The Field School Program
The Field School curriculum is a traditional, academically rigorous series of courses in English, social studies, math, science, Latin, and the arts, along with instruction in personal and group skills, and moral development. Our school consciously attends to the whole—the academic, social, physical, creative, ethical, and personal development of each of its boys.
Each of the five major disciplines (History, English, math, science, and foreign language) is taught for 200 minutes weekly by one full-time faculty member, teaching the same subject for all four grades, with attention to both skill development and fundamental information and ideas—a core body of knowledge shared throughout our school. Each course has its own set of goals, essential questions, units, evaluation methods, resources, skills, and anticipated outcomes. The arts curriculum is taught primarily by a full-time faculty member, but supplemented by part-time faculty proficient in particular fields of art and music. The responsibilities for other areas in the curriculum, including study skills, team sports, reading, and life and leadership skills are shared by the full-time faculty.
As a small school, we have the unique opportunity to collaborate closely across our entire curriculum. Each year is characterized by a series of school-wide four- to six-week units that appeal to our students. These represent opportunities to tie together concepts from our various disciplines and often culminate in local or regional field trips (hence, the name). Tentative examples, many reflecting our first-year “pioneers” theme, include Thomas Jefferson, the James River, aviation, Jazz, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Monocans, and the Chesapeake Bay. Field trips will be a regular feature of our curriculum, occurring as often as every other week.
|5th Grade||6th Grade||7th Grade||8th Grade|
|Mathematics||Mathematics||Pre-Algebra Or Algebra I||Algebra I Or Geometry I|
|Intro to Latin||Latin I||Spanish I||Spanish II|
|Team Sports||Team Sports||Team Sports||Team Sports|
|Leadership Skills||Leadership Skills||Leadership Skills||Leadership Skills|
|Study Skills||Study Skills||Study Skills||Study Skills|
|Work Program||Work Program||Work Program||Work Program|
The daily math program emphasizes the development of fundamental math skills, with regular homework to reinforce these skills so that they become second nature for our students. Later years introduce elements of geometry, pre-algebra and algebra and these disciplines’ more challenging abstract ideas. The concepts we cover include addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, place number, percents, measurement, statistics and probability, number theory, ratios, equations, graphing, elementary geometry, linear equations, word problems, graphing, factors, radicals and exponents. A more accelerated math track begins in the 7th Grade with Algebra I leading to Geometry I in 8th Grade.
Daily English instruction consists of writing, vocabulary, and language skills and development. Topics include punctuation, sentences, paragraphs, word choice, outlining subject-verb-complement, parts of speech, phrases, clauses, case and agreement and types of writing. Writing assignments are made on a regular basis, with increasing sophistication in expression and varieties of form. Our goal is to develop students who express ideas clearly both orally and in a variety of written forms.
Reading time is set aside 1-2 days each week in order to help children develop comprehension and analysis skills, to grasp knowledge of vocabulary, facts and ideas, and to appreciate many examples of good writing, in both fiction and non-fiction. Teachers take a mixed approach, reading aloud themselves, having students take turns, or silent reading, with follow-up discussions of important elements of or themes in the literature of commonly read books. We read approximately ten common novels as well as selected short stories, essays and poetry during the year, with many chosen in conjunction with the topics being taught in American History, World Cultures or science.
Our daily science program has an integrated approach with attention to earth, natural and physical sciences, developing a growing understanding of the inter-related character of the sciences through these years. The grade-level courses require students to learn fundamental science information with increasing development of the comprehension of scientific processes and principles, including the scientific method. These courses include a hands-on lab component designed to inspire an intimate appreciation for scientific phenomena and the process of scientific inquiry. Though our general approach to teaching about technology is by integrating it into the curriculum, the final two years of science are dedicated to substantial integration of technology in homework, class projects, and presentations. We also design units to be taught in conjunction with History and English whenever appropriate. Science topics include scientific method, lab reports, important scientists, physical science (density, light, convection, color, force and pressure, matter, energy and its forms, simple machines, robotics, atomic theory, periodic table, and design), earth science (plate tectonics, prehistoric life, minerals and rocks, the atmosphere, climate and meteorology, Earth’s heat budget, ecology, and global warming) and life science (human systems including sensory, muscular, skeletal, digestive, nervous, respiratory, and endocrine, cell and cell functions, scientific notation, photosynthesis, and basic chemistry).
History courses include learning important periods, individuals, facts, and episodes, with an increasing level of comprehension and analysis of history and social sciences through the four years of Middle School. The daily curriculum includes study in geography, politics, economics, regions, culture and history, with particular attention to American History and the current and historical World Cultures of Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the pre-encounter Americas, with particular attention to our own area and region. Evaluation methods include discussion participation, regular writing assignments, projects, and tests.
Latin provides the foundation for the further development of Western languages as well as abundant learning in various ancient disciplines in later years, including science, math, law and history. The boys develop their decoding, listening, speaking, and writing skills, as well as a developing understanding of the history and use of the language.
The arts program includes exposure to a wide variety of forms of artistic expression and hands-on or active practice, including fine art, crafts, music and drama. All these classes are taught in seasonal blocks, varying in their length depending on the field. Topics include drawing, printing, printmaking, painting, sculpture, ceramics, art history, music theory, music listening, harmony, melody, rhythm, reading and writing music, and singing.
Because we believe in physical fitness and in developing the values of teamwork, fair play, and accomplishment, we require all students to participate in team sports. We will offer touch football, soccer, cross-country, basketball, baseball, and lacrosse programs, encouraging the younger boys to learn about all these games, but with increasing opportunities to specialize with each year. We value participation (everyone plays), with some increased appreciation for and attention to accomplishment in these sports each year. We schedule games both within the school and with other teams in Charlottesville, Richmond and Washington, D.C.
Leadership skills are taught by the school’s director, both through our daily meetings and in occasional class meetings, as well by each teacher in the school as a part of their academic and advising programs. Leadership skills include self-awareness, personal decision-making, communication, public speaking, and, most importantly, ethics. The personal decision making component includes topics such as goal setting, time management, feedback, stress, mental health, tobacco, drugs and alcohol, steroids, sex, refusal skills, masculinity, suicide, and the modern media. The ethics component is taught sometimes in classroom settings, but also regularly through our modeling and actions. The values we emphasize include honesty, respect, trustworthiness, teamwork, sociability, compassion, courage, fairness, industriousness, responsibility, acceptance, and intellectual curiosity. We insist on students’ developing social habits that reflect thoughtful, ethical behavior at Field School.
Prior to sports, each day concludes with a 40-minute study skills period or study hall. The former is designed to teach and reinforce skills in organization, note-taking, listening skills, time management, research, learning styles, class preparation, studying for tests and exams, and maintaining Field School assignment books (a school requirement). Study halls are quiet periods during which students can begin work on assignments or seek out extra help from their teachers (who are always available at this time). Students can expect to have an average of 1 hour of homework each night, half of which should typically be completed in study hall. Field School’s small teaching staff is sensitive to maintaining a stable level of homework for each evening by giving careful attention to and distributing paper and test assignments on the calendar.
Because there is no better way to teach responsibility than by giving it to students and making them accountable, Field School students are required to participate in a work program. All students have weekly chores, with specific times during the academic days to complete their work.