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Lower School

Lawrence Lower School serves students in grades K-6. Our specialized curriculum, combined with small classes and multi-sensory teaching techniques, guides students towards academic and life-long success.

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At a glance, Lawrence School looks a lot like other schools, and some traditional approaches to learning and assessment are an important part of the daily routine. In the Lower School, material is mastered through recitation, practice, and activity-based, hands-on learning. At the same time, however, through very non-traditional, “metacognitive” approaches, students are taught to understand and appreciate how they learn, assemble, and employ the tools they need to bridge gaps between their potential and their skills.

Our goal is to help each Lawrence student achieve:

  • Mastery in all academic areas
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking proficiency
  • Creativity and healthy self-expression
  • Self-esteem, contentment and pride in oneself
  • Friendship/social skills and respect for others
  • Leadership and teamwork ability
  • Desire and appreciation for learning that will last a lifetime

Measuring Success

For those who learn differently, one-size-fits-all tests and assignments rarely demonstrate what a student truly knows. At Lawrence, students are encouraged to demonstrate their knowledge in many ways – writing, oral recitation, hands-on approaches, etc.

The overall success of their development is then best measured through frequent, standardized assessments combined with observational measurements. At the Lower School, although students do not receive letter grades, student progress is measured and communicated to parents on a daily, weekly, and annual basis:

Our Program

In the Lower School, students are grouped with the goal of matching individual learning needs with the instruction content. Course material is mastered in a phased process — introduction, practice, review and application. The mastered material then becomes a foundation for future learning.

In each class, teachers help students focus by circulating through the room, using direct instruction methods, encouraging interaction among students, and strategically pacing lesson content and activities.

In the subjects of math, reading, and writing, students are ability-grouped and progress is monitored on an ongoing basis. Class groupings can change as students either advance in ability, or require extra support or remediation. In science and social studies, students are grouped according to grade level, allowing students to be exposed to the State of Ohio standards while maintaining a continued emphasis on mastery of the material.

Students also participate in "specials" each week, consisting of physical education, music, library, computer skills and art. Overall student progress is monitored weekly and parents remain well-informed about their child's progress.

The CodeBreakers curriculum, developed in 1995 by Lawrence School faculty, is a sequential, multi-sensory approach to reading. It teaches those reading/spelling skills that everyone needs to know, in a step-by-step controlled process.

Each concept builds upon another. Phonetic segmentation is stressed throughout each lesson giving students exposure to a “part to whole” strategy. Using the curriculum, teachers are able to take students through all the speech sounds and syllable types one by one.

The goal of the CodeBreakers curriculum is to get away from the guessing game.

All the readings are controlled so that students who have struggled through the process of learning to read and or spell begin to have a structured, understanding of the English language. Words are taught individually, in sentences and in paragraphs so that students understand their meaning.

Parents are an essential part of the learning process at Lawrence. In addition to regular parent-teacher conferences and grade reports, parents are contacted regularly via phone or email to discuss their child’s progress.

Parents are treated as team members in education, uniquely positioned to help assess our success in making true, substantive changes in their children’s lives.

Additionally, because Lawrence parents all share a unique experience, we have in place a very thoughtful and active Parents’ Pride organization. When a child first enrolls at Lawrence, the new family is assigned a “Parents Pride Mentor” to help guide them, answer questions, and serve as a resource and support.

Also, under the Parents Pride organization, parents have the ability to help plan and host family social events, organize parent-education opportunities, and assist with the annual Benefit Auction.

In the Lower School, students do not receive letter grades for assignments, tests, or on report cards.

Because they have such diverse learning needs and styles, it is not possible to use a standardized letter-grade system to evaluate each student on an even playing field. Rather, teachers monitor student progress weekly using standardized measures of oral reading fluency, math facts, and written expression.

The results are discussed with students, graphed and made available to parents quarterly. The combination of teacher observations, performance on daily class work, and standardized assessments offers parents and children a 360-degree perspective from which to evaluate a child’s progress and growth.

Our careful approach to gathering data provides opportunities for teachers to adjust their teaching strategies, integrate support, and otherwise personalize the delivery of curriculum.

Homework is a frightening word for students who have traditionally struggled with learning. But when homework can be successfully completed, it promotes responsibility and a healthy home-school connection.

All homework at Lawrence consists of mastered material, and students should be able to complete this material within an hour, with no assistance.

Student Assignment notebooks help students organize classroom and homework assignments. By tracking the status of each student’s homework, teachers are better able to cater teaching to each individual’s unique learning needs.

The low student-to-teacher ratio ensures that each student is given the attention and instruction needed to meet his/her unique learning needs.

School is a place of learning for all who call Lawrence home. That is why our staff regularly meet as a professional learning community to discuss and develop current and new strategies for teaching and interacting within the classroom.

Teachers work closely with each student to understand their learning style and adapt assignments and projects to complement that student’s individual strengths. Perhaps most importantly, the student-teacher relationship — one of support, encouragement, and adaptability in learning — fosters feelings of success and confidence to approach learning challenges head-on.

All Lawrence teachers are state-certified educators, and receive ongoing professional development training in the specific instructional methods used at Lawrence School.