The Bridge Day
To help you understand how Bridge Academy scholars spend their day, we have provided a glimpse into a typical day at our school.
The narrative below is long, but so is the Bridge Academy school day, which spans from 7:50am - 4:00pm. Maximizing every second with our scholars, we are rigorously preparing them for college.
A Day in the Life of a Bridge Academy Kindergarten Scholar
7:30 am - Arrival and Breakfast
Terrance runs up the pathway leading to Bridge Academy, slowing down to a walk after his mother calls, “Walk, Terrance.” Terrance approaches the front entrance of the school and stands directly behind the couple of scholars that precede him. When it is his turn, he approaches the Principal with his head up high, a smile on his face, and an outstretched hand.
“Good morning, Terrance. Are you ready to learn today?” asks the Principal shaking his hand and smiling at young Terrance.
Terrance, looking the school leader right in the eyes as he has been taught, smiles back and states, “Yes, Ms. Wiley. I am ready to learn today.”
The Principal makes sure Terrance’s shirt is tucked in before he enters the school building, waves to his mom, and then proceeds to greet the scholars lined up behind him. Terrance enters the building and is ushered through the hallway by a Bridge Academy teacher who is monitoring scholars to ensure speedy and safe transitions to the cafeteria. As Terrance walks through the hallway, college pennants surround him. Terrance knows about several of the colleges represented in the hallway. His favorite colleges include LSU, Southern, Harvard, Tulane and Dillard. Those are the colleges that his class has learned about thus far, and he is excited by the songs he has learned for each of the schools and their mascots, too. Terrance is excited to add more colleges to that list when he gets to first grade.
Terrance enters the cafeteria, where he puts his brainwork folder in the crate at the end of the table designated to Southern University. Every classroom is named after a college, and Terrance is a Southern Jaguar. Sitting in his assigned seat, Terrance immediately begins eating his cereal, which has been laid out for him and his classmates ahead of time. It makes Terrance feel so good to know each morning, the arrival is the same, and his teachers, brainwork and cereal are always waiting for him. When he is finished, he pulls out his brainwork packet where he practices matching pictures to their corresponding initial letter sound. If you asked Terrance why scholars must work on brainwork during breakfast, he would respond with a complete sentence: “I complete my brainwork every morning to enrich my brain in preparation for the intense learning that will take place today.” Scholars are taught the ‘why’ behind the structures and systems in the school that prepare them for college, which strengthen their investment in school.
7:50 am - Morning Motivation
At exactly 7:50 am, music begins to play from the loudspeaker, which signals all scholars and teachers to clear off the cafeteria tables and join in the chant that begins morning motivation:
Scholars will sing the school chant focusing on the BRIDGE values. Scholars have been taught that by the last refrain of the chant, which plays twice, their tables should be cleared, and they should be sitting up straight and looking at the speaker. They practiced this every day during the first weeks of school, and Terrance and his classmates have gotten very good at the rhythm and the quick clean-up, and it’s fun! The Principal greets scholars, telling them how excited she is to see them with their “learning faces” on. Then selected classes lead the school in various school chants and songs. The last few minutes of morning motivation focus on giving “shout-outs” to scholars who demonstrated one or more of the BRIDGE core values. Today, Jacqueline from Southern University received a shout out for spelling all of the sight words correctly.
“Way to show Grit, Jacqueline,” all scholars shout joyfully while pointing to Jacqueline, who smiles brightly. Terrance is particularly proud of Jacqueline because he knows how difficult it is to get all the sight words correct. He has mastered 70% of the sight words up to this point and is going to work hard and hope to get a shout out, too.
8:00 am - Community Meeting
At exactly 7:59 am, the Principal begins dismissing certain classes to their classrooms. Every Tuesday, Terrance’s class has community meeting, so his class rises and heads in a silent, single file line to the community meeting area. All scholars sit in their designated area on the carpet with “bottoms flat, backs straight, and hands folded in their lap.” During community meeting, The Principal leads an academic lesson with students, asking questions across all subject areas, cold calling on particular scholars, and providing adequate checks for understanding for all scholars. Scholar’ brains are thinking at a rapid pace, as they determine whether or not Ms. Bell’s forty cents is enough money to purchase nine pencils costing five cents each, which continent is the most populated based on last week’s Social Studies lesson, how many syllables are in the word ‘education,’ or which one of the five listed items would not be represented in the category of nonliving things learned in Science class. All scholars are alert, engaged, and eager to hear their name called. Terrance is called on to spell one of the sight words he has been most challenged with – their. Before he responds, he asks, “Which one?” Terrance knows that “their” is a homophone.
The Principal smiles and says, “Terrance can’t be tricked."
She replies, “Their house is located in the neighborhood adjacent to ours.”
Terrance thinks for a second, while students wave their fingers as a sign of support, and then replies in a complete sentence, “Their is spelled T-H-E-I-R.
The Principal calls, “And he’s so smart” to which all scholars echo chorally, looking at Terrance.
