Students at a beginning level in reading will not have a separate English class, but will receive written language instruction within the reading classroom. As a student’s reading level improves, his or her schedule expands to include an English class. More skilled readers and students with written language difficulties will be enrolled in both a writing and a grammar class. In addition to writing, composition and grammar, students also receive keyboarding instruction.
Since many students with attention difficulties struggle with getting their thoughts down on paper, Oakland’s small classes and individualized attention provide a nurturing and accepting environment in which students begin to feel comfortable with the process of writing. As one English teacher put it, “Kids who view themselves as poor writers feel like they’re caught in a mudslide. Everything is moving too fast and is out of their control. Oakland’s writing program stops the downward motion so that students can take a realistic look at their own strengths and develop strategies to overcome weaknesses.” Over the years, Oakland students have participated in and won recognition in local, statewide and national writing competitions.
Math classes at Oakland are taught in small groups of six to eight students and range from basic math concept courses to Geometry for those working above grade level. Student schedules include an instructional period at their appropriate level followed by a guided practice period. Lessons follow textbooks written to cover the Virginia Standards of Learning, but are often broken down into smaller, easy-to-follow steps. Teacher-made worksheets help clarify concepts and allow students to be successful. The multisensory approach found throughout the Oakland program is employed in math classes, as well, with students writing on erasable whiteboards, working with manipulatives, reciting mnemonics and playing math games to reinforce concepts. Prompt feedback on written work and class exercises ensures that students know right away that they’re on the right track. Lessons are planned to connect to students’ lives and are personalized whenever possible to make the topics more relevant.