Our district's focus of “providing opportunities for everyone to learn, grow and reach their greatness” is a companion to the Waldorf objective of “…preparing children for meaningful lives in the broadest sense” (Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education/SCOPE). Waldorf schools “focus beyond providing students with specific knowledge and skills to prepare them for college and career, to also preparing children for meaningful lives by developing them physically, socially, artistically, and cognitively for meaningful engagement with the world” (SCOPE).
In the development of the Common Core Standards, SCUSD’s school board approved the reallocation of each standard into specific grade levels that support our view of appropriate childhood development. Although all Common Core Standards at A.M. Winn are taught by grade 8, they are sorted into different grade levels to coincide with Waldorf blocks of study. The teacher provides group and individual assessments, as well as formative and summative assessments are done in portfolio format. SCUSD Waldorf teachers complete an additional 1000 hours of training beyond their accreditation to learn how to properly assess and observe the needs of students. The Waldorf curriculum is a living and breathing model that can be differentiated to meet the needs of students and calls upon multiple modalities for instruction so that all types of learners can be successful.
In the lower classes, students develop oral language by repeating and memorizing poems and stories rich in vocabulary. Students integrate advanced language in songs, puppet plays, role-play and group recitation. In Kindergarten, students experience cumulative stories to increase listening skills and comprehension. Oral language is also advanced during handwork and other practical work when multiple instructions are given and practiced by students.
In all grades, thematic instruction (main lesson subjects) helps students focus on and connect various skills to a central theme. Listening, speaking, writing and reading are all developed in the course of a balanced main lesson.
Shared reading occurs daily in Kindergarten through Second Grade, while small-group or independent reading occurs daily in Grades 2 and 3. Pleasure reading is strongly encouraged. Comprehension is assessed by retelling, drawing, sculpting, performance and additional means of sharing content of the reading.
Waldorf teachers use images and feeling in the stories shared with students. Teachers and students may dramatize stories to add additional interest and context. All content is retold by students, or expressed by students in an artistic way (clay, beeswax, painting and drawing). Content is delivered in a three-day rhythm to ensure enough repetition of new vocabulary and concepts.
Reading comprehension is evaluated by using study questions, summaries, class discussions, artistic representation, dramatization and group presentations.
Student writing is frequent and usually edited for a final copy by the teacher. They sometimes experience peer editing, story sharing and other elements of the writing process. They read pieces to each other to gain a better understanding of grammar, voice and structure. Grammar and conventions are taught constantly in the context of the main lesson writing or in response to literature.