Teaching and Learning, Curriculum and Standards
Mill Valley teachers use various curricular materials to support students in meeting state standards.
Highlights of our Reading Program
TK-5 teachers have been trained in the Science of Reading, and are moving towards full implementation of using a structured literacy approach in all classrooms.
Structured Literacy is a highly explicit and systematic teaching approach based on the Science of Reading, and all five pillars of literacy – plus language comprehension, spelling, and writing. Structured Literacy supports explicit, sequential, systematic, prescriptive, diagnostic, and cumulative instruction. The Science of Reading identifies five essential components of the Simple View of Reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Structured Literacy incorporates all five. Lastly, teachers encourage students’ love of reading by making reading meaningful and fun.
TK-5 teachers are engaging in a curriculum pilot process. Our goal is to adopt and fully implement a Structured Literacy ELA curriculum in the Fall of 2024.
Highlights of our Writing Program
Students learn both the conventions and craft of writing through meaningful and relevant writing projects.
Children are encouraged to write for many different purposes and in a variety of genres: stories, memoirs, poetry, essays, research projects, etc.
Teachers use strategies such as mini-lessons, shared writing, mentor pieces, guided writing, independent writing with conferring, author studies, and genre studies.
Highlights of our Mathematics Program
The Mill Valley School District’s elementary Math Committee has created the following vision:
MVSD students will:
experience excitement, joy, and confidence about math,
be predictably prepared for the next year of instruction,
have similar access to content and common learning outcomes,
and demonstrate a deep understanding of math concepts, reasoning skills, and flexible application of learned concepts and skills.
As a result of their instructional experience, students will demonstrate high levels of proficiency in common formative assessments and nationally normed summative assessments.
Staff is actively participating in professional development to reach the outcomes of this vision, and are aligning their teaching and learning practices as such.
Highlights of our Science Program
Teachers focus on the cycle of inquiry and the scientific method to help children to understand and apply scientific concepts and skills.
Teachers use FOSS Kits developed by Lawrence Hall of Science, U.C. Berkeley, to bring hands-on units of study to the classroom.
Teachers and students utilize our school garden as a real-life laboratory.
Primary students receive additional instruction from Science teacher Susan Beuhler.
Highlights of our Social Studies Program
Teachers use project-based learning to engage and motivate students.
Concepts in history are grounded in and connected to students’ current experiences.
Reading and Writing are integrated throughout the Social Studies Program.
Students attend various field trips in the area.
Highlights of our Technology Program
Teachers use a variety of technology programs and tools to enhance the curriculum.
Each teacher has a laptop for planning, teaching lessons, assessing, and communicating with parents.
There are currently three mobile laptop carts and three iPad carts, as well as other iPads
available in classrooms. Teachers can check these carts out and provide their classes with laptops for research and projects.
Our Librarian integrates the use of technology, creating a robust Library/Media program.
Highlights of our Physical Education Program
The P.E. program’s long-term goal is to instill in every student a lifelong joy of physical activity.
Character education and team building are interrelated and taught year-round.
The Curriculum is based on State Physical Education Standards and includes both team sports and non-traditional topics, such as dance and orienteering.
First through Fifth-grade students receive 30 minutes of P.E. each day.
Assessment and Evaluation
Assessment and evaluation are integral parts of the teaching and learning cycle. Teachers use a variety of assessments to identify students’ needs as learners. We view assessment as a tool for understanding the learner and informing instruction. There are four different types of assessments used throughout the school year to gather information about our students’ progress.
Classroom-based Assessments: Teachers utilize assessments on an ongoing basis to ensure that students are learning. They also use the data from assessments to plan future lessons. The teachers themselves often design these assessments.
District-wide Assessments: Nationally recognized reading assessments are given to all kindergarten through 3rd-grade students across the district at specific times of the year. The purpose of these assessments is to provide our teachers with the opportunity to review assessment results with colleagues from other schools and share ideas.
In addition, school-wide (K-5) writing assessments are administered each spring.
California State Standardized Test (CST) – PART OF STAR TESTING
The CST is a standardized test given in the spring of each year to all students in grades two through twelve. The results from this test provide our district with a broad understanding of how students are doing overall. It also provides a way to identify those students who are not achieving proficiency on these tests so that schools can address these students’ needs. It is not the type of assessment that provides teachers with specific information about each child’s learning.
Conferences and Report Cards
Regular communication between teachers and parents is important to the academic and social development of each child. For first through fifth-grade students, the school year is divided into trimesters and a progress report is given at the end of each trimester. At the beginning of November, parents are invited to a parent-teacher conference to discuss their child’s progress during the first trimester and to receive the child’s first progress report. Kindergarten conferences are held in October and a progress report is sent home at the end of the school year.
Student Support Programs
Our goal as educators is to ensure that all students are learning. In the event that a child is not meeting academic standards, there is a pyramid of support that we have in place that provides both teachers and parents with strategies and a plan for how to support a particular child. The first level of support takes place in the regular classroom where the teacher differentiates the instruction and activities for students to meet their individual needs. However, sometimes a teacher's attempts to intervene and support may not be enough.
Student Study Team (SST)
A Student Study Team (SST) is comprised of the classroom teacher, the parents, the principal, the Special Education teachers, the School Psychologist, the School Counselor, and the Reading and Math Program Teacher (when applicable). The team works collaboratively to understand the child’s strengths and areas of need and then to create a plan of action.
In some cases, the student is referred to our RAMP (Reading and Math Support Program) for a period of focused and targeted instruction. If, after the classroom support and the RAMP support, the child continues to not meet standards, an evaluation by the Resource Teacher and school psychologist may be deemed appropriate by the SST team.
If the child qualifies for Special Education under federal and state guidelines, the child may be eligible for one or more services, such as our Resource Program, Speech, and Language Therapy, or Occupational Therapy. If the child does not qualify for these programs, the SST team develops an alternate intervention plan.