Terrance, feeling proud and receiving a wink from his teacher, has little time to bask in his glory, as the Principal is on to the next question. Terrance prepares himself to be ready to respond to the next question. Teachers observe the community meeting, encouraging scholars and occasionally noting scholars that seem to be challenged with responding to questions to ensure proper follow-up.
8:15 am - Morning Math Meeting
Terrance enters the classroom quietly and follows the pathway directly to his assigned desk. Upon the signal of the teacher, all scholars say the Pledge of Allegiance. Afterwards, the class begins the daily math meeting. Math meeting is abbreviated today because of community meeting, so for the remaining five minutes, scholars focus on the calendar, determining today’s date and responding to a few calendar questions from the teacher. During full math meetings, scholars engage in various quick activities that reinforce previously learned math skills, including counting forwards and backwards, counting money, describing the weather and recording the result on a weather graph, naming shapes and colors, and working through word problems illustrated on the white board.
8:30am - Read Aloud
Scholars proceed directly to the carpet for a read aloud. Terrance loves to hear stories read aloud to him, and his teacher reads every story with animated expression, which engages scholars and models fluent, expressive reading. Terrance also enjoys learning college vocabulary words, and every week, scholars learn tier two words from the story. This week, they are reading the story called A Pocket for Corduroy, and his teacher, Ms. Gray, pauses from reading to say, “In the story, Lisa was reluctant to leave the laundromat without Corduroy. Reluctant means you are not sure you want to do something. Say the word with me: reluctant.”
All scholars chorally repeat, “Reluctant.”
Ms. Gray explains, “Someone might be reluctant to eat food that they never had before, or someone might be reluctant to ride a roller coaster because it looks scary. Think about something you might be reluctant to do. Start your sentence with “I might be reluctant to ______.”
Terrance thinks in his head. He is certain that he might be reluctant to fly in an airplane because he has never been that high in the air before. The teacher calls on a few scholars to respond before continuing with the story. When the read aloud ends, scholars rise and transition to their literacy area, dividing into three separate groups based on reading ability to ensure differentiated support with literacy skills and concepts.
8:55 am - Literacy Block I (Phonics)
Terrance begins his first literacy block at 8:55 am. Ms. Gray leads the class in a Reading Mastery lesson. The lesson begins with scholars calling out the sounds of different letters that they have learned upon Ms. Gray’s signal and reading and spelling words that rhyme with the –op sound and other high frequency words. The lesson is fast paced, with 20 minutes spent on correctly pronouncing learned sounds and reading words quickly, 15 minutes spent on fluently reading a story that reinforces the sounds and spellings from the lesson and requires students to respond to comprehension questions, and 10 minutes of independent practice spent on writing the words neatly and correctly identifying words with the spelling pattern.
9:40 am - Literacy Block II (Reading Comprehension)
Ms. Gray then pushes the play bottom on the CD player, and with the music as the cue, the children transition to one of three locations in the room. Scholars have been taught that when the transition music comes on, they must quickly and silently pack up their area and transition to their next learning area prepared to engage in learning. Transition time is 20 seconds, and scholars practice extensively at the beginning of the year to ensure perfection and no wasted learning time. Terrance moves to the right corner of the room with his second teacher, Mr. Gray. Mr. Gray is working with students to compare and contrast objects, which is a foundational lesson aligned to reading standard RI.K.9, which states that with prompting and support, students must be able to identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures). Providing the foundation for scholars on what it means to compare and contrast, by defining words, such as similarities and differences, and discussing the characteristics that separate various objects builds prerequisite skills that will enable scholars to apply this background knowledge to texts that they are reading. Today, Mr. Gray is leading students to compare and contrast living things that can fly with living things that can swim. For their exit ticket, scholars must properly categorize nonliving things that can be found in the sky with nonliving things that can be found in the sea. They must write a sentence describing the main difference between the objects that they have classified into different sections. Tomorrow’s lesson will lead students through a lesson comparing and contrasting two characters in their leveled reader, and students will be responsible for using the learned vocabulary words, specifically similarities and differences, in the discussion.
10:25 am - Snack and Bathroom
At the conclusion of the second reading rotation, students transition to their seats to prepare for snack and a bathroom break. The teacher directs the class to divide into two lines for the bathroom. Students are taken in groups, by gender, to the bathroom by Ms. Gray. Terrance is placed in the beginning of the line because directly upon returning from the bathroom, he will spend 10 minutes of this break, along with three other scholars, snacking and spending time with Mr. Gray. Mr. Gray makes this time fun through his teacher-created sight word game where scholars gain points for spelling sight words correctly. Terrance is excited for this additional practice, and he expects to win the sight word challenge. He has been working on these words diligently for the past couple of weeks, and he is determined to master his sight words test this Friday, maybe even receive a ‘shout-out’ during morning motivation, but most importantly, be one step farther on his path to college.
10:45 am - Literacy Block III (Computers)
Upon hearing the transition music, Terrance moves to the third reading block where he independently practices essential literacy skills on the computer through the program of Destination Reading. The program is tailored to meet scholars at their appropriate reading level, and Terrance feels challenged and engaged as he practices identifying sounds in isolation, a core skill in the development of strong phonemic awareness. Today, he is clicking on various bubbles on the screen, and dragging the bubble that made the ‘r’ sound to the center. He loves to hear the chime of the computer through his headphones, signally a correct response, as he builds strong literacy skills.
11:50 am - Math
Sharply at 11:50am, Terrance hears the transition music come on as Mr. Gray directs the class to begin the math cheer. Scholars move through their math activity for the morning, counting to one hundred and beginning addition activities. The teacher models addition problems, explicitly detailing the steps necessary to solve them, and then transitions students into guided practice, where, with a partner, Terrance works on five additional problems. As scholars move to complete the independent practice of the addition problems, Terrance notices 10 scholars moving to the side table to work with Ms. Dunn. Terrance knows that at Bridge Academy, students always get the extra help they need right away. He remains in his seat, and midway through, Mr. Gray places an additional sheet on his desk. Terrance is proud because the sheet placed on his table is the “challenge work” given to scholars that are mastering the day’s lesson with 90% or better proficiency. Terrance moves to the challenge work, proud of himself, and completing addition problems for two-digit numbers.
12:50 pm - Lunch
Students are dismissed for lunch. Terrance lines up silently with his class, and his teacher walks him to the bathroom. Afterwards, the class walks into the lunchroom where each student is greeted by the Principal and directed to his or her lunch seat. Just like with breakfast, lunch is already set out for each scholar. Scholars eat and when finished take out their brainwork to continue working and, as Ms. Wiley tells them, “building their brain power.”
1:20 pm - Writing
Scholars head directly from lunch to their classrooms to begin their writing lesson. Ms. Dunn provides a writing topic of the day, and the class helps brainstorm an illustration for it, which the teacher draws on a piece of chart paper. The children then help the teacher formulate a sentence to describe the picture. The scholars tell the teacher how to spell the words, and she writes them the way they tell her, including their mistakes. Afterward she edits the sentence explaining the correct spellings. She also makes sure that she is modeling the correct spacing and placement of all letters and words. While the class is engaged in this lesson, Mr. Gray has pulled out two scholars to work more intensively with them. The scholars then move to their desks and begin their own illustrations for the topic. Both teachers then circulate the room and engage the scholars in discussions about what they are drawing and writing. They make sure that letters are shaped correctly and use the lines on their paper to make the upper case and lower case letters look just right, and, using their index fingers, make sure that words are spaced just as the teacher has shown them.
2:05 pm - Social Studies
The class silently transitions into their Social Studies lesson. Scholars rotate between social studies and science units every month, and currently are involved in a Social Studies unit. Terrance and his class have learned geography and map concepts, as well as information about the city of Baton Rouge and the state of Louisiana. Terrance is able to locate where he lives on a variety of different maps and can identify and name rivers and oceans by picture. Today’s lesson is about identifying the differences between people, which connects well with the earlier lesson in English where scholars learned what it meant to compare and contrast things, using words such as similarities and differences. Mr. Russell and Mr. Gray understand that creating cross curricular connections reinforce key learning points for scholars, and scholars have yet another opportunity to apply their knowledge of comparing and contrasting things, as they discuss the differences between various cultures and the diversity within their classroom.
2:50 pm - Physical Education
After Social Studies, scholars head outside for physical education which occurs during their daily enrichment block. They walk to the gymnasium and with their fitness instructor, scholars participate in a variety of activities that get them moving. Today scholars are practicing basketball drills, including passing and dribbling the ball, which support their development of strong hand-eye coordination.
3:35 pm – Bridge to Success Time
After enrichment, scholars proceed back to their classroom for choice time. Terrance knows that this is the part of the day where he gets to practice literacy or math skills with a teacher, partner, or small group of classmates. He has been choosing to pair up with Raphael all week practicing high frequency words. Each boy has a set of letter magnets, and on their white boards, they have fun spelling different words.
3:50 pm - Closing Circle and Dismissal
At the end of the choice time block, Terrance’s classmates are brought back together for closing circle. Closing circle is a cooperative way to end the day. The teachers provide highlights of particular concepts learned from the day and how this learning connects with their lifework assignments. Scholars have the opportunity to provide each other with shout-outs. Additionally, scholars are chosen to discuss particular learning insights from the day, which they are excited to tell their family members when they get home. Both teachers thank the class for a wonderful, productive day. The class then lines up for dismissal.
Terrance takes the bus home. Boarding the bus, he is reminded by the Principal that they are in silent zone on the entire bus ride home and to take out his independent reading book. Terrance has had a long, productive day of learning and is glad to settle into his seat and begin rereading one of the books from his special book sack. Bridge Academy provides every kindergartener with a book sack of at least five leveled books, and teachers rotate these out on a biweekly basis for scholars to independently read on the bus, at home, and during any free time. Terrance remembers that his reading goal is to stop at periods and pause slightly at commas like his teacher instructed him. As Terrance heads home whisper reading, he is one step farther on his path to college.
Every day at school fits within the vision of college, and each second of the school day has been thoughtfully planned out for Terrance and every single Bridge Academy scholar. Tomorrow, with his completed lifework, Terrance will begin another day at Bridge Academy.