Teaching

Our passionate, highly educated, and experienced teaching staff differentiates instruction within each classroom, seeking to reach each child at the level they need to be successful. This involves teaching lessons both to the entire class, as well as in small reading and literacy groups. Teachers also employ team-teaching methods and grade-level collaboration in order to reach each child at her or his own achievement level.

Academic Support

Thousand Oaks’ bilingual Reading Specialists work individually and with small groups to give literacy learning support to children who need it. The resource staff provides additional individual and small group support during the school day to help children reach the next level of achievement. These activities are supplemented by small, teacher-led work groups after school.

Curriculum

The State of California has one of the highest academic achievement standards in the U.S., and Thousand Oaks Elementary School’s curriculum, as part of the Berkeley Unified School District, adheres to those high standards. Click here for detailed information on the state standards.

T.O.’s curriculum integrates academic programs that have been selected by BUSD based on researched, proven effectiveness:

English Language Arts (Reading and Writing)

Since September 2010, Berkeley Public Schools elementary classrooms began incorporating Readers’ Workshop as the focal point of the literacy program. The model comes out of the Teachers’ College of Columbia University, and has had great results in narrowing the achievement gap with schools in New York who are part of their project.  Instead of a textbook and ditto sheets, the Readers’ Workshop cornerstone is a huge classroom library with interesting books spanning the reading levels of the students. Students will be spending more time reading, and writing and talking about what they read. Small group reading with the teacher will continue within the context of Readers’ Workshop. Teachers will be receiving several hundreds of dollars worth of books for their libraries.

Writing: Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study Writers’ Workshop (Columbia University Teachers College)

English Language Development (ELD)

English Language Development (ELD) is a state-mandated program for improving the English skills of all students, especially those who are learning English as a second language. A strong ELD program empowers students by helping them to communicate in English more effectively in both written and oral forms, as well as improving their comprehension and listening abilities.

For more information, click here.

Science

Science is taught by a classroom teacher in grades K3, while our fourth and fifth graders receive science instruction from a science specialist. The curriculum is based on FOSS/Full Option Science System developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science.

The Thousand Oaks annual Science Fair supports our science curriculum. This annual, noncompetitive
event relies on parent volunteers to help organize and run it. For details on the upcoming fair, please visit the Science Fair Page.

Positive Behavior Support

In order to have a safe and orderly environment, Thousand Oaks uses an integrated curriculum designed to:

• Provide appropriate structure and boundaries for students
• Nurture empathy and problem-solving skills
• Instill a strong anti-violence/anti-bullying environment at Thousand Oaks.

Positive Behavior Support, also known as PBS, serves as a broad framework for teaching school-widerules and expectations for how students should behave in all common areas—based on the “3 Bs:”Be Safe, Be Respectful, and Be Responsible. A key component of this approach is that behavioral expectations are explicitly taught to students, and reinforced throughout the school year. All students are expected to follow the main rules: Good behavior is recognized and celebrated by teachers and administrators through “Golden Leaf Awards,” which are presented to students observed making good decisions and following the rules.

The structure provided by through Positive Behavior Support is complemented by the Second Step Violence Prevention curriculum, which focuses on teaching students empathy and problem-solving skills. Second Step helps students talk about their feelings related to common problem issues, such as bullying and other conflicts, by giving them a shared language and a safe place to discuss their concerns.

In addition, Thousand Oaks has begun using the Welcoming Schools curriculum, which focuses on teaching family diversity and anti-bullying behavior.

Together, these integrated curricula represent a proactive approach to ensuring a safe learning environment for all students by providing appropriate support and guidance to help children be successful.

Homework Policy

In the spring of 2016 our staff began a process of surveying families about your experiences with homework, and reflecting on our own experiences as educators and parents with homework for young children. After serious deliberation, we have decided to revise our homework practices this year, changing our homework priorities to focus on READING and HOME-SCHOOL CONNECTIONS.  This is what you can expect this year in terms of homework:

READING: We expect every child to read or be read to for 20-40 minutes daily.  The amount of reading time expected will vary by grade level, and your child’s teacher will let you know what they expect and how your child will keep track of their at-home reading time.  Reading with your child, and developing a culture of reading in your family, is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your child’s success in school.  This is the YEAR OF THE READER in Berkeley Unified!

OTHER HOMEWORK: Teachers may be occasionally assigning additional homework with the goal of strengthening the connection between home and school.  This may include sending home a math game for you to play together as a family, asking your child to interview a family member for a school project, asking your child to explain something they’ve been learning in class to family members, or you and your child working together to find family artifacts to share with the class.  Please stay in communication with your child’s teacher if these assignments become too burdensome for your family, so that adjustments can be made.

We will not be requiring students to complete the Math Homework worksheets that are part of our math curriculum.  Teachers may send them home, or parents may request them, as optional additional work that you may choose to do with your child, but we do not expect these worksheets to be returned to the teacher.

With less homework this year, we hope that your child will have more family time, engage in creative unstructured play, and get to bed early. We will also be working with We Rock and BAHIA staff to provide enriching educational experiences after school and academic supports for children who need them, in lieu of traditional homework completion time.

If you’d like to learn more about the research on homework, here are some articles you might find interesting:

“The Case For and Against Homework,” a balanced review of the research on both sides of the debate

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar07/vol64/num06/The-Case-For-and-Against-Homework.aspx

“Research Trends: Why Homework Should Be Balanced,” another even-handed exploration of the topic that ends with this question: “How can we transform homework so that it’s engaging, relevant, and supports learning?”

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/research-trends-is-homework-effective-youki-terada

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