A Typical Day at Ararat Charter School
Inspiring Collaboration, Innovation & Empowerment
"Climbing Toward College and Career Readiness"
Campus 1
6555 Sylmar Avenue - Van Nuys, CA 91401
Phone: (818) 994-2904   Fax: (818) 994-8096
Campus 2
13400 Erwin Street - Van Nuys, CA 91401
Phone: (818) 787-8521   Fax: (818) 786-3627
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Upon entering a classroom one witnesses the teacher greeting each and every student while conducting role call. The children are then engaged in calendar activities, the morning message is read and discussed, and there is an opportunity to play with words and sounds through singing, finger plays, and poetry. The students sitting in neat rows on the rug are all participating, listening to their peers, and asking and answering questions. They see themselves as readers and writers. One side of the room has computers set up with programs that reinforce blending. At the other end of the classroom, on top of the two tiered book shelf are baskets that contain word families. These centers are set up so that students will be able to have more practice with the skills they are learning in class and to give students the opportunity to collaborate with their peers using technology and game-like activities. One will witness ample time allotted to reading and writing workshops, including opportunities for individualized and group instruction, independent work, and centers. The students at Ararat Charter School love independent work time as they get to choose their own activities and work in collaborative groups all the while learning and constructing their own knowledge.

A typical day at Ararat Charter School starts at 7:00 am as teachers begin to occupy the school grounds. They rush through the office bidding everyone a good morning, check their mail boxes, exchange a few words with colleagues, and scurry to their rooms to get ready for the day. At 7:30am, students are admitted onto the playground by yard supervisors who greet them and bid the parents a farewell. Students feel at home here. The yard supervisors ensure the safety of the students on the yard as they monitor, praise, and assist students to follow all playground rules and procedures. Suddenly, the bell rings. It’s 7:45 am and students begin lining up in their areas on the playground. The teachers meet their students and following the principal’s morning message the entire school recites the Pledge of Allegiance in unison. After that, the students are led into their classrooms to engage in morning warm-up activities.

Each classroom at Ararat Charter School is inviting with colorful bulletin boards displaying student work with attached criteria charts, rubrics, and kid friendly standards displayed. The daily schedule is written on the edge of the whiteboard which is situated between the calendar and the Word Wall. The desks are arranged in groups to allow for maximum interaction and “think, pair/share” activities and are at the perimeter of a large rectangular shaped rug that is imprinted with numbers, individual letters, and words. The classroom walls are adorned with written pieces, drawings, maps, charts, and pictures that reflect the current topic of study. They are all student generated work. No prefabricated, store bought materials exist here. The classrooms at Ararat Charter School are student centered and are constantly evolving to reflect the learning that is occurring within those walls.
During math instruction, manipulatives are used in order to make abstract concepts concrete both during directed instruction and collaborative time. The teacher reads a short story/word problem and has a discussion with the students about what is happening in the story and shows them how to put that in a mathematical sentence. At Ararat Charter School, the process of thinking about the final answer is just as important as the final product itself. Teaching students to think critically about the world around them is important. Students actively construct their own knowledge as they make sense of the experiences encountered in the learning environment. Students recognize math in their everyday life and make valuable connections.

A typical day in music class uses play and activities to reach all types of students through movement, sight, and sounds. The teacher also ties the activities in to other parts of the curriculum and builds valuable connections. The goal at Ararat Charter School is to create well-rounded students.

Following music the students start a science unit about the five senses. Next to the teacher’s desk are five white baskets that contain a kaleidoscope, maracas, a rose/flower, sandpaper, a furry piece of material, and a cube of sugar for each child. Also, one notices that a five column chart on the whiteboard has a picture of an eye, a nose, a mouth, a hand, and an ear at the top of each column. The teacher states the objectives of the lesson and proceeds. She puts the students in cooperative groups and tells them that they are going to learn about the five senses and points to the pictures on the board. She then gives each group of four students a basket. The teacher first shows the picture of the eye and asks students to look at the kaleidoscope. She explains that the first sense is sight. She then asks the students to describe what they see and charts their responses on the board. Every group has their turn to speak. The students are sharing, collaborating, and asking and answering questions. Everyone is engaged! The teacher awards table points to those groups that are following directions and staying on task. She moves through each sense in the same manner until all materials in the baskets have been explored by the students and the chart is complete with the students’ responses. The students are then directed to sit on the rug while the teacher reads them Brave Little Monster by Ken Baker.

Following math, the students receive education on one of the Pillars of Character. Today the teacher chooses Groark and Muggsy lose Burma’s Lizard. In this short video, Groark and Burna learn that being irresponsible can be unfair and hurtful to everyone, including themselves. The teacher then has questions ready and involves the class in a group discussion about taking responsibility for ones actions. The teacher fine tunes her questioning skills in order to encourage students to find answers for themselves rather than to seek the “right” answer from the teacher. The Ararat Charter School community recognizes and respects diversity, encourages students to share and cooperate and exhibit pride in creating through different venues. Such activities and lessons build the character of our students and help them become productive citizens in their communities.

A healthy and nutritious lunch, for all students, is an important part of the day at Ararat Charter School. The bell rings and each teacher escorts their students to the lunch area.
After reading the story, the teacher asks the students questions about the story and how it relates to the five senses. Again, the teacher involves the class in a group discussion to ensure comprehension of the story and reinforce their understanding of the five senses. After that, the students are sent to their desks to complete independent work where they match different pictures to the sense symbols (eye, nose, mouth, hand, and ear). Finally the students are engaged in a writing activity with sentence starters that follow this pattern: I see a_______. I hear a ________. I smell a _________. I feel a _________. I taste a __________.

A few minutes before the bell rings, the students begin helping one another to clean up. After cleanup they sit at their desks and wait for the teacher to call on their table. Those chosen go to empty their cubbies, get their backpacks, and stand in line. The bell rings and the students are dismissed. It’s 3:00 pm. It’s the end of the day for the students at Ararat Charter School.
As the students line up to go to recess, one can hear the excitement in the voices of those already in the yard. With assigned playground areas, that rotate every week, students know where to play. A line of students are playing hopscotch in the corner of the yard. In the center, the second graders are playing four square while the kindergartners are on the apparatus. Yard supervisors are supervising while walking their areas. Students who are following the school rules and are minding to the Pillars of Character receive tokens that can be exchanged for prizes. Their faces light up as their receive their tokens, knowing that a prize and teacher’s praise awaits them.
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