, poise and performance.
WES offers instrumental lessons and ensemble experiences for children in grades 3-6. Beginning in third grade, students are able to begin to learn a stringed instrument. In fourth grade, children may choose to play band instruments. All our ensembles--the orchestra, fourth grade band, fifth grade band, and sixth grade band--perform several concerts for the community each year.
Art: In addition to the extensive community arts experiences described in About Us, students at WES experience a rich in-house art program that enables them to work with various media through the grades. Instruction includes art history as well as artwork projects and production. An all-school Art Show is held in June.