Welcome to the River Room

Fifth and Sixth Grades - to honor their growing interdependence, independence, and swift movement into their larger community.  The intention is to move into learning with power and peace and to discover the many ways to have an impact on their world.

The River Room is a multi-age group of students who spend their days delving deep into studies in a learning environment that reinforces a sense of place within their social group. These fifth and sixth grade students model leadership roles in play and academic activities.
Students enter the class each morning and spend time socializing with their peers, playing games, and completing small academic math or literacy components known as “Morning Work.”

Everyone in the class gathers at circle carpet for Morning Meeting at the beginning of each school day where we greet one another, have time for sharing, complete a group activity, and discuss the morning message/daily agenda.

Our morning academic time is spent focusing on literacy, grammar, and math. Students in the River Room are taught individually or in a small group setting to ensure each child is moving at his or her own academic pace.  Short, playful, whole-group activities are used as breaks in between lessons. One of students’ favorite time of day is known as, “Chill Zone.” This quiet time happens after recess and lunch: the lights are dimmed and students are read an age-appropriate novel. This unique portion of our day, though only twenty minutes, lends to a deepening of reading comprehension skills and prediction making, as students are engaged, asking questions, and understanding the various components of a story.

Additionally, our days are intermixed with a blend of “Specials” and our Science and Social Studies curriculum, which follows the Core Knowledge guidelines. “Specials” include art, music, physical education, foreign language and theater.

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Meet the teachers

Patrick Calvert
Lead Teacher

Zella Miller

Patrick Calvert

Master in Education, Lamar University
B.A. Communications, Villanova University

BOUT The Teacher
Patrick has been teaching inside and outside of the classroom for more than ten years. He has experience working with students of all ages, but most recently he has been teaching math and science to middle school aged children in an experiential, project-based, and inquiry led school setting. Patrick is highly empathetic and has excellent interpersonal and communication skills. As a lifelong student of nature who is passionate in all forms of experiential education, Patrick ensures our River Room is a balanced blend of rigorous academics and hands-on learning both inside and outside of the actual classroom.  

Patrick is an educator who facilitates a supportive and empowering educational experience that enriches the lives of our community's children and their families. We are thrilled to have him as a lead teacher of our oldest students.

The River Room is a safe place where students work together to celebrate successes and discuss their challenges as they build each other up through positive affirmations and relationships. We give students ownership of their education by having them set their own educational goals, tracking their progress with them, and giving them autonomy over how they learn in the classroom.

With Responsive Classroom guiding our classroom community, learning is guided by set curriculum and further developed through student-led questions, Project-Based Learning, partner and small group work, and movement. To support learning and provide  diverse experiences, there are moments of independent discovery and quiet time. Although our days are full of rich student engagement, there is a regular daily schedule of routines to ensure a successful classroom community.

The educator must take into consideration the academic, social, and emotional levels of a student
in order to educate the whole child

Creating the Culture
of the Classroom

Over the first six weeks, the primary focus of all GCS classrooms is to set up the structures and behavioral atmosphere needed to create the ideal learning environment for all students. Students co-create this environment so that they feel safe to voice their concerns and needs, clear in their understanding of behavioral and academic expectations and inspired to learn and grow as a valued member of a real community. Click on the links below on the right for details.

Click on links below for details

Daily agenda Introduced
Every classroom has a daily agenda and the day begins and ends with a morning circle to discuss the the goals for the day and what may have been missed at the end of the day so students are aware of what adjustments will be made for the agenda on the following day.
Classroom Structure Development
Students make lists of what will make the class work smoothly. Procedures are set for how students operate in the classrooms, how they transition from activities, how materials are used and put away, and how they will take responsibility in the classroom for their behavior for their needs.
Social Behavioral Constructs
Procedures for how teachers respond to breakdowns with students, and how peers respond to each other if there is a conflict are developed. Teachers model behavioral responses for students to emulate, which helps to set the tone for a harmonious classroom environment.
Building Trusting Community
Teachers connect with students on a human level to create relationships as caring community members not authoritarian teacher/student roles. Strategies such as being at the door in the morning, saying good morning, showing empathy with separation from parents or emotional concerns of students may have.
Class Promise
A behavioral contract for the rules that govern the class is co-created by students and facilitated by the teacher. All students sign or add hand prints to validate the contract. The contract may get read daily and students are reminded that failure is ok and the class promise is in place for students to realign with if a breakdown occurs. Teachers post the promise in a visibly prominent place in the classroom for students to refer to often.