Whitesides Elementary School is providing all students with rich, rigorous opportunities to develop world class skills of the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate, which are creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.
All teachers create lessons based on the South Carolina Standards and include many opportunities for students to collaborate and create meaningful connections through instruction. Although COVID has hindered some of this effort, the teachers have found ways to continue to help students understand and use the world class skills necessary to succeed and be college and career ready. In addition, with the continuation of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) initiatives at Whitesides, students are engaged in learning activities that incorporate elements of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math that allow for collaboration with other students. Through these collaborative projects, students are able to demonstrate effective communication skills as they work together to solve problems and make revisions for successful outcomes. STEAM activities promote critical thinking and creativity for all students, allowing for trial and error learning. They also enhance skill development in learning self-regulation and managing how to learn.
In addition to weekly participation in our STEAM lab for students in Child Development through 5th grade, a partnership with ECM (Engaging Creative Minds) brings opportunities from the outside world to our classrooms for innovation and creative expression in grades 3-5. Our students look forward to continuing the traditions of classroom partnering each year with activities such as reading buddies, STEAM projects, Peer Buddies with our Special Needs students, and working in the garden. These partnerships allow for much communication, collaboration, and critical thinking as the older students act as mentors for the younger students.
Book clubs, participating in reading competitions, Career Week, College Dress up Days, Bulletin Boards with colleges that the staff attended, creating the weekly news show and daily announcements, community outreach programs, field trips (although somewhat limited this year) as well as author visits help students develop skills in working together as a team, presentation skills, and communication skills. In addition, it helps to expose students to the careers that are available to them and the skills needed for those jobs. These activities and lessons also helped to increase the love of reading and the importance of reading for information as well as for pleasure. With teachers providing small group instruction in classrooms and our interventionists providing intensive reading intervention to students, we were able to increase their reading levels and skills.
Monthly School-wide Guidance programs focused on the College and Career Readiness skills as well as working to meet the needs of students’ social and emotional needs. These programs helped to create continuity and consistency across all grade levels as students work together to keep our school bully-free and to appropriately resolve peer conflicts. In recognizing the added social and emotional needs of our students due to the pandemic this year, we increased our small group Guidance lessons to focus on self-care and managing anxiety. Our focus continues to be the implementation of programs and strategies that help develop academic, social, and emotional growth in all of our students.
Catherine MIddleton, Principal
Jennifer Traywick, SIC Chair