Murch’s instructional programs and child-centered learning environment focus on the whole child, appeal to the learning styles of a wide variety of students, and make the most of the diverse array of skills and abilities exhibited by all of the children within the Murch community. Using a blend of traditional and innovative educational techniques, Murch develops strong academic skills, promotes civic responsibilities, and fosters confidence within each child. The school’s highly regarded academic program is based on national and DCPS standards.
Reading & Writing
Reading and writing are fundamental at Murch! Teachers use a variety of research-based best practices to ensure that students are equipped with the appropriate skills to comprehend and read independently. Some of these practices include; guided reading groups, close reading, explicit instruction, reading for a purpose and scaffolding the National Common Core Standards. To ensure that the academic needs of all students are met, we pride ourselves on incorporating differentiated small groups in the classroom, so that every child can access the curriculum on their reading level. Reading resources include; The Comprehension Toolkit, Fountas and Pinnell (reading assessment), Fundations, Scholastic resources for guided reading and most importantly, the DCPS Scope and Sequence, which provides detailed units with specific standards for teacher instruction. Teachers collaborate and plan as grade level teams to ensure that grade level standards are mastered, however, we pride ourselves on the innovation and creativity that our staff provide to students to ensure that engaging and stimulating lessons occur!
We have great authors at Murch and that is due to the writer’s workshop model! The workshop model includes mini lessons, genre study and shared, guided, and independent writing. Writer’s Workshop is designed to teach our students the craft of writing in various genres: personal narrative, essays, fiction, and poetry, across all grade levels beginning in kindergarten.
Murch believes in preparing students for academic success starting in our pre-kindergarten program. Murch teachers are focused on the developmental and academic needs of students, therefore, you will see a variety of research-based instructional practices for mathematics. This year Murch is a part of the DCPS Mathematics focus, which includes, specialized professional development in mathematics that shifts the traditional mathematical model of “show” and practice to math inquiry. Math inquiry at Murch will raise the expectations of students and increase the rigor within the classroom. According to May E. Lee of Salisbury University,
“Inquiry-based learning (IBL) is a method of instruction that places the student, the subject, and their interaction at the center of the learning experience. At the same time, it transforms the role of the teacher from that of dispensing knowledge to one of facilitating learning. It repositions him or her, physically, from the front and center of the classroom to someplace in the middle or back of it, as it subtly yet significantly increases his or her involvement in the thought-processes of the students.”
Math inquiry in a Murch classroom will entail cooperative learning, math centers, student exploration, student explanations with peers, manipulatives and teacher facilitation versus teacher direction. It is in our math classrooms, where we encourage students to think-outside of the box to create meaning. To assist in the facilitation of math inquiry, Murch has two math specialists that are committed to working with students and teachers.
The DCPS science curriculum focuses on hands-on learning, experiments and real world connections. Murch’s science specialist collaborates with teachers to incorporate the Next Generation of Science Standards to enhance our science program. This Framework provides a sound, evidence-based foundation for standards by drawing on current scientific research—including research on the ways students learn science effectively—and identifies the science all K–12 students should know. These standards are embedded in life science, physical science, earth and space science units. A well-equipped science lesson will include FOSS kits among other science materials. FOSS kits are available to teachers for planning and teaching hands-on science investigations.
The social studies program includes instruction in history, geography, economics, and government. The intermediate grades incorporate themed social studies units into the reading/language arts block. In addition to the social studies units, teachers provide real-world experiences through field trips, guest speakers and authentic projects